DURYEA, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – It’s the start of a new chapter for one Luzerne County business, two years after a devastating fire.
That fire caused millions of dollars in damage and destroyed parts of the Schott Glass facility, but now it’s rebuilt for the future.
Workers spent part of Saturday showing visitors how they melt glass and mold it during a tour of the facility.
Production at the Duryea company is expected to experience an upswing according to Plant Manager Mike Platt, thank in part to new state of the art experience.
That’s positive news for a company that spent the last two years bouncing back after a devastating fire in March, 2015. The blaze started in the warehouse, and even though they never ceased operations the fire dealt the company a significant blow.
“We were closed in some areas for 30 days and other areas we never really put back together,” says Platt.
The fire caused more than $50 million worth of damage and there were fears the 40 year old plant would shut down permanently.
Mayor Keith Moss is also a firefighter and was at the scene that day.
“”The fans in the plant just attracted the fire to the front of the building and engulfed everything,” he tells Eyewitness news.
Nearly 200,000 square feet of the facility – gone.
It took two years for the plant to rebuild, and to celebrate this new era for the company plant leaders invited the community and lawmakers to take a tour.
The company plans on building a new melting department and just finished building their new, upgraded “Large Optics” area.
“The new equipment that we are getting in her, and even some of the equipment that we are getting refurbished,” says Platt “allows us to make the smaller glasses, higher precision glasses.”
Local lawmakers are glad to see the business on a positive path.
“In this day and age it’s tough,” says Duryea Councilman John Rowlands “you don’t want to raise taxes and it’s always good to have businesses like this.”
Leaders say at its prime, years before the fire, the factory employed about 500 people. Now the staff is at about 140.
“My hope for the future is that they grow bigger, bring in more people and get to where they were,” says Moss.
Mike Platt says he expects to see ten percent growth next year and says they currently have 14 open positions they’re looking to fill right now.