When it comes to talking about the history of most companies in this industry, many of us talk in years. Some talk in decades. A few talk in half centuries. Saint-Gobain talks about their company history in centuries! This week the glass giant turns the ripe old age of 350. Any way you look at that, it’s massively impressive.

Their global and UK websites have been sharing with us some facts and figures to put this major milestone perspective, so I thought it would be right and proper to list a few of the more impressive stats of theirs, and put this historical achievement into some context.

The company

Here are some impressive stats that Saint-Gobain proudly show off on their website:

  • 180,000+ employees worldwide
  • 12 research centres
  • company has roots and representation in 66 countries

In the flat glass sector – our most relevant sector, they are 1st in Europe and 2nd worldwide. They have a flat glass presence in 44 different countries, employing 32,000 people. And this is just in flat glass. The other 148,000 people are employed in sectors such as high performance materials, construction products, building distribution and packaging. Not bad from a company which started making mirrors.

The monetary figures aren’t bad either. According to Wikipedia (assuming the information on this page is accurate!) they had revenues just tipping 42bn Euro in 2013, with operating income at 2.75bn Euro, netting a profit of near 0.6bn Euro. Their assets are worth nearly 46bn Euro.

This is a company on a truly massive scale, with interest and influence with every construction sector and sub-sector across the globe. The same company that probably made the glass for your windows at home or in your office.

The history

Saint-Gobain has put together a slick presentation which guides you through their inception right up to present day and all notable things in between.

The company was founded in 1665 under the reign of Louis XIV. Since then, new technologies and world changing events took the company on a course which has led them to become the company they are today. Wars, the invention of the car, chemicals, new technologies, Directors and mergers all helped to shape Saint-Gobain to become the world leader in so many markets.

There was an interesting interview Saint-Gobain CEOs a few months ago, where they gave an interesting insight into where they thought the economy was regionally and globally, and gave us some interesting facts about work they have been involved in, that perhaps you may not have realised:

The achievement

At 350 years old, Saint-Gobain isn’t just one of the oldest companies in the glazing sector. It makes them one of the oldest manufacturers of any material, in any sector, in the world. This fact cannot be understated.

During their three and a half centuries, they have seen and experienced numerous life-altering, historic events. They have seen and operated through two world wars, plus and endless list of regional ones. They have been part of the automotive revolution. They have seen human tragedy. They helped the float glass revolution. They have bought companies for billions, merged with others.

This is a truly fascinating company, and one which appears not to be slowing down one bit. A clear example being the stunning Sage Glass product which is making it’s way from the US to Europe.

Will this company be here in another 350 years? I won’t be here to find out that is certain! Yet, given the size of the business, and their ability to withstand events like the Second World War, you cannot see them disappearing. They’re far too big, far to innovative and forward thinking for that to happen. It might be a bold statement to make, but as long as the world keeps building, keeps driving, keep delivering, then Saint-Gobain will continue too.

A big happy birthday from me, and here’s to the next three and a half centuries!

Find out more about Saint-Gobain’s 350th birthday!

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