There's no glass ceiling for employees
by Jolene Polyack
by Frankie Leal
hen Marty Bergman graduated from Lindsay High
School twenty years ago, never in his wildest
dreams would he have guessed his future. Bergman
joined Guardian Industries in Kingsburg, CA shortly
after graduating from college with a B.S. degree
in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona.
Since then, he has worked in four countries and
at six different plants. He has worked in both
production and in engineering and is currently
the Engineer Manager for the Kingsburg facility
as well as the entire West Coast. He and his wife
adopted a seven year old child while Marty worked
in Thailand. The child learned English at his
next assignment in India. From India the family
moved to Saudi Arabia and then on to Michigan.
They eventually ended up back in California. According
to Bergman, “If anyone told me 20 years
ago of the opportunities that I would have, I
wouldn’t have believed them. I grew up in
Lindsay and went to Lindsay High – someone
from that background working all over the world?
No one would have believed it.”
Curwick, a Guardian accountant, decided to try
his hand in the production area as a Shift Manager.
He then tried sales for two years. Later, he tried
customer service, then scheduling production and
finally decided to go back into the Guardian accounting
department. He is now the head Controller for
the West Coast.
Tullman, a school teacher and coach, joined the
Guardian team loading trucks and moved up from
there. He was asked to go to Detroit and eventually
he took over the entire Midwest. But he missed
California and later transferred back. He is now
the General Manager of the Western United States.
are countless Guardian employee stories just like
Marty’s, Steve’s and Don’s.
Employees can start at the bottom of the Guardian
career ladder and climb their way up to be world
travelers and upper management. Dreams can come
to Tullman, “Anyone who comes in, works
hard and is willing to work shifts will receive
a good buck and good benefits. People can go from
packing glass to loading glass on up to a plant
manager, a general manager or even a vice president.
We pride ourselves on our career advancement opportunities.
It shows employees that a person with a GED (General
Educational Development) credential can really
rise up to the very top of our company. Some employees
want to work in the glass plant for 20 years and
that’s OK too. Where else can you start
in Kingsburg and wind up anywhere in the world?
It provides opportunities way above what a single
plant might provide.”
continues, “Employees will receive a promotion
if they do the thing they’re currently doing
well. Here’s a good example: A production
employee wants to be a supervisor. We find out
he’s got good maintenance skills; we place
him in a maintenance training program and provide
him with some schooling that we pay for. We give
him a test and offer on-the-job training. He does
well so he is promoted to a Top Grade Maintenance
Mechanic that can do technical and mechanic repairs.
Maybe he now wants to be considered for a supervisory
position. We make him back-up supervisor to see
how he does. If he’s successful, we interview
him and offer a supervisory position. He can then
go from Supervisor to Maintenance Manager and
then to running a shift or running a plant. It’s
happened many times. The President of the company
started out as a First Level Engineer. In fact,
his first Plant Manager assignment was here at
the Kingsburg facility.”
But travel and career advancement opportunities
are not the only elements of the company’s
personality. Another is their genuine concern
for employee safety. Employees must undergo training
sessions because it’s a high priority. According
to Bergman, “We have hot molten, moving
glass which can easily burn and cut if you’re
not careful, but Guardian takes every single precaution
to avoid that. We can t prevent everything, but
we try. Safety is absolutely first. We live that,
so much so that in 8 years and 5 million hours
of production time we have not had even one lost-time
injury. We take pride that we work for a company
that cares about our people and how we treat them.
Providing safety, providing good jobs, good benefits
and good opportunity, we provide a pretty good
package with all of that.”
Guardian Industries began as the Guardian Glass
Company in 1932. They started by making windshields
for the automotive industry.
1970, the privately held company expanded into
the float glass industry, a product achieved by
floating molten glass on a bath of liquid tin.
Since then, they’ve added 23 new float lines
around the world and have built or acquired more
than 21 glass fabrication plants.
Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, $7 billion
Guardian Industries now has over 22,000 employees
worldwide in 25 countries, with 100 plants on
5 continents. The company has three divisions;
glass, building products and automotive.
Kingsburg facility employs 300 people. This facility
alone has been a Guardian career starting point
for one president, two vice presidents, five international
plant managers (in Asia & Africa) and four
U.S. plant and regional managers. The Kingsburg
facility was the company’s second float
plant, which started in 1978. They are now celebrating
their 30th year in Kingsburg and are proud of
the fact they have never had a layoff.
The Kingsburg facility recently underwent a big
repair. During these scheduled events employees
are transferred to the facility receiving the
repair from all over the world to help. In the
Kingsburg repair project employees were flown
in from at least ten countries in Europe, Asia,
and South America as well as employees from sister
United States plants.
Kingsburg Guardian plant can also boast that they
are the only nanotechnology facility in the Central
Valley. Nanotechnology allows for thin film coatings,
which are 1/1000 thickness of a human hair to
be placed on glass to change its properties. It’s
used in energy efficient windows. Stores such
as Lowes carry this type of glass. Even though
the glass has 12 layers, it still has high transmission,
with no color change yet possesses good insulation
properties. This glass is packaged and shipped
all over the world.
Industries made the glass for the World Trade
Center. They recently got the contract for the
new Freedom Tower in New York, which is 1776 feet
tall. The glass will be produced in Michigan,
then nanotechnology coated in Kingsburg, then
shipped to New York. According to Tullman, “Our
people are proud to be honored to do the Freedom
Tower. It will consist of 10,000 to 12,000 tons
of glass. We’ll be making the glass at the
end of this year.” Guardian also has a facility
in Reedley with 50 to 60 employees. The Reedley
facility takes glass from Kingsburg and makes
it into mirrors or laminated safety glass (2 sheets
of glass w/ film in middle). Reedley’s mirrors
are usually gray on the back and are considered
high quality because the materials they use don’t
allow the mirror to degrade. Other companies will
purchase the Reedley glass and cut it into smaller
pieces, and embellish it with edging, holes, etc.
travel, career opportunities, corporate responsibility,
local economic enhancements, quality and innovation
are all assets that can be included when describing
Guardian Industries. With all of the negative
stories in the media regarding large, multi-national
corporations, it is refreshing to know there is
still plenty of good out there. It’s even
better to know it’s in our backyard.