Rossford and Edward Ford
In 1898, Edward Ford purchased 173 acres of farmland on the Maumee River to build his plate glass factory after leaving the Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) Company over a disagreement regarding the future direction of the company. In August of that year, the Edward Ford Plate Glass Company broke ground and a new business and a new community were born.
Trainloads of workers came from the glass plants in Pennsylvania to join the Ford family in their new venture and as a result, the city of Rossford grew up as a company town. The name Rossford was derived by combining the surname of Edward Ford's second wife, Ross, with his own. By the way, Rossford is not the first city named after a Ford in the plate glass business. Ford's father, John B. Ford, co-founder of PPG, built a plate glass factory 40 miles outside of Pittsburgh in 1887 as the site for the PPG Works No. 3 glass factory and Ford City, Pennsylvania was the result.
As we pass through town, take note of the factory homes along Superior Street - although many have added facades and morphed into businesses over the years, the style is the same since they were stamped out as worker homes for Ford's Plate Glass Company.
Ford was very proud of Rossford. He built the Ford Club near the plant as a place for employees to get together with fellow workers and their families. He also built a church and school. Edward Ford's generosity to the community went beyond building places for people to live, work and worship. It's been said that locals would often see him walking into the village grocery, drug stores and meat market. It was not until after his death in 1920 that it was learned he was quietly paying the overdue bills of some of his employees who were down on their luck.
If you remember our stop at the Libbey Glass Factory this morning, you'll recall that Michael Owens and Edward Drummond Libbey partnered to form Libbey-Owens Glass Company. In 1928, Libbey-Owens was the first company to produce automotive laminated safety glass and won a contract to supply the Ford Motor Company with windshields for the Model A. In 1930, Libbey-Owens merged with the Edward Ford Plate Glass Company to form Libbey-Owens-Ford or LOF.
In April 1986, LOF sold its glass business and name to the Pilkington Group, a multinational glass manufacturer headquartered in the United Kingdom. The remaining three business units of the company, Aeroquip, Vickers, and Sterling, were retained and the holding company was renamed TRINOVA Corporation. The Sterling business was later sold and in the late 1990s, the company adopted its two leading business unit names, and continued as Aeroquip-Vickers, Inc., until being absorbed by Eaton Corporation in 1999.
As part of the Pilkington Group, the company retained the LOF name. However, in June 2006, Pilkington was acquired by Nippon Sheet Glass, and the LOF name was abandoned in an effort to re-brand globally under the Pilkington name.