Guardian Forms Joint Venture to Serve Automotive Retail Glass Market; Partners Include Former PGW and GlasPro/Elite Execs
September 22, 2010

Guardian Industries announced today that it has formed a joint partnership with a company called LRST LLC to manage and grow its retail auto glass business. LRST LLC was formed by four equal partners—former Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) executives Jim Latch and Marc Talbert, along with former GlasPro/Elite Auto Glass founders Jerry Ray and Neil Smith, according to a statement from Guardian. The new joint venture will be named Guardian Auto Glass LLC.

Guardian will have the majority ownership in the new Guardian Auto joint venture company.

"We see the new joint venture enhancing Guardian's current operations as well as key in developing a nationwide presence," says Mike Morrison, president of Guardian's Automotive group. "Guardian is focusing on growing all its businesses and we anticipate greater and stronger opportunities in the automotive retail glass (ARG) segment as a result of this strategic decision."

With the formation of Guardian Auto, the new retail joint venture will be managed and operated by the LRST partners.

Latch was involved in the creation of LYNX Services and had responsibility for PPG's ARG distribution and services business. Talbert was president of PPG Auto Glass and also had responsibility for PGW's ARG distribution business.

Ray and Smith were two of the founders and owners of the 34-store GlasPro/Elite retail business that was purchased by Belron in 2005. They previously partnered in the formation of Western Windshields, a West Coast auto glass distribution business.

Latch will be president and managing partner of the new company with Ray, Smith and Talbert all holding titles of vice president and managing partners. Talbert left PGW in late 2009, and Latch was released from the company on April 1, 2009, during a round of several layoffs.

Guardian Auto has developed an entrepreneurial business model that utilizes local ownership and involvement under the new joint venture.

"The joint venture brings focus on growing the business with a local ownership model," says Latch. "Local ownership combined with a national presence will enhance our service to our customers."

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