Guardian Industries president Bill Davidson (left) and engineer Dick Alonzo prepare to start up the furnace at Carleton in 1970.

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.

With the launch of the Carleton float line, Guardian became the first new company to enter the glass manufacturing business in 50 years. The facility was 275,000 square feet and pulled 350 tons of glass per day. In three years, Guardian launched a second float line at the site.

“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 was learning on the job how to start up and operate a float glass manufacturing line,” adds Rick Zoulek, executive vice president of 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, Guardian’s first in the Americas.

The Carleton plant’s growth included the addition of coated glass capabilities in 1977 to improve performance and aesthetics, and a tempering furnace in 1978. Carleton was also the site at which the Guardian SunGuard product family of value-added glass coatings was launched in 1995. Carleton helped Guardian to another milestone in 2018 when the plant began producing jumbo coated glass, the company’s first 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,” says Zoulek. “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.”



  1. Very interesting, would love to go on a tour of the planet.

  2. Just great to see this historic moment now at it’s 50th anniversary. Being a part of the growth for a decade gives me immense pride, and happiness that it continues with expansions in Carleton and elsewhere across the planet!

Comments are closed.