Guardian Llodio celebrates its 80-year history

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www.guardian.com
The Guardian Industries Corp. plant in Llodio, Spain, just south of Bilbao, recently marked 29,200 days – or 80 years – of operation, and company officials gathered all the site’s employees to celebrate the plant’s long and storied history.

Founded by a local Spanish family, the factory has been making sheet glass since 1935, and in the mid-1970s was the largest sheet-glass producer in Europe, according to Llodio Plant Manager Javier Garcia.In 1984 Guardian acquired a 48% stake in what was then known as the Villosa plant, and a year later purchased full control, making it the U.S.-based firm’s second European plant (after Bascharage, Luxembourg).Guardian converted production in Llodio to a float line, and has invested heavily in the operation since, including repairing and upgrading the furnace there twice – in 1996 and again in 2011.

Javier Garcia (left), plant manager of Llodio Flat Glass, and Enrique Martinez, plant manager of Llodio Automotive, show off the custom-made T-shirt marking their plant’s 80th anniversary, during the Oct. 29 celebration at the facility.

(Photo Guardian Industries Corp., GRDPR030)

Today, said Garcia, a 12-year company veteran who became plant manager in January 2014, Llodio is “a very young octogenarian.” The site employs about 500, making it Guardian’s biggest manufacturing site in Europe, in terms of personnel. It is home, in effect, to two plants – one making float glass and the other fabricating replacement windshields for automotive aftermarket, he explained.

Management and staff got together on Oct. 29 to mark the 80-year milestone.

“It was important for us to celebrate the plant’s long history,” Garcia said. “It has been through some tough times in recent years due to the severe economic crisis in Spain. This plant has been really down, and now – through the efforts of a lot of people – we’re starting to see it turn around and head in the right direction.”

After some very challenging years financially, Llodio this year “is looking forward to a significant improvement in its performance.” Guardian Industries President and CEO Ron Vaupel visited the plant in June, “in recognition of all the effort we are making,” said Garcia. A video recapping the plant’s history played for employees on display panels in the plant on the day of the anniversary celebration, and each employee was given a T-shirt featuring a specially made Guardian logo that incorporated “29,200 days.”

What is the Llodio team’s goal now? “To keep working hard as we are now. We want to continue to create value for our customers, for our shareholders and for society, and deliver a sustainable result. And then,” Garcia said, “maybe someone in my position here will be able to celebrate the plant’s 160-year anniversary!”

Llodio plant’s management team posed for this shot, commemorating the plant’s history of 29,200 days. Just for fun and to emphasize both the longevity and the youth of the staff, management paired the two longest-serving employees (boasting some 45 years of service each) with the two youngest staffers (in their mid-20s).

(Photo Guardian Industries Corp., GRDPR030)

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