Ball Corporation

Ball Corporation
Traded as NYSE: BLL
S&P 500 Component
Industry Packaging, Aerospace
Founded 1880
Headquarters Broomfield, Colorado, U.S.
Key people
John A. Hayes, CEO
Products Metal containers, Packaging, Space manufacturing
Revenue IncreaseUS$14.630 Billion (FY 2013)[1]
IncreaseUS$468.6 million (FY 2011)[1]
IncreaseUS$466.3 million (FY 2011)[1]
Total assets IncreaseUS$7.285 billion (FY 2011)[1]
Total equity IncreaseUS$1.219 billion (FY 2011)[1]
Number of employees

Ball Corporation is an American company headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, that is best known for its early production of glass jars, lids, and related products used for home canning. Since its founding in Buffalo, New York, in 1880,[2] when it was known as the Wooden Jacket Can Company, the Ball company has expanded and diversified into other business ventures, including aerospace technology, and became the world's largest manufacturer of recyclable metal beverage and food containers.

The Ball brothers renamed their business the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company, incorporated in 1886. Its headquarters, as well as its glass and metal manufacturing operations, were relocated to Muncie, Indiana, by 1889. The business was renamed the Ball Brothers Company in 1922 and the Ball Corporation in 1969. It became a publicly traded stock company on the New York Stock Exchange in 1973. Ball exited the home canning business in 1993. (Alltrista, a former subsidiary of Ball Corporation, spun off as a separate company and was renamed Jarden Corporation. Jarden is licensed to use the Ball registered trademark on its line of home-canning products, including glass jars and lids.)


Early years

In 1880, Frank C. and Edmund B. Ball, two of the five Ball brothers, borrowed $200 from their uncle, George Harvey Ball, founder and first president of Keuka College, to buy the Wooden Jacket Can Company, a small manufacturing business in Buffalo, New York. Soon, the three other brothers (William, Lucius, and George) joined Frank and Edmund in Buffalo.[3][4] (Years later, the brothers reciprocated their uncle's early assistance by providing financial support to Keuka College.)[5]

The Ball brothers' company made tin cans encased in wooden jackets to hold kerosene, paints, or varnishes.[3] Because the acid used to refine kerosene caused corrosion in tin, the brothers decided to use glass for the inserts of the wood-jacketed cans. Initially, they bought the glass containers from a factory in Poughkeepsie, New York.[6] Around 1885 a group of Belgian glassblowers who were passing through Buffalo encouraged the Ball brothers to build their own factory.[7] The Ball brothers purchased land in East Buffalo, where they built a two-story brick building for the stamping works and a one-story frame factory for the glass works. Although a fire destroyed an early glass factory in Buffalo, the brothers rebuilt and expanded the business. To keep the new factory's furnace operating at full capacity, the company introduced new products and made improvements to its glass and metal manufacturing processes.[3][8]

Around 1884, when the brothers discovered that the patent covering the Mason Improved fruit jar had expired, their company began manufacturing canning jars in their glassworks.[9] The Ball brothers' "Buffalo" jars, which ranged in size from half-gallon to pint and midget, manufactured during a part of 1884, 1885, and 1886. Jar lids were produced in their metal fabricating factory. The Ball Company's logo was embossed onto the surface of the jars, which were made of either amber or aqua (blue-green) glass.[3][10][11]

On February 13, 1886, the company incorporated as Ball Brothers Manufacturing Company.[12] About the same time the factory in Buffalo was destroyed by fire in 1886, the brothers began to consider relocating their business closer to natural gas supplies.[13] While on a business trip in Cleveland, Ohio, Frank heard about the natural gas boom in Findlay, Ohio. After visiting the town, he told Edmund about the economic advantages of using natural gas instead of coal for manufacturing glass. Edmund visited several towns in the gas fields, including Muncie, Indiana. The two brothers decided to make a more extensive trip to investigate the possibility of establishing a glass factory closer to an abandoned supply of natural gas. They briefly had doubts about extending beyond Buffalo, but decided to explore the use of natural gas as a means of expanding their glass-making business.[3][14]

