The former Barber Glass plant has been saved and will be re-opened in Collingwood.
“The former manufacturing glass plant has been saved, resurrected,” said an enthusiastic Councillor Joe Gardhouse. “It’s fabulous news for the town.”
Representatives from the Centre for Business and Economic Development made the announcement at Collingwood council meeting on Monday evening.
Collingwood resident and developer Richard Wilson purchased the facility on May 4. He expects to re-open the Mountain Road plant in the next two to six months and plans to employ 50 people initially, and up 150 in the next three years.
“This is a world-class plant that can make the largest architectural glass in North America,” Wilson said.
A group that included Gardhouse, local realtor Martin Oosterveld, Collingwood resident Mel Walker and Tillie McDonald, manager of the Centre for Business and Economic Development, attempted to find a buyer for the plant when it was placed in receivership in November, however were unable to reach a deal.
“It was unsuccessful,” said Walker.
The company was then sold to a liquidator, who was going to auction off the assets. The auction was scheduled for the first week of May.
Wilson said he was approached by the group about investing in the project.
“I never intended to be the owner of this company,” he said. Walker said they had a deal 10 days before the facility was to be auctioned off but it fell through.
He said Wilson, Gord Tozer and another investor were slated to buy the plant, but the third investor dropped out. “Richard and Gord stepped up,” he said Wilson told council the group was very persistent and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He credits Walker for helping make this deal happen.
“The only reason I am here is because these four people didn’t say no,” an emotional Wilson said. “It really came down to 11 p.m., the night before the plant was going to be sold.”
Wilson celebrated his birthday on Monday, saying “my wife bought me a glass plant for my birthday.”
Wilson is no stranger to the plant as he was one of the largest customers of the former Barber Glass.
“I’ve been involved in this company from the beginning of the plant,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the former owner of the facility, John Barber, had a vision of opening the best glass-making facility in the world. The facility is one of the only of its kind in North America, able to produce pieces of glass up to 10 feet by 20 feet.
“He did it,” Wilson said. “It’s world class. It’s state of the art. It’s one of the best architectural glass plants in the world.”
Wilson said unfortunately the recession hit and it took its toll on Barber’s business.
Wilson said the plant will be re-named and is hoping to expand the clientele.
Walker believes there is a market out there.
“I know a significant number of architects who were not aware this plant existed,” he said.
Wilson said there will be a plant manager but he plans to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the facility.
Walker said it’s been a long road but is pleased they were able to save the facility and save jobs in Collingwood.
The facility is located at 200 Mountain Road in what used to be the former Alcoa Wheel plant. Barber Glass opened the plant in 2008 as part of a $20 million investment in the facility and employed about 50 people.
Wilson was not at liberty to reveal the financial details of the agreement.
AGNORA (former Barber Glass), Manufacturer of Large Glass
AGNORA is a customer service company that fabricates the largest architectural glass in North America. Glass units up to 25 feet by 11 feet are used in high-end retail store fronts, multi-million dollar homes and specialty buildings such as museums and art galleries. AGNORA prides itself on outstanding quality, constant innovation, and an exceptional corporate culture to consistently exceed customer expectations.