Guardian Sells Two Automotive Glass Subsidiaries; Retains Custom Glass Solutions

The deal by Guardian Industries Corp. to sell Guardian Automotive Products (GAPI) and Guardian Automotive –E S.A. (GA ESA) to Central Glass Co. Ltd., parent company of Carlex Glass Co., is just the latest move by the company to reduce its automotive glass footprint. Guardian retains a foothold in the marketplace with Custom Glass Solutions and the RV automotive glass claims administration business.

“The acquisition does not include Custom Glass Solutions (Upper Sandusky, Millbury and the RV Glass Network); these businesses remain part of Guardian Industries Corp.,” says Matt Eder, marketing manager for Custom Glass Solutions.

He is referring to the automotive glass plant in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, the automotive glass and glass fabrication plant in Millbury, Ohio, and the RV claims business in Worthington, Ohio.

The transaction by Central Glass Co. Ltd. includes three automotive glass manufacturing sites and the GAPI headquarters. The glass plants are located in Auburn, Ind.; Ligonier, Ind.; and Grevenmacher, Luxembourg. Central Glass Group plans to operate the acquired businesses under the Carlex name.

Guardian began divesting of its automotive glass business in November 2013, announcing the sale and liquidation of its distribution centers.

In early December 2013, Safelite Group announced the purchase of substantially all of the vehicle glass repair and replacement assets of Guardian Auto Glass LLC, a joint venture of Guardian Industries Corp. and LRST LLC. Safelite also acquired Guardian Glass Network, the company’s vehicle glass insurance claims division.

Later in December, Guardian launched Custom Glass Solutions, which focuses on offering glass for the bus, truck, train and off-highway vehicles markets. At the time, officials said the new company “reinforces” their commitment to serving the automotive glass needs of various transportation segments.

“Our people will be joining an established brand with a long-term focus on the automotive glass business,” says Mike Morrison, president of Guardian Automotive, about the latest deal with Central Glass Co.

“Carlex’s agreement to purchase Guardian’s OEM business, coupled with its previous purchase of Zeledyne’s auto glass manufacturing facility in Nashville and aftermarket distribution center in Lebanon, Tenn., is strong evidence of its commitment to the automotive glass business in both OEM and aftermarket,” he says.

In 1989, Central Glass Japan established Central Glass America Inc., and through it, Carlex Glass Co. was established as a joint venture with Ford.

In 1995, Carlex Glass Co. became a wholly owned subsidiary of Central Glass after dissolving the joint venture with Ford, according to officials.

In 2011, Carlex acquired automotive glass assets from Zeledyne, which included the float and automotive fabricated glass plant in Nashville, Tenn. (originally owned by Ford), and the automotive replacement glass distribution center in Lebanon, Tenn. Carlex is now the exclusive distributor of Carlite branded parts for the aftermarket in the United States.

“We are acquiring these Guardian subsidiaries to further strengthen our global automotive glass business,” says Shuichi Sarasawa, president and CEO of Central Glass Co. Ltd.

“This move will expand our geographic footprint and add to our product portfolio, in addition to increasing the number of customers we serve,” adds Jim Shepherd, president and chief operating officer of Carlex. “Add that to our existing capabilities, and the combined organization is positioned to further improve support to our customers.”

The closing of the Guardian transaction is subject to certain regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

“We extend a warm welcome to the current Guardian employees who will be joining the Carlex family,” says Shepherd. “This transaction will help build upon Carlex’s participation in the resurgence of manufacturing in the U.S. and extend our reach into Europe.”

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