Alcoa, first incorporated as the Pittsburgh Reduction Company in 1888, started small, providing aluminum for the manufacture of utensils.
By 1891, it had secured the backing of the Mellon family, outgrown its original facility on Smallman Street in the Strip District and moved its operations north to New Kensington. In 1907, it changed its name to the Aluminum Company of America, but adopted the Alcoa name just three years later.
- In 1889. The company developed an aluminum tea kettle to pique the interest of cookware manufacturers.
- In 1910, the company introduced aluminum foil to grateful at-home chefs around the world.
- Alcoa’s invention in 1962: pull tab rings on aluminum cans. Alcoa first used the tabs on the Pittsburgh Brewing Company’s Iron City beer.
- Alcoa aluminum was used in the Apollo 11 landing module Eagle, which landed on the moon in July 1969. Aluminum usage is rapidly increasing today in the automotive and aerospace industries due to its light weight, alloy strengths, formability and corrosion resistance.
- Over the years, Alcoa has made substantial grants to the Pittsburgh area through the Alcoa Foundation. Typically, between $30 million to $40 million (per year) was donated to various worthy causes,. “There was a strong sense of obligation to support the communities where we were based and where we operate.”
Founded in the Rhine River valley, the pharmaceutical, agricultural and chemical conglomerate Bayer was almost a century old when it first put a footprint in Pittsburgh in 1958 as Mobay Chemical, a joint venture with Monsanto, marketing polyurethane.
Two years later, Bayer opened its campus on the Parkway West in Robinson Township, which soon became the global corporation’s North American headquarters. Known for a time as Miles Laboratories.
- Friedrich Bayer founded the company in 1863, using the coal tar created during coke manufacturing to make synthetic dyes, which he sold to a growing textile market.
- At the beginning of the 20th century, Bayer’s chemists synthesized and trademarked two famous drugs: aspirin and heroin (which was marketed for decades as a non-addictive cough syrup.)
- Bayer succeeded Alcoa as sponsor of the giant Pittsburgh sign on Mount Washington.
- Gerhard Domagk won the Nobel Prize in 1939 for discovering that sulfa drugs could stop infection.
- Bayer launched a bid to buy Monsanto, its former Mobay Chemical business partner, to create an agricultural titan combining Bayer’s pesticides and Monsanto’s seeds.
David L. Clark: founded the D.L. Clark Company in 1886 in a row house on the North Side, initially selling his confections on the street. The brand, and the company, took off during the following decades.
While the NECCO company purchased Clark in 1999, Pittsburgh maintains a taste for Clark Bars. “It still has a huge following in western Pennsylvania,” says Michael McGee, president and CEO of Necco. “That is still its geographic home.”
Clark’s legacy isn’t limited to the bar bearing the company name. Among the company’s many other confectionery inventions was the Zagnut bar, still manufactured today by Hershey.
- At the North Side location where the D.L. Clark Company was founded. The building at 528 E. Ohio St. (which was rebuilt in 1910 but stands on the spot of the original Clark site) now houses Priory Fine Pastries.
- The famous Clark sign, which spelled out the letters in the chocolate bar’s name at night Clark Bar & Grill; it’s visible from Reedsdale Street.
- Predating the “fun size” varieties of candy bars found especially around Halloween, Clark began manufacturing a 5-cent version of its signature bar, which was wrapped individually. Originally crafted for soldiers during World War I.
One of the world’s biggest food brands began in 1860 in Sharpsburg, where 16-year-old Henry J. Heinz.
Heinz added ketchup, sauerkraut, vinegar, pickles and dozens of other items to the product portfolio, but he stuck with “57 varieties” as a slogan because he liked the sound of that number.
Heinz was a master of promotion, not only with the pickle pins he introduced at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, but also with a giant Heinz pickle made of green light bulbs that was one of the first electric signs in Manhattan. Heinz always used clear glass bottles to emphasize the quality of his products and was a vocal advocate of federal regulations that became the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.
Investors led by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital paid $23 billion for the company in 2013, then merged it with another grocery last year to create Kraft Heinz. The corporation employs approximately 700 in Pittsburgh, which shares co-headquarters status with Chicago.
- Heinz sells 650 million bottles of ketchup every year. Most of the ketchup is made at the company’s plant in Fremont, Ohio, near Toledo.
- Heinz’s grandson, H.J. “Jack” Heinz, led efforts to create Downtown’s Cultural District, beginning with the renovation of the Loew’s Penn Theatre, now Heinz Hall.
- Great-grandson John Heinz was serving his third term in the U.S. Senate when he was killed in 1991 in a plane crash near Philadelphia. Pittsburgh’s Sen. John Heinz History Center is named in his honor.
Kennametal is the largest manufacturer of metal cutting tools in the United States, the second largest manufacturer worldwide, and the company also makes mining and construction tools.
Kennametal long has been a keystone of Pittsburgh’s industrial fabric, the company’s public profile generally has remained relatively quiet. One exception to that: The company’s signage graced PNC Park from 2001 to 2015, with a Kennametal “K” posted along the upper deck of the left-field line every time a Pirates’ pitcher recorded a strikeout during a home game.
