Guardian Industries names new CEO after selling minority stake
DETROIT -- Automotive glass supplier Guardian Industries Inc. will have a new CEO in Ron Vaupel, a vice president at Koch Industries Inc., which recently closed the purchase of a minority stake in Guardian.
Vaupel, a vice president of business development at Koch Industries since 2002, becomes CEO on Jan. 1 and is the first person to hold that title since William Davidson died in 2009. Guardian announced Oct. 4 it had agreed to sell a minority interest to KGCI LLC, a unit of Koch, and informed employees Dec. 19 that the transaction was complete.
Terms have not been disclosed, but Reuters reported Koch is obtaining a 44 percent stake in Guardian after the sale, based on regulatory approval filings submitted before the European Commission.
The deal makes Koch, a global manufacturing and trading conglomerate, the largest single shareholder in Guardian. Earnest Thompson, director of marketing and brand management at Guardian, would not elaborate on its other owners, however, except to tell Crain's via email that "existing shareholders continue to hold the majority" after the sale.
On Wednesday, Standard & Poor's released a statement that said it lowered Guardian's corporate credit rating from A to BBB+, with a stable outlook, citing additional leverage stemming from the transaction.
Guardian Industries employed about 18,000 people worldwide earlier this year and garnered about $5 billion of revenue in 2011, according to past Crain's estimates. The privately held company does not disclose its financial statements.
Four subsidiary company presidents -- Scott Thomsen of Guardian Glass Co., Steven Zeissler of Guardian Building Products Distribution Inc., Mike Morrison of Guardian Automotive Corp. and Kevin Baird of plated plastics maker SRG Global Inc. -- have been reporting directly to Guardian Industries' board of directors in recent years but will report to Vaupel starting in January.
"Guardian is an exciting place to be today -- and will be for years to come," Vaupel said in a recent statement to employees. "We have a great culture with an emphasis on long-term profitable growth and a commitment to and passion for innovation. I share your vision and commitment; that we are people who like to compete to win. That's my kind of team and a language that we speak all around the world."
Guardian also reported that Vaupel, a past president of Koch Hydrocarbon Co. LP during his time at Koch Industries, joins Guardian's board of directors alongside representatives of other "company investors" such as the Davidson family and management shareholders.