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Published: Friday, 8/2/2013

Libbey shows off new corporate digs

Glass company's redesign aims to keep its vision clear

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
CEO Stephanie Streeter shows off Libbey’s redesigned headquarters in the Toledo Edison Building during a tour on Wednesday. A wall of windows provides natural light, contributing to the open feel. CEO Stephanie Streeter shows off Libbey’s redesigned headquarters in the Toledo Edison Building during a tour on Wednesday. A wall of windows provides natural light, contributing to the open feel.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

There’s lots of glass in the downtown headquarters of Libbey Inc.

It makes sense. The company is, after all, one of the largest table glass manufacturers in the world.

But in the company’s recently renovated corporate offices, all that glass helps foster a modern, open-air design that company officials hope will be one more way to move it into the future.

PHOTO GALLERY: Libbey Glass open house

Most of Libbey’s 180 downtown employees have moved into their new office space. The last workers moved this week, and the company held an open house Wednesday.

Internally, Libbey called the renovation Project Clearview. It’s easy to see why.

Gone are most of the offices, the drab furniture, and the dim lighting. In their place are open cubicles, modern white desks, and plenty of natural light. Executive offices, including that of Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Streeter, are all the same size, with clear glass walls.

Ms. Streeter said Wednesday the company hopes the new space will promote interaction, leading to better communication and faster decision-making.

“We wanted to have a clear view of our colleagues across the office,” she said. “We wanted a space that was inspirational and energized us, we wanted to encourage communication and collaboration, and when we had guests we wanted them to know about our business and our heritage.”

Libbey, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary in Toledo this year, signed a 15-year lease last August to keep its corporate headquarters at the 17-story Toledo Edison Plaza at 300 Madison Ave. Work began shortly thereafter.

Previously Libbey occupied the building’s third, fourth, fifth, and sixth floors. Now, it fills about 51,000 square feet on the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors.

“The most impressive part of this, I think, is our cullet wall and our reception desk,” Ms. Streeter said while playing the role of tour guide.

The backlit wall is made up of six panels of cullet, or recycled glass, from the company’s nearby Toledo plant. It’s the sparkling backdrop for a reception desk that features layers of cullet, sand, soda ash, and limestone in the same proportions Libbey uses to make its glassware.

The offices also have cues to the company’s past, including walls painted to reproduce a page of founder Edward Drummond Libbey’s batch book, which he was said to carry with him everywhere he went.

“Toledo was changed forever when the company relocated here from Massachusetts and began Toledo’s legacy as the Glass City,” Ms. Streeter said.

Wednesday’s event also was attended by city and economic development officials who extolled the glassmaker’s importance to the economy of Toledo and northwest Ohio.

“Libbey glass is almost like a mascot for Toledo,” Mayor Mike Bell said. “It is what we are about. When we go places, we talk, and we brag about things. We brag about Libbey. So the idea we really need to step up our game to make sure you did not want to leave and that we were doing the things we needed to keep you here was very important to us.”

The new break room at Libbey headquarters features an airy chan-delier and minimalist shelves displaying the company’s products. The new break room at Libbey headquarters features an airy chan-delier and minimalist shelves displaying the company’s products.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The city extended an existing tax abatement as part of the deal. Libbey also received a $1-million economic development grant from the state of Ohio through JobsOhio, as well a $250,000 economic development grant from FirstEnergy Corp.

The firm said it intended to use the JobsOhio grant to pay for the renovations. The total cost of the work wasn’t available Wednesday.

When the deal was announced, Libbey said it been looking seriously at potential sites that would have moved the headquarters outside of northwest Ohio. Sources told The Blade the company had an offer from Michigan.

Ms. Streeter said Wednesday the state aid made a difference in the its decision to stay put, as did the partnership demonstrated by JobsOhio, Mayor Bell, and FirstEnergy.

“It was very important to us, but equally as important was how our employees would feel,” she said. “We needed to retain all of the expertise and energy that we get from our employees and to move anywhere appreciably different — that would have been hard.”

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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