- In 1938 when it was founded in Latrobe as the McKenna Metals Company. Founder Philip M. McKenna crafted a tungsten-titanium alloy for cutting tools, a significant breakthrough in efficiency and strength in machining steel. The name changed to Kennametal Inc. upon the company’s incorporation in 1943.
- Mining was as important to eastern Pennsylvania as steel was to the western part of the state for much of the 20th century. After the end of the war, Kennametal focused on mining applications for its materials; the company was pivotal in the invention of the continuous mining machine.
- One iconic brand moved into the digs known for another in 2015, when Kennametal moved its global headquarters to the U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown.
- The small town of Latrobe remains a part of the global brand today, hosting the company’s corporate center and technology facility.
PPG, the most visible symbol of the company is all glass, the castle-esque PPG Place complex Downtown, the company’s business now is focused on coatings and paints.
Brightly painted Southwest jets, vivid green John Deere tractors and gleaming construction equipment are as memorable as they are thanks to PPG’s coatings. Another PPG innovation; Electrocoat puts an electronic charge into the coating while it’s being applied to the car, which allows the coating to adhere to the body more effectively, thus decreasing the risk of corrosion.
PPG’s global reach (it operates in more than 70 countries) it remains a major presence in the region, with headquarters Downtown and facilities in Allison Park, Monroeville, Springdale and Cranberry Township.
- Founded by John Pitcairn and John B. Ford in 1883, the original Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. manufactured large panes of glass. As the company diversified in the 1900’s, the name was changed to PPG Industries, symbolically represented the rising prominence of paint among the company’s offerings.
- PPG introduced Herculite tempered glass in the 1930s. The product, still on the market today, is many times stronger and more shatter-resistant than plate glass.
- Pittsburgh’s green-energy focus isn’t a 21st-century development. When demand for solar energy first rose in the 1970s, PPG created the first flat-plate solar collector.
- Also among PPG’s glass innovations: Transitions eyeglass lenses, which automatically darken in sunlight to block UV rays. They were introduced in the 1990s.
- With 98 percent of PPG’s business now in the coatings and paint sectors, the company’s products brands such as Glidden, Olympic and PPG Paints.
The H.J. Heinz Company, Pittsburgh’s most iconic foodmaker, bought the fish processor in 1962 and moved the company to Pittsburgh at the turn of this century.
Pittsburgh has been fortunate to be the home of many iconic brands, and StarKist is an important member of our corporate community here.
- Despite being a Heinz-owned company since 1963, the company didn’t relocate StarKist’s headquarters to the North Side until 2000. It’s since been sold twice, to Del Monte in 2002 and Korean company Dongwon in 2008.
- The North Shore, has the giant, cartoon Charlie the Tuna has graced StarKist headquarters only since 2010.
Landmarks, buildings and bridges from coast to coast have been constructed with the company’s products for more than a century. Created on the bones of seven previous companies (including Andrew Carnegie’s Carnegie Steel Company).
Diversification in the 1980s led to a name change, as U.S. Steel temporarily became a subsidiary of the larger USX corporation; a restructuring in the early 2000s did away with that brand, and the company’s facilities and landmarks in the area (such as the iconic U.S. Steel Tower in Downtown Pittsburgh).
The Steel City can’t boast the number of mills and steelworkers it did at one time, the company’s bustling Mon Valley Works operations in Clairton, Braddock and West Mifflin keep the region’s industrial heritage alive; between those facilities and the company’s headquarters and research centers, more than 4,000 people in the Pittsburgh area work for U.S. Steel.
- When it was built, the U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown, was the tallest building between New York and Chicago, at 841 feet.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers logo is an adaptation of the Steelmark logo created by U.S. Steel in 1960. U.S. Steel eventually turned over the rights to the logo to the American Iron and Steel Institute; the Steelers petitioned the institute to allow them to change “Steel” to “Steelers” inside the emblem.
- Upon its incorporation in 1901, U.S. Steel became the largest business enterprise in the history of the world. The new company was valued at $1.4 billion.
Supplied American and global consumer markets with home appliances for decades; a Westinghouse pressurized water reactor powered America’s first commercial nuclear power plant in Shippingport.
From train signals and switches to natural gas drilling and pipelines to electrical power generation, securing more than 300 patents for Westinghouse and creating a global brand that still represents innovation and technology more than a century.
The corporation doubled down on its broadcasting background in the 1990s, selling off its industrial businesses and buying CBS. But Westinghouse Electric Company remains in Cranberry Township, now owned by Toshiba and employing close to 4,000 people in the region; the company keeps light bulbs shining with the technology behind approximately half of the world’s nuclear power plants.
- KDKA went live Nov. 2, 1920, delivering election returns to become the world’s first commercial radio broadcast. The next year, the station would be first to broadcast a game of baseball (Pirates over Phillies 8-5) and college football (Pitt 21, West Virginia 13).
- The company’s experimental “Atom smasheR” in Forest Hills, built in 1937 and shaped like a giant light bulb, was taken down last year.