Volume 41, Issue 5 - May 2006

Dick Altman

Pilkington North America

Dick Altman, an industry veteran employee of Pilkington North America (previously Libbey-Owens-Ford) for 27 years, prepares for his new position as president of the company’s Building Products segment. Altman tells USGlass what experiences have brought him to where he is today, and what he plans to achieve in his new position.

Q. How many years have you been involved in the glass industry?

A. When I was born, my grandfather was working at the Libbey-Owens-Ford (LOF) East Toledo, Ohio, plant and my father was working at the LOF Rossford, Ohio, plant, so I was certainly exposed to the glass industry at an early age. I joined LOF, now Pilkington, in 1979, two weeks after graduating from Wooster College in Ohio. I started in a corporate finance position and was only involved in glass on the periphery. In addition to glass, LOF was involved in the fluid power and plastic business at the time.

Q. How did you get involved in the industry?

A. My first real involvement in the glass business came in 1985 as manager of strategic planning for LOF’s glass division. This position gave me a good opportunity to learn about the various businesses in the glass group, which were Automotive OE, Automotive Aftermarket and Building Products, the same businesses Pilkington operates today.

Q. Tell me about some of the projects and activities within the industry with which you’ve been involved.

A. During the last seven years, I was plant manager/vice president of operations at our Rossford, Ohio, float facility. The Rossford facility primarily produces float glass for consumption in our automotive OE business but also produces small amounts of commercial glass products. 

Prior to Rossford, I spent several years in the building products business and during that time we converted the Ottawa, Ill., float line from an automotive windshield line to one for residential products.

Q. How do you feel about your new position at Pilkington? 

A. Firstly, I am very excited about [it] and getting involved in building products again. Being part of the automotive business for the last several years, we had to work diligently to drive out cost and, at the same time, deliver a quality product. These are fundamentals that are imperative to survival in the automotive industry. This has been a good learning experience and will provide a good base for my new position. However, I have spent most of my time with Pilkington in the building products area so I am excited about getting back into this end of the business. I find the building products business has different dynamics and the market is more interesting, although no less challenging. 

Laurie Kruger has built a good team of people here in North America and I am looking forward to supporting them in our building products business. At the end of the day, whether automotive, building products or any other industry, good people working diligently as a team make the difference and I believe I am being blessed with a good group of people to work with.
Q. What are some of the projects you will concentrate on?

A. First, from a market perspective, we will continue to focus on delivering value-added products to support our domestic and international customers. We will continue to focus on being the industry leader in quality, technology and customer service, including the support of our independent customer base. 

In manufacturing, we will continue to be relentless in driving cost out of our operations. With energy, raw material and transportation costs rising so rapidly, we need to look for every opportunity to eliminate unnecessary cost, being as creative as we possibly can. The business has made a lot of progress in the last few years but we must continue. We will repair and upgrade some of our float lines in the next few years and will ensure that we implement the latest technology with flexible manufacturing operations to ensure that we can continue to meet the quality and service requirements of our customers in a cost-effective way.

Q. What do you look forward to accomplishing in your new position?

A. I will be pleased if, at the end of my tenure, we are perceived by the customers as a valued supplier, instrumental in making their business successful with their own customer base by delivering quality products and services. I would also like to see Pilkington Building Products as a preferred employer in the eyes of all Pilkington employees working in North America. And lastly, a business that is delivering a return that delights our shareholders.

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