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Guardian Glass Carleton Celebrates 50 Years of Operation

Guardian Glass is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of its Carleton, Mich., glass plant, and with it the company’s entry into float glass production.

Under the leadership of William “Bill” Davidson, Carleton pulled the first ribbon of glass on August 20, 1970. Up until that point, the company had been a manufacturer of automotive laminated windshields using glass sourced from others.

Guardian’s first location was on Campbell Avenue in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of Guardian Glass.)

With the launch of the Carleton float line, Guardian became the first new company to enter the glass manufacturing business in 50 years. The state-of-the-art facility was 275,000 square feet and pulled 350 tons of glass per day. In just three years, Guardian launched a second float line at the site and started its trajectory of global growth that continues to this day.

“It is a testament to the hard work and dedication to safety of all our employees over the years, and to our customers and suppliers, that our Carleton team has maintained 50 years of float glass production consistently at the highest levels of quality,” says Ron Vaupel, Guardian Industries President and CEO. “It is wonderful to celebrate this first float plant as we prepare to launch a new float glass plant in Poland just over a month from now.”

"The team that led Guardian into the float glass business were learning on the job how to start up and operate a float glass manufacturing line,” explains Rick Zoulek, Executive Vice President, Guardian Glass Americas. “They illustrate the best of the entrepreneurial spirit at Guardian. This environment made success and growth at Carleton possible, creating momentum that carried Guardian toward rapid expansion across the Americas and then globally.”

The jumbo coater is the newest addition to Guardian Glass’ Carleton float glass plant. Another example of how the Carleton plant has provided company firsts, this jumbo coater is Guardian’s first in the Americas. (Photo courtesy of Guardian Glass.)

The Carleton plant’s growth included the addition in 1977 of the capability to coat glass to improve performance and aesthetics and a tempering furnace in 1978. Carleton was also the site at which the highly successful Guardian SunGuard® product family of high value-added glass coatings was launched in 1995. Carleton helped Guardian to another milestone in 2018 when the plant started to produce jumbo coated glass, the first Guardian jumbo coater installation in the Americas. The team has completed several cold tank repairs over the five decades to maintain the assets, improve safety and environmental controls, increase capacity and better meet customer demand.

“We extend our thanks to the Village of Carleton, Ash Township, Monroe County, and the surrounding communities,” Zoulek continues. “And we thank every employee over the last 50 years, many of whom went on to support other Guardian plants. Today, this dedicated team is continuing to transform for the next 50 years.”