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.