Frank and Edmund first visited in Fostoria, Ohio, where they were enthusiastically welcomed. The next stop was Bowling Green, Ohio. After a night in town, Edmund returned to Buffalo, but Frank remained. After Frank had been in Bowling Green for about a week, he received a telegram from James Boyce, a Muncie businessman. Frank, who had become weary of Bowling Green, was ready for a change and "decided to run down to Muncie and see what they had to offer."[15] As Frank recalled his early discussions with Muncie's town leaders, "There was nothing about the town that particularly appealed to me, but the men were all courteous, kind, and businesslike."[16] Frank agreed to a proposal that offered the Ball brothers 7 acres (2.8 hectares) of land for a factory site, a gas well, and $5,000 in cash to encourage the move to Muncie. In addition, city officials agreed to provide a railroad connection to the brothers' new facilities. By September 1887 construction had begun on the Muncie factory and the Ball brothers began plans to relocate their glass manufacturing operations from New York. Frank remained in Muncie to get the factory up and running, while Edmund closed the glass factory in Buffalo, then moved to Muncie to join Frank. Their brothers, William and George, remained in Buffalo to operate the stamping works and a factory in Bath, New York.[17][18][19]

In 1888 the company opened its first glass manufacturing facility in Muncie.[3][19] On February 18 fires were started in the new factory's furnace; on March 1 its first glass products were made.[20] The first products to be manufactured in the new factory in Muncie were oil containers and lamp chimneys, not fruit jars. By 1889 the Ball company's headquarters and its glass and metal manufacturing operations had relocated to Muncie.[3][19] The other Ball brothers moved to Indiana in the 1890s. George relocated to Muncie in 1893, William arrived in 1897, and Lucius, a company shareholder and a physician, moved to Muncie in 1894.[21][22]

In the late nineteenth century, the company continued to grow and prosper, but not without experiencing some challenges. Fires at its Muncie factories and warehouses in 1891 and 1898 damaged its facilities, but they were rebuilt. Despite the economic panic of 1893, the company was able to produce 22 million fruit jars for the year beginning in September 1894, and 37 million jars by 1897. When natural gas supplies in the area began to diminish, the Ball brothers installed gas converters to use Indiana coal in their factories and continued manufacturing operations. The company's F. C. Ball machine, patented in 1898, introduced mass production into its glass-blowing process and gave it a competitive market advantage. By 1905 the company was producing 60 million canning jars per year and had acquired other glass manufacturers, expanding its operations to include seven factories in addition to its main facilities at Muncie.[3][23][24]

In a continuation of the company's difficulties in Muncie, workers organized with Local 200 (Glass Workers) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) at the main facility went on strike in March 1910, with the strikers demanding wage increases. A settlement was quickly reached on March 29, but company management reneged on the agreement and threatened to declare a lockout.[25][26] The strike continued, but was weakened by the refusal of machinists affiliated with the American Federation of Labor to join the strike. By the end of April, the strike was lost.[27]


Ball remained a family-owned business for more than ninety years. Renamed the Ball Brothers Company in 1922, it is best known for manufacturing fruit jars, lids, and related products for home canning. The company also entered into other business ventures. Because the four main components of their core product line of canning jars included glass, zinc, rubber, and paper, the Ball company acquired a zinc strip rolling mill to produce metal lids for their glass jars, manufactured rubber sealing rings for the jars, and acquired a paper mill to fabricate the packaging used in shipping their products. The company also acquired tin, steel, and later, plastic companies.[28]

The Ball company faced additional challenges and opportunities during the Great Depression and World War II. Prior to 1933, Ball was the largest domestic manufacturer of home canning jars. In 1939 it manufactured 54 percent of all the canning jars made in the United States. However, a drop in demand for the jars during the 1930s led the Ball brothers to begin manufacturing other types of jars and bottles for commercial use and expand into other lines of business. During World War II the company's operations were converted to produce shells and machine parts for the military.[29] After the war, Ball's glass-making business was hindered by an antitrust case in which the company was one of several defendants. The legal case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The final decision, which was handed down in 1947, restricted Ball's ability to acquire other glass manufacturers and other businesses producing glass-making machinery without prior court approval. In 1949 the decreasing demand for canning jars caused the company to suffer its first net operating loss. With legal restrictions on the company's ability to expand its glass-making business and declining demand for its canning jars, Ball company executives decided that in order to grow it had to further diversity its holdings.[30]

