Steuben Glass announces layoffs

Just over two years after Corning Inc. sold an 80% stake in Steuben Glass to Schottenstein Stores Corp. of Ohio, the prestigious art glass subsidiary announced 24 February 2010 that it is restructurin…

Just over two years after Corning Inc. sold an 80% stake in Steuben Glass to Schottenstein Stores Corp. of Ohio, the prestigious art glass subsidiary announced 24 February 2010 that it is restructuring and will begin laying off an undetermined number of employees during the summer. Steuben Glass“s chief operating officer, Mark Samitt, said the plans were announced internally on 24 February. “We will be going through a restructuring program that will allow Steuben Glass to appeal to a wider customer base, provide quality products at a value and reposition the company to be profitable”, Mr. Samitt said. Included in the program to be rolled out by mid-summer is the outsourcing of some existing products that will mean the loss of some current manufacturing jobs at Steuben Glass. Mr. Samitt said Steuben Glass employs about 100 workers. The number to be affected by layoffs will not be known until later in the year. Steuben Glass is working with Corning Inc. to provide opportunities for those who will lose their jobs. Like the hourly workers employed at Corning Inc.“s manufacturing operations, Steuben“s hourly workers are represented by the United Steelworkers of America Local 1000. “We are planning to continue the plant operation and production in Corning after the restructuring, and Corning Inc. is supportive of the effort”, Mr. Samitt said. Steuben Glass was sold in July 2008 because it lost USD 30 million over a five-year period and did not fit with Corning“s high-tech industrial products portfolio. Those money problems, Mr. Samitt said, are apparently still at work. “We looked at the market contraction, and the recent sustained downturn has had a significant negative impact. That is why we are taking these steps to position us for growth”, Mr. Samitt said. Steuben Glass“s crystal pieces are manufactured at Corning“s Museum of Glass. Steuben also operates a retail store in Corning, as well as customer service, shipping and other functions. Although the manufacturing operation will be most affected by the job cuts, Mr. Samitt said the company“s strategy will “provide the best potential to compete and grow in the crystal glass category, while providing value to the customers”. Steuben Glass was founded in 1903 by T.G. Hawkes and managed by legendary British glassmaker Frederick Carder. It was acquired by Corning Inc., then known as Corning Glass Works, during World War I. Corning put the luxury crystal division up for sale in March 2008 but retained a 20% stake in the spin-off company at Schottenstein“s request because the Ohio company lacked the manufacturing experience. Steuben Glass then became part of Schottenstein Luxury Group, which includes Judith Leiber purses and the Italian fashion brand Shiro.