Guardian Stretches Out Overseas

Forty percent of Auburn Hillsbased Guardian Industries' revenue now comes from overseas, company executives have confirmed.

The business, owned by Bloomfield Hills billionaire William Davidson, is the bedrock of his empire, and has kept financially healthy by diversifying.

Ralph Gerson, Guardian executive vice president, told The Oakland Press this week the company is expanding overseas and 40 percent of its revenue and 50 percent of its assets are now in overseas markets.

Guardian is closely held and doesn't disclose financial information but its annual revenue is estimated to be over $5 billion. Guardian is the foundation of the family fortune of Davidson, who also owns the Detroit Pistons. Its headquarters is down the street from The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Gerson said Guardian, founded in Detroit in 1932, first ventured abroad in 1981 by opening a plant in Luxembourg. It now has more than 15 percent of the European market for flat glass used in construction, he said as he opened a discussion of the benefits of trade and investment at a meeting of the Detroit Economic Club in Birmingham earlier this week.

Guardian's growth has benefi t- ed from the overseas expansion, he said. James Hamilton, director of the Center of Economic Relations at Johns Hopkins University, said at the same meeting that the economic relationship between the United States and Europe is the largest and most important in the world. "There's more European investment in the state of Michigan than all of U.S. investment in China and Japan put together," Hamilton said.

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