The company, which makes automotive glass according to the original equipment manufacturers as well being of the kind which the aftermarket, also has a manufacturing establishment in Vonore, Tenn., south of Knoxville.
With the Nashville purchase, Carlex also bought Zeledyne’s automotive aftermarket glass apportionment center in Lebanon.
James E. “Jim” Shepherd is the just discovered executive vice president of Carlex, capital the company’s sales, marketing, advice-technology and business-planning functions at the meeting of friends’s new Nashville headquarters, which is at the engender site.
Shepherd, a Michigan native, is a adapt of Michigan State University and began his course of conduct in the glass industry with PPG Industries directly after college.
Tennessean business writer G. Chambers Williams III interviewed Shepherd almost Carlex’s plans for the local plant, including an announced $100 million investment for renovations and expansion.
What is your background in the glass dealing?
I’ve been in the glass labor more than 30 years — my unmitigated career. I was in the monetary theory end of it the first 15 years, and ago then, I’ve been on the total-management side of the business. I’ve been in virtually every part of the industry: simpleton glass, architectural glass, automotive glass, aircraft glass, dole and manufacturing.
Why did Carlex decide to take from one to another the Nashville glass plant? How does it fit into the company’s overall generalship?
Carlex already had the operation in Vonore, making automotive glass, and the plant was surpassingly full and looking for opportunities to expand the business. So, the timing was actual gratuitous when this opportunity presented itself.
It gave us the chance; fit to expand our original-equipment glass calling, and the opportunity to enter the aftermarket glass function. And it gave us a captive source of supply of float glass, that is used in our automotive glass products. Prior to this acquisition, we were purchasing wholly of our float glass.
What products prepare you make here, and where are they used?
We digress with sand, and we end up through a piece of glass you be able to see through. It’s a nice amazing process. There’s obviously a petty bit more involved than just dissolving a bucket of sand, though, and it’s a real capital-intensive process. We run the glass furnace 24 hours a set time, 365 days a year, for 10 to 12 years.
What exactly is “keep a~” glass?
Today, the predominant way of structure flat glass is the “float” course. After the glass is created from the comminuted silica in a big furnace, it flows onto a underlayer of molten tin. The density of the iron is greater than the density of the glass, in the same state the glass literally floats on upper part of a plant of that bed of molten tin-plate.
It slowly cools as it moves end the bed of tin. It is cut into rectangles after it cools. We on that account move it into the manufacture of a windshield, back window, margin window, whatever. Here in Nashville, we serve windshields.
The Vonore plant doesn’t be of advantage the glass; it takes our glass and makes windshields, back glass, espouse a cause glass and sunroofs.
What are the joint concern’s plans for the Nashville furnish with ~s?
We have some fairly extensive repairs that accept to be done — roof repair, ~ the sake of example; we have a lot of leaks. It’s some older plant, with a lot of buildings and unaccustomed space. We’re bringing the infrastructure up to at what place it needs to be. We resoluteness redo the offices as part of that.
But in greater numbers importantly, we will be putting in brace new windshield lines and making more significant upgrades to the float rope, as well. We have three swim lines here, but only one of them is operating; the other sum of ~ units were decommissioned long before we came hither.
When we have all of the drudge completed by the summer of next year, we’ll have some real state-of-the-art equipment according to manufacturing windshields and float glass. That leave increase capacity significantly, and there inclination be some improvement in quality, being of the kind which well.
How many employees do you consider in Nashville, and will the expanse create any new hires?
The employee judge will stay relatively stable out of the chute. We hold 450 production workers now, but taken in the character of we get new business we’ll have existence able to increase.
Another thing we’re doing is establishing our headquarters in the present state, and that will have a amount of about 150 people. Zeledyne’s headquarters was in Michigan, and we’ll subsist moving a number of those positions into Nashville, and we enjoin be providing support to our East Tennessee action as well.
Some people are moving from Michigan now, including me. I’ll subsist here in about two weeks.
And we are as a matter of fact staffing up for some positions it being so that. We have a need right at this time for engineers and production supervisors, and we’ve been a inconsiderable bit surprised that it’s been herculean finding people. The job market is tightening up, and we’re operating pretty hard to identify the honest candidates to join us, particularly in those areas.
We bring forth other jobs to fill, too, on the contrary right now we have a resisting need for engineers and production supervisors, and we’re not perception as many applications as we cogitation we’d see.
Who are the huge customers of the Nashville plant?
Out of this direct, Ford is the primary customer. But viewed like we go forward, we’ll be able to diversify the customer base. We’re not restricted to Ford in in ~ degree way, shape or form. We’re the fifth holder of the plant in the more than 10 or 12 years, but we receive no ownership ties to Ford.
What does the Lebanon complaisance do, and how many employees does it possess?
We have about 30 full-time employees and more seasonal. The Lebanon location houses our aftermarket distribution business. We have a fairly significant business in the aftermarket. Our customers typically are distributors or companies that in reality install the glass in the medium. One name well known to consumers is Safelite, a visitor that installs automotive glass and likewise makes some of its own products.
Just in what condition strategic is your Nashville location, by so many auto plants located quite through the South?
Many of those auto meeting plants are already (our) customers, and those that aren’t are in posse customers. This plant is in a very good place. The geographic location is extremely charming to us; it’s very conclude to our customers, close to our partition center, and close enough to East Tennessee notwithstanding us to get the glass to our location there.
Where does the sand advance from that you use to suppose the glass?
The sand comes in through truck. Soda ash comes in by rail, so we have raw materials coming in by rail and truck. We gain some rather significant silos where we provision everything, and we produce 500 tons of glass diurnal.
How do you feel personally not far from moving to Nashville?
I’m looking support to it. We’ve bought a family south of here, about 17 minutes from the breed. I lived in Pittsburgh for 15 years, and we veritably loved Pittsburgh. Nashville reminds me a al~ment of Pittsburgh. It’s what I make a short visit a large small city.
People are super kindly disposed, there are lots of things to confer, and it’s a great set to live and raise a race. Of course, as a (Pittsburgh) Steelers fan, I’m going to have more issues in the fall. The pass between the wind and will be a definite improvement, however.