In A Slumping Industry, NJ Glassmaker Consolidates, Expands

Posted on Nov 3 2009 - 11:18am by Tony Gonzalez

Glassmaking is an ancient art. In fact, it is said that the first glassmaking “how to” tome was found in the library of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (669-626 BC). Many believe that the early civilizations of Western Asia and Egypt guarded the “formula” for fusing glass from raw materials as a highly-valued secret, and that glass itself was considered a luxury item throughout the 15th century, when the Venetians mastered the art. Today, it is a global industry, with China dominating the market. China’s glass production has increased by more than $575 million since 2003; an increase of more than 67%.

However, from 2001-2008, the glass industry in the United States has seen a significant decline, with nearly 40,000 jobs lost during that 7-year period (a 30% decrease, according to figures from the U.S. Labor Department.) States with some of the nation’s highest unemployment – including California, Illinois, Michigan and West Virginia have lost at least 1 out of 4 glass industry jobs since 2001.

Today, Vineland, New Jersey-based Wilmad-LabGlass is a major player in the global market of scientific glass used in both in high-tech pharmaceutical research and aeronautics systems, and they are about to become even more competitive.

According to General Manager Ron DiMaria, the consolidation and eventual expansion of its Vineland facility at North West Boulevard (approved by Vineland’s Planning Board in October, 2009) will ease efficiency and increase productivity for Wilmad-LabGlass.

Currently, the company’s New Jersey operations are split between two locations: the Vineland facility employees concentrate primarily on laboratory glass manufacturing, while the second location in Buena (NJ) specializes in NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy tubes, which are tiny glass cylinders used in protein and nucleic acid structure and function experiments.

“This is a very high-skill set operation…the people are doing cross-training in both operations. We get it in one building and it becomes much more efficient,” said Mr. DiMaria in a November 2 posting on the, southern New Jersey’s online news source. (

Warminster, PA-based SP Industries, Inc., is the parent company of Wilmad-LabGlass, and manufactures specialty glassware not only for the pharmaceutical and aerospace industries, but for education and industrial end-uses as well. Other brands under the SP umbrella include: Hotpack, FTS Systems, Genevac, VirTis, and Hull.