In 1885, seven Worcester entrepreneurs established Norton Emery Wheel Company to manufacture the world’s first grinding wheel. Originally made in a pottery shop, this grinding wheel was the first ceramic-bonded wheel to be precision-made and mass produced. It would eventually revolutionize the metalworking industry by replacing the metal cutting process with precision grinding.
During the next century, the company changed its name to Norton Company and grew to become the world’s leading supplier of abrasives and high-performance materials. Saint-Gobain, itself a world leader, acquired the company in 1990 but retained the Norton brand name for many of its products sold throughout the world. Saint-Gobain’s headquarters offices for its worldwide abrasives business are still located in Worcester, exactly where Norton was founded 125 years ago.
With more than 1,000 subsidiaries in 66 countries, Saint-Gobain is the world's largest manufacturer and distributor of building materials, and a leader in the production of high-performance materials and glass containers. Founded in 1665 and headquartered in Paris, Saint-Gobain had worldwide sales of €41 billion in 2014 and employs approximately 1,70,000 people.