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Discovery Newsletter: Looking Good

January 1, 2017

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After four years of owning a minority stake in Guardian Industries, Koch has announced plans to acquire all of that company. Guardian shareholders approved the acquisition (which requires regulatory review) last November, with closing expected this quarter. Privately owned Guardian employs 17,000 people in more than 25 countries and has manufacturing sites on five continents. (The exceptions are Australia and Antarctica.) Guardian is one of the world’s leading producers of high-performance coated glass products and high-value coatings on plastics. From the glass on the world’s tallest and most innovative buildings to the shining chrome-plated grill of America’s best-selling vehicle, Guardian makes products encountered by millions of people every day.


Ron Vaupel, president and CEO of Guardian (and the former leader of Koch’s business development group), spoke to Guardian employees about the acquisition in a webcast November 21. “Koch has many alternatives in deciding where to invest its capital,” Vaupel said. “It makes those decisions based on where it can secure the greatest long-term value. “So, Koch’s decision to acquire the remaining shares of Guardian speaks volumes about its confidence in our company and our people.” Vaupel pointed out that Guardian is already implementing Koch’s MarketBased Management® business philosophy and, like all Koch companies, places a strong emphasis on innovation. Guardian’s Science and Technology Center is adjacent to its float glass plant in Carleton, Michigan — about half an hour’s drive southwest of Detroit. “We’ve been conducting advanced R&D for more than 15 years,” Vaupel said. “On average, we launch more than 30 new products per year. That’s likely to increase as Guardian works even more closely with other Koch companies.”


The potential for idea-sharing between Guardian and other Koch companies is substantial and Vaupel says Guardian is “already talking with Molex about improving our chrome-plated pieces for automobiles and developing electronic functionality in glass.

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Guardian plants produce 25 miles of glass per day

“We’ve also called on Koch Supply & Trading to help ensure we have the best alternatives for natural gas supply around the world.” Koch’s recent acquisition of EFT Energy, which makes proprietary software for improving energy efficiency, has great potential for Guardian. “When we start a float plant, it operates continuously, 24/7, for up to two decades and temperatures rise to 2,900 degrees Fahrenheit. That takes a lot of energy.” Just as Koch companies can help Guardian, Guardian can help other Koch companies. “Our distribution company is a natural for helping Georgia-Pacific efficiently deliver the building products it makes,” Vaupel said. “We’re also working with Koch Facilities Solutions, which specifies custom glass for brighter, more light-filled office interiors. “Like every Koch company, we want to create long-term value for our customers, shareholders and society more efficiently and faster than our competitors.”