Lighting the way for new U.S. manufacturing jobs

Building 51 in SCHOTT’s Lighting and Imaging plant in Southbridge, Massachusetts has had the same name for decades.

That doesn’t mean the building has stayed the same. In fact, we’re celebrating a recent $750,000 renovation and additional $2 million investment in it because we think the future there is very bright.

Beginning in 1958, Building 51 was part of the American Optical campus, a major player in the U.S. optical industry headquartered in Southbridge. SCHOTT moved into the building, and became a member of the Southbridge community in 1986, when it acquired American Optical’s Fiber Optics division. Today the site makes night-vision components for the defense industry and flexible fiber optics for diagnostic medical equipment, such as endoscopes.

SCHOTT Southbridge ribbon cutting ceremony

Individuals pictured from left to right: Vicki Shrewsbury (HR Manager, SCHOTT); Robert Brisard (Director of Operations, SCHOTT); Denise Clemence (Town Council Chairwoman, Town of Southbridge); Senator Ryan C. Fattman (MA House of Representatives); James Gareau (VP, General Manager, SCHOTT); Congressman Richard E. Neal (U.S. House of Representatives); Representative Peter J. Durant (MA House of Representatives) Ron San Angelo (Town Manager, Town of Southbridge); Greg Wolters (President, SCHOTT North America); Brigitte Sterf (Marketing Manager, SCHOTT)

SCHOTT recently kicked off the next chapter in this storied building’s history. Together, executives and elected officials including SCHOTT North America President Greg Wolters; Jim Gareau, SCHOTT North America Vice President and General Manager for Lighting and Imaging; and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal unveiled a $750,000 renovation to offices in the building, and highlighted plans to hire nearly two dozen new employees at Building 51 and the SCHOTT Electronic Packaging plant that also operates in Southbridge.

Inside the SCHOTT Southbridge Lighting and Imaging facilities

SCHOTT Southbridge ribbon cutting ceremony

These new hires will support the growing trend of high tech, smart manufacturing, which requires highly skilled workers familiar with both the machinery and materials used to process the high-quality, specialty glass products SCHOTT is known for.

SCHOTT Southbridge ribbon cutting ceremony

The event was also meant to send young people the message that manufacturing jobs are in demand – the Lighting and Imaging plant added 30 jobs last year – and there are exciting opportunities for students to become a part of the next wave of technological advances.

To help local students get the training they need to join the field, we’ve partnered with Springfield Technical Community College, Quinsigamond Community College, and Bay Path Regional Vocational High School. The additional $2 million investment will also be used to purchase new equipment that provides the opportunity to streamline employee training as it more closely aligns to the machines used in technical colleges and trade schools.

SCHOTT Southbridge ribbon cutting ceremony

With new investments in production, fresh faces joining the team, and growing demand for the plant’s products, Building 51 and SCHOTT in Southbridge have a long future ahead of them.

Jim Gareau, VP and GM of SCHOTT North America

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Hi, I’m Rina Della Vecchia, Marketing Communications Manager for SCHOTT North America. I manage the internal and external marketing and communications efforts for the SCHOTT corporate office, as well as our eight business units. I’ve been a part of the SCHOTT team for more than six years, but before joining the company, I worked in the trade show management industry and prior to that I conducted philanthropy work for the Westchester Philharmonic. I earned my bachelor’s degree from Pace University. On a more personal note, I’m a summer-loving girl and can spends hours on the beach. My husband and I also enjoy spending time outdoors, traveling, and trying new restaurants.

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