Edward Ford, Rossford and LOF
In 1898, Edward Ford purchased 173 acres of farmland along the Maumee River, just south of Toledo in Wood County, to build a plate glass factory. Ford arrived in this area after leaving Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) over a disagreement regarding the future direction of the company. In August of that year, the Edward Ford Plate Glass Company broke ground and a new business, as well as a new community, emerged in Northwest Ohio. Ford's new factory made its first cast of plate glass on October 28, 1899.
As workers arrived to work in his new plant—many of them from the glass plants in Pennsylvania—Ford built a company town to house them. The result was, and still is, Rossford, Ohio. The name for the town was derived by combining the surname of Ford's second wife, Ross, with his own. By the way, Rossford is not the first city named after a Ford in the plate glass business. Ford's father, John B. Ford, co-founder of PPG, chose a site 40 miles outside of Pittsburgh in 1887 for the PPG Works No. 3 glass factory. Ford City, Pennsylvania was the result.
Although the Hollywood Casino defines the north entrance to Rossford today, if you look closely, there are still visible remnants of Ed Ford’s turn-of-the-century company town. As you drive along Superior Street, take note of the homes—although many have added facades and morphed into retail businesses over the years, the style is the same, particularly the gables. These factory homes were stamped out as worker residences for the Ford Plate Glass Company in the early twentieth century.
Ford was very proud of Rossford and he watched over his town with a paternal eye. He built the Ford Club near the plant as a place for employees to get together with fellow workers and their families. He also built a church and school. However, Ford's generosity to the community went beyond building places for people to live, work and worship. Early Rossford residents would sometimes see him walking into the village grocery, drug stores and meat market quietly paying the overdue bills of some of his employees who were down on their luck.
Edward Ford passed away at the age of 77 in his Collingwood Avenue home on June 24, 1920 but his business legacy lived on throughout the majority of the nineteen-hundreds as LOF. To understand how Ford Plate Glass Company came to be known as LOF you have to go back to 1916 when Michael Owens and Edward Drummond Libbey partnered to form Libbey-Owens Sheet Glass Company in Toledo. In 1926, Libbey-Owens developed laminated safety glass. By 1928, eight year's after Ed Ford's death and three years after Libbey's passing, Libbey-Owens won a contract to supply the Ford Motor Company with windshields for their Model A. In 1930, Libbey-Owens merged with the Edward Ford Plate Glass Company to form Libbey-Owens-Ford (LOF) to focus on the growing demand for automotive glass. The merger paid big dividends when one year later, in the height of the Great Depression, LOF purchased the National Plate Glass Company in Ottawa, Illinois from General Motors and won an exclusive contract to supply GM with all of its glass needs.
In April 1986, LOF sold its glass business and name to the Pilkington Group, a multi-national glass manufacturer headquartered in the UK. As part of the Pilkington Group, the company retained the LOF name. However, in June 2006, Pilkington was acquired by Nippon Sheet Glass, and the LOF name was abandoned in an effort to re-brand globally under the Pilkington name.