In the 1950s the Ball company entered the aerospace industry. Laboratories for the Ball Brothers Research Corporation were established at Boulder, Colorado, and in Muncie. The company began manufacturing aerospace equipment in 1959. Its OSO-1 (Orbiting Solar Observatory) satellite, designed and built for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with $1.4 million in grants, launched into space on March 7, 1962, at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its success led to additional contracts to build more satellites, a total of seven, but not without some losses. An explosion killed three workers and damaged the company's OSO-2 satellite in 1964.[28][31]

The company continued to expand into other areas such as avionics, aerospace systems, and metal beverage and food containers. Renamed the Ball Corporation in 1969, it acquired Jeffco Manufacturing Company, a maker of recyclable aluminum beverage cans, and became the largest producer of recyclable beverage cans in the world.[32][33][34] Although glass production in Muncie ceased in 1962, it continued at other Ball plants until its final until its final glass manufacturing operations were sold in 1996.[28]

Ball Corporation's stock went public on July 13, 1972. It became a publicly-traded stock company on the New York Stock Exchange in 1973.[28] The stock began trading at $26 per share on the NYSE on December 17, 1973, using the trading symbol BLL.

Ball no longer produces its glass canning jars. In the early 1990s Ball exited the home-canning business, when it established a subsidiary named Alltrista, which consisted of seven smaller Ball subsidiaries that included the Ball jar and other canning-related products. When Altrista Corporation became a separate company in April 1993, Ball shareholders received one share of Alltrista stock for every four shares of Ball stock. Altrista was renamed Jarden Corporation in 2001. Jarden retains the license to use the Ball registered trademark on its line of home-canning products, a part of Jarden's branded consumables business.[28][35] (Jarden produces lids for several brands of fruit jars at its Muncie plant and its jars are made by a variety of glass producers.)

In 1998 the Ball Corporation moved its corporate headquarters from Muncie to Broomfield, Colorado, where its oversees global operations as a manufacturer of plastic and metal food and beverage containers, as well as a manufacturer of equipment and supplier of services to the aerospace industry.[1][28]

Company milestones

Major subsidiaries

Environmental record

The Ball Corporation has made improvements to its environmental record since 2006, when the company began its first formal sustainability efforts.[47] In 2008 the Ball Corporation issued its first sustainability report and began releases subsequent sustainability reports on its website.[44] The first report was an ACCA-Ceres North American Sustainability Awards cowinner of the Best First Time Reporter award in 2009.

In the Toxic 100 list for 2004, using data from 2002, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) identified the Ball Corporation as the 59th-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States, with an estimated 4.57 million pounds of toxic air released annually.[48] The PERI report for 2008, using data from 2005, ranked the Ball Corporation 54th on its Toxic 100 list; PERI's report for 2010, using data from 2006, ranked it 65th.[49] The PERI studies indicated major pollutants included glycol ethers and 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene.[50]

