In 1903, Owens invented a new machine for making bottles and with the financial baking of Libbey, formed his own company. He later acquired the Colburn Machine Glass Company after becoming intrigued by Irving Colburn’s trendsetting flat-glass production technique. After those patents were sold to Toledo Glass Company Owens formed a partnership with Colburn and in 1916, the Libbey-Owens Sheet Glass Company was born. The company produced laminated sheet glass and started a partnership with the Edward Ford Plate Glass Company in 1930.
The 1920s saw economic expansion nationally and in the Mountain State. West Virginia was home to major glass manufacturing plants within three of its biggest cities, Huntington, Fairmont, and Charleston. Charleston was not only home to the Owens Bottle Company in the upper Kanawha Valley, but also the Libbey-Owens-Ford sheet glass plant. The two were so close together that they were often seen as one in the same. Homes built in the surrounding area remain in use to this day. The homes were compact in their design, with lots being no more than 20 feet wide and structures being 15 feet by 30 feet.
This area provided both natural resources and transportation by river and railway, allowing Libbey-Owens-Ford to become the largest producers of flat glass in the world. However, global competition led to reduced orders and production started to fall in the 1950s. In 1963, the bottle plant closed and on May 1st, 1980 the Libbey-Owens-Ford sheet glass plant closed as well and was later demolished.