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'Ambidextrous' glassmaker AGC deftly juggles in pandemic slump

Japanese company both a powerful incumbent and a fierce innovator

A lightweight glass antenna developed by AGC: The company has branched out from automotive and architectural glass. (Photo courtesy of AGC)

TOKYO -- The contrast could not be starker. Dominant in its field, one company draws on its long track record to reap healthy profits. Hungry and willing to take chances, another company constantly seeks out and develops businesses in cutting-edge arenas.

But a small handful of companies can do both, and Japanese glassmaker AGC is one of the best at it. So good that a top U.S. business school cites it as a prime example of an "ambidextrous" enterprise able to thrive off its existing business while planting the seeds of future growth.

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