Guardian Industries names longtime executives as new leadership

A newly elected board of directors composed of longtime executives will take the helm at Guardian Industries Corp. following the March 13 death of Bill Davidson, the Auburn Hills glass-maker’s chairman, CEO and owner.

The board will be led by Russell Ebeid, president of Guardian Glass Group, as chairman.Also elected were Duane Faulkner, president of Guardian Building Products Group, Robert Gorlin, vice president of Guardian Industries, Guardian Industries CFO Jeffrey Knight and Peter Walters, group vice president of Guardian Industries.

The board members will continue to be responsible for day-to-day operations of their respective business areas in addition to their new roles, where they will also be responsible for “setting overall direction and overseeing the ongoing operation of the company,” according to a company statement.

It was anticipated that some form of employee-ownership structure would emerge after Davidson’s death, but the company has not disclosed details.

In March 2007, Davidson told Crain’s he was planning for the succession of his estimated $5.7 billion global automotive and construction glass-making empire.

“The basic company will be family-owned, but the employees will control and own any important part of the company after I go,” Davidson said in the interview.

He offered few details, but said an employee stock-ownership plan was not in the works at Guardian.

Sources close to the situation confirmed the new board has some level of ownership, but the company is still closely held and majority-owned by the Davidson family.

The board is now in control of metro Detroit’s third-largest privately held company, behind only Chrysler L.L.C and Penske Corp. in 2007 revenue, according to the 2009 Crain’s Book of Lists.

Guardian has grown from a small windshield fabricator founded by Davidson family members in 1937 to now employ more than 19,000 people worldwide at locations in 21 countries in North America, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

Guardian makes float glass and fabricated glass and fiberglass products for the construction and automotive industries. Float glass is the process of pouring molten glass into a bed of molten tin. The glass floats to the top and solidifies as it cools.

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