Giving its customers a break would never occur to Guardian Industries, one of the world's largest glassmakers. With multiple facilities on five continents, Guardian produces primarily float glass and fabricated glass products for the automobile and construction markets. It also makes architectural glass (mirrors), fiberglass, and automotive trim parts. Through its Guardian Building Products, the company operates one of the largest building supply distribution centers in North America. Former president and CEO William Davidson took Guardian Industries public in 1968, buying it back in 1985. Ownership of the privately held company remains with the Davidson family.
Guardian faces off stiff industry competition by continuing to expand its manufacturing footprint and portfolio of glass and building materials. Its direction has gained traction largely through investment in eco-friendly product research and development, as well as pursuit of favorable business acquisitions and partnerships.
Bolstering its Guardian Automotive subsidiary, the company formed a joint venture, Guardian Auto Glass, in fall 2010 to drive its automotive retail glass presence. Guardian, which holds a majority stake in the venture, partners with LRST partners, led by former PPG and PGW automotive aftermarket executives. Guardian also enhanced its dominance in the auto products industry by acquiring plastic, chrome-plating auto parts manufacturer Siegel-Robert Automotive in 2008. The deal garnered a well-regarded brand with an established customer base.
In the building products arena, Guardian shared the spotlight with the 2010 opening of the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates, the world's tallest building. More than 1.8 million sq. ft. of Guardian specialty solar and thermal glass covers the building. It was one of the largest coated glass orders in the company's history.
Guardian's Building Products Distribution subsidiary has expanded in recent years through a number of alliances, too. The company allied with Lapolla Industries, Inc., in 2009 to provide spray polyurethane foam for commercial and residential insulation end-uses. Other partnerships include Sapa Fabricated Products, part of Indalex Holdings Finance, and Agalite Shower & Bath Enclosures, part of Hartung Glass Industries, to manufacture and market Guardian ShowerGuard across North America.
Guardian has also set to take advantage of the current demand for alternative energy. The company announced plans in late 2010 to invest more than $2 million to expand operations at its Galax, Virginia-based Consolidated Glass & Mirror facility. Once complete, the company will manufacture specially coated mirrors used in the technology of concentrating solar power. The power vaporizes water into steam to power a turbine for the generation of electricity.
The company has also sought to maintain its industry lead by increasing its operations in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. Among many, manufacturing plants are positioned in Egypt (a stake in Egyptian Glass Company), as well as float glass plants and treatment facilities in Poland (2002), the UK (2003), Mexico (2004), and Russia and Brazil (2009). In addition to offering economies of scale, these sites serve local demand, catering to specific customer requirements, as well as help to control costs.
Davidson passed away in 2009. He is succeeded by a management team selected by Davidson during his 52-year tenure with Guardian. He was also the managing partner of the Detroit Pistons NBA team. – less