The PERI Toxic 100 Air Polluters list for 2013 ranked the Ball Corporation as 619 in its list of companies producing the most air pollution in the United States.[51] In 2015 Newsweek ranked the Ball Corporation as 70th in their "Green 2015" report, which reviewed the environmental performances of the 500 largest publicly-traded companies in the United States.[52][53][54]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Ball Corporation, Form 10-K, Annual Report, Filing Date Feb 22, 2012" (PDF). Retrieved Feb 5, 2013.
  2. "Ball Corporation, Form 10-K, Annual Report, Filing Date Apr 1, 1996". Retrieved Feb 5, 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Barbara Quigley, "The Ball Brothers" in Gugin, Linda C.; James E. St. Clair, eds. (2015). Indiana's 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-87195-387-2.
  4. Anthony O. Edmonds; E. Bruce Geelhoed (2001). Ball State University: An Interpretive History. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. p. 47. ISBN 9780253340177.
  5. Philip A. Africa (1974). Keuka College: A History. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press. pp. 114–15. OCLC 745947.
  6. Frank Clayton Ball (1937). Memoirs of Frank Clayton Ball. Muncie, IN: Scott Printing Company. pp. 50–60. OCLC 3918177.
  7. Edmund F. Ball (1960). From Fruit Jars to Satellites: The Story of Ball Brothers Company, Incorporated. New York: Necomen Society in North America. p. 12.
  8. Ball, Memoirs of Frank Clayton Ball, pp. 63–64.
  9. Frederic A. Birmingham (1980). Ball Corporation, The First Century. Indianapolis, IN: Curtis Publishing Company. p. 70. ISBN 9780893870393.
  10. Birmingham, pp. 56–58.
  11. William F. Brantley (1975). A Collector's Guide to Ball Jars. Muncie, IN: Rosemary Humbert Martin. p. 3. OCLC 3104299.
  12. 1 2 Birmingham, p. 56.
  13. Ball, Memoirs of Frank Clayton Ball, pp. 70–72.
  14. Ball, Memoirs of Frank Clayton Ball, p. 72.
  15. Ball, Memoirs of Frank Clayton Ball, p. 76.
  16. Ball, Memoirs of Frank Clayton Ball, p. 77.
  17. Ball, Memoirs of Frank Clayton Ball, pp. 78–79.
  18. Edmonds and Geelhoed, pp. 48–49.
  19. 1 2 3 Ray Boomhower (Winter 1995). "Destination Indiana: Oakhurst, East-Central Indiana's Natural Beauty". Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. 7 (1): 44.
  20. Birmingham, p. 70.
  21. 1 2 Quigley, p. 15.
  22. Earl Conn (2003). Beneficence: Stories about the Ball Families of Muncie. Muncie, IN: Minnetrista Cultural Foundation, Inc. p. 33. ISBN 1-884586-09-0.
  23. Edmonds and Geelhoed, pp. 49–50.
  24. Birmingham, pp. 80–81.
  25. Upton, Austin. "IWW Yearbook 1910". IWW History Project. University of Washington. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  26. "Glass Workers Strike at Muncie". Industrial Worker. 2 (4). 16 April 1910. p. 1.
  27. "A. F. of L. Breaks Strike". Industrial Worker. 2 (5). 23 April 1910. p. 2.
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Quigley, pp. 14–15.
  29. Birmingham, pp. 139–40.
  30. Birmingham, pp. 113–16.
  31. Birmingham, pp. 171–72.
  32. Birmingham, p. 176.
  33. "Ball Corporation, Form 8-K, Current Report, Filing Date January 27, 1994". Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  34. "Ball Corporation, Form 10-K, Annual Report, Filing Date March 12, 2004" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  35. 1 2 "Alltrista Corporation History". Funding Universe. Retrieved 2016-03-25. "Company History". Jarden Corporation. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  36. Edmonds and Geelhoed, p. 50.
  37. Birmingham, p. 77.
  38. The first Ball Blue Book appeared in July 1915. See Brantley, pp. 21, 39, and 76.
  39. Birmingham, p. 142.
  40. Birmingham, p. 157.
  41. Eliasohn, Michael (2007-06-01). "Industrial Rubber to shut down". The Herald Palladium. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  42. "Saint-Gobain Joins with Ball on Glass Venture". The New York Times. 1995-06-28. Retrieved 2009-11-02.
  43. "Saint-Gobain buys out American partner". The New York Times. 1996-09-17. Retrieved 2009-11-02.
  44. 1 2 Toward a Sustainable Future: Ball Corporation 2007 Sustainability Report (pdf). Broomfield, CO: Ball Corporation. 2008. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  45. Steve Gelsi (2010-12-08). "Ball Corp. Acquiring Aerocan for $292 Million". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2016-03-31.
  46. Telegraph Newspaper
  47. Ball Corporation: 2014 Sustainability Report (PDF). Broomfield, CO: Ball Corporation. 2014. p. 26.
  48. "Toxic 100 Air Polluters Index: 2004 report, based on 2002 data". Political Economy Research Institute. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  49. "Toxic 100 Air Polluters Index: 2008 report, based on 2005 data". Political Economy Research Institute. Retrieved 2016-03-25. "Toxic 100 Air Polluters, 2010 report". Political Economy Research Institute. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  50. "Ball Corporation - Chemicals". Political Economy Research Institute. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
  51. "Ball Corp.". Political Economy Research Institute. August 2013. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  52. "Green 2015". Newsweek. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  53. In 2009 the Ball Corporation ranked 111th in the Newsweek list of "Green Rankings" for U.S. companies. "Newsweek –Green Ranking-Ball". Archived from the original on September 28, 2009. Retrieved July 22, 2010. See "Greenest Big Companies in America – The 2009 List". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-07-22.
  54. The Newsweek list for 2014 ranked the Ball Corporation third among the top ten green companies in the U.S. See "Top 10 Green Companies in the U.S.". Newsweek. Retrieved 2016-03-30.


Further reading

External links

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