BUSINESS

World Kitchen marks 50 years in Greencastle

JOYCE F. NOWELL
In conjunction with Old Home Week, World Kitchen is celebrating a milestone. The company located in Greencastle as Corning 50 years ago.

The headline in the Feb. 25, 1960 Echo Pilot was about as big as you can get. It announced that Corning Glass Works was to build a huge assembly plant here. Fifty years later World Kitchen in still going strong in the community that nurtured its arrival and longevity.

World Kitchen will celebrate 50 years of business in Greencastle with an open house from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 31 at the facility at 1200 S. Antrim Way. A brief opening ceremony is scheduled at 9 a.m. The milestone is being celebrated along with Greencastle-Antrim’s Old Home Week.

The history

The announcement that Corning would locate in Greencastle followed months of negotiations and cooperation and was hailed as not only a coop for the Greencastle-Antrim community, that was selected over much larger towns, was as a catalyst to spur further economic development.

The facility opened in 1960 with 300 employees as a 600,000 square-foot central assembly, distribution and customer service center for the Corning Glass Works Consumer Products Division. Through the years, the facility grew to 1,050,000 square feet and at its peak employed over 600 employees. World Kitchen currently employs about 400 employees.

“In selecting Greencastle as the site of a new assembly center for our consumer products, we were influenced by the town's favorable labor supply and labor climate and its excellent location to transportation routes, both north and south and east and west,” said James Aikins, Vice President Global Human Resources.

“The cooperative attitude of its people towards new industry certainly was a factor of considerable importance.”  

Ground was broken Feb. 24, 1960 on the 143-acre site and the first glassware was shipped there June 20 of that year. By July glassware had been assembled and shipped. The plant was fully operational in September 1960.

It worked

According to press accounts of the time, Corning was welcomed into Greencastle with open arms. In a time of industrial growth, Aikens points out that the location of the industry here provided more than 300 full time jobs, which doubled over 15 years, along with community project support and funding. The company also used local vendors for supplies, materials and services.

Obviously the location in Greencastle was a good fit for the company, which has thrived for a half century in this location.

Aikins related, “We feel very positive about our success in Greencastle. This location has played a vital role in the assembly and distribution of our products to customers across the country. It provides us with access to locations from coast to coast. Most recently, to capitalize on the efficiency of our Greencastle facility, we consolidated all our Canadian distribution operations from Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The plant was expanded twice in December 1975 and in January 1981. An office expansion was completed in May of 1985.

“Greencastle is a very good location from a distribution perspective due to easy access to many major highways and transport routes,” said Aikins.

“In addition, the area has always been successful in providing the appropriate resources to deliver quality goods and services to our customers.”

The future

A key to the longevity of the company here is linked to its workers.

“We wouldn't be here today if the Greencastle area hadn't provided us with an excellent labor force,” related Aikins. “They always have demonstrated a positive work ethic and commitment to making the facility a success.”

When asked what was in store for the future of World Kitchen, both as a corporation and at the facility in Greencastle, Aikins said, “World Kitchen's plan is to continue to grow the company through the development and sale of current and innovative new products into the future. We are owned by equity investors who will provide guidance to our growth in the future.”

Corning located in Greencastle in 1960.