Carlex Is in “Growth Mode”

Carlex is adding new personnel to its Tennessee plants as part of a facility expansion, according to Don Michelotti, executive vice president. The company now serves almost all automakers who manufacture vehicles in the U.S. It also continues to expand its aftermarket offerings as well, he adds.

“Carlex is in a growth mode as evidenced by the recent acquisition of three former Guardian plants on November 1, 2014,” he says. “That integration is going very well. As part of our expansion, we have looked at our manufacturing footprint and identified some underinvested segments. This expansion will target that segment and strengthen our overall market position.”

As a part of the expansion, approximately 50 positions are slated to be added to the company’s Vonore, Tenn., glass plant, which produces windshields and vehicle body glass.

“We’ve essentially retained most of the team through the transactions,” he says. “There is no real effort to replace people (including Europe).”

In November, Central Glass Co. Ltd., parent company to Carlex, purchased three automotive glass manufacturing sites and the Guardian Automotive Products Inc. (GAPI) headquarters. The glass plants are located in Auburn, Ind.; Ligonier, Ind.; and Grevenmacher, Luxembourg.

At the time, Central Glass reported that the acquisitions would provide wider OEM and aftermarket production capabilities.

“It’s pretty obvious our parent company, Central Glass, has made a major commitment to automotive glass—both original equipment and aftermarket products. With the acquisition of these three plants, we’ve grown to a very competitive size,” says Michelotti.

The company now also has the advantage of a footprint in Europe, he adds.

“The European customers lead the way on new technologies and new product introductions. These introductions start with the luxury brands and as cost efficiency improves, the new products come to the U.S. and are offered in larger volumes (across more brands). We have our feet firmly in the European market now,” Michelotti notes.

The company went from serving a smaller group of OEMs, to a “more balanced mix,” he says.

“We serve Subaru, Kia, Hyundai, Nissan and Ford, as well as General Motors, Chrysler and Toyota. We have a nice customer mix,” he notes.

“We are very pleased with Central Glass’ commitment,” Michelotti says.

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