A History of Excellence


In the mid 19th Century, a group of ceramists and entrepreneurs in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA, set out with a goal: meet the growing need of the burgeoning U.S. manufacturing industry, which needed an every increasing supply of grinding wheels to build and maintain machinery...


The Early Years

In 1885, seven Worcester entrepreneurs in the USA bought the patent for a grinding wheel from Frank Norton, owner of the Water Street Pottery Shop, where the formula for the grinding wheel had been invented. They also bought his company name. And, Norton Company was born.

The founders purchased land in the city’s Greendale section, which was then farmland, and built their first grinding wheel plant. Norton has occupied that land ever since where two of the founders, John Jeppson and Milton Higgins, their sons, and grandsons, then managed the company until the 1970s.


Global Expansion

What began as a tiny start-up, Norton began to grow rapidly. By 1920, it was one of the 400 largest industrial companies in the United States. As it grew, it diversified into industrial products other than abrasives, and became a major multinational corporation. Norton became a publicly held company in 1962.

When it celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1985, it built its research centre in Northboro, MA and employed 18,700 people across 130 plants in 27 countries.


Acquired by Saint-Gobain

In 1990, Norton was acquired by Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest industrial companies. Saint-Gobain began an ambitious program of acquisitions and joint ventures worldwide.

In 2001, Norton Company changed its legal entity name to Saint-Gobain Abrasives.

In 2002, a state-of-the art manufacturing site was built in Staverton, Gloucestershire, which mainly manufactures abrasives under the Norton Winter brand for many markets including aerospace, automotive, medical and the electronics sector. In 2012, production started at the Raleigh Hall site in Eccleshall. A £1million investment ensured the site specialised in manufacturing excellence for high performance grinding for the UK aerospace market.

After these major investments, the final stage was to improve core operations at the UK head office at Doxey Road in Stafford. To cater for the needs of its growing business, there was a multi-million-pound investment in a brand-new building on the Redhill Industrial site, just off J14 of the M6.

For over 130 years, Norton has continued to offer the widest range of innovative and affordable abrasive products that meet the needs of different markets, using a variety of materials and applications. It has become a multi-million-pound company that cares about delivering the right choices that matter to you.  

The video below takes you through the history of Saint-Gobain Abrasives in the UK…

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