DETROIT - Glass maker Guardian Industries Corp., in a major expansion of its automotive plastics business, has acquired a 70 percent stake in Automotive Moulding Co., a producer of metal and plastic exterior trim based in Warren, Mich. Guardian did not release the acquisition price, but Jack Sights, president of the company's Automotive Products Group, said the deal is worth more than $125 million.
With sales of $120 million in 1995, Automo-tive Moulding will be grouped with Guardian's Windsor Plastics Inc. subsidiary to form a plastic trim business with sales of about $200 million. Guardian acquired Windsor Plastics, which has plants in Evansville, Ind., and Grand Prairie, Texas, in 1988.
By combining its process capabilities in glass, metal and plastic, Guardian is positioning itself as a supplier of complete exterior trim packages. The company also has product expertise in areas where materials are combined, such as plastic-on-glass window encapsulation.
``We'd like to be able to do everything on the exterior of the vehicle except for the sheet metal,'' Sights said.
Norman Peslar, president of Automotive Moulding, said the Guardian deal now gives the company the resources to be ``a serious player'' in the industry for the long-term.
``If Guardian is doing the windshield, we ought to be doing the windshield moldings and cowls,'' he said.
However, the Guardian plastics group currently does not produce bumper fascias, a major product segment for exterior trim suppliers. Sights said the most likely way to add fascia production would be to acquire another molding company, something Guardian is pursuing.
Automotive Moulding has two plants in Georgia and three in Michigan. But to succeed as a trim supplier, the Guardian plastics group not only will have to increase its sales, but extend its geographical reach. Increasingly, automakers are demanding thatsuppliers provide parts globally.
Sights said the plastics group will make a fairly easy transition into an international company because Guardian is already, in its glassmaking operations, a global organization.
The company makes glass for the automotive and construction industries in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. It is building a total of four glass plants in the United States, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.
The company, based in Auburn Hills, Mich., also has a fiberglass insulation business.
Privately held Guardian, led by President and Chief Executive Officer William Davidson, last announced sales in 1990 when it passed the $1 billion mark. But now the Automotive Products Group, including the glass and expanded plastics products lines, alone expects to do more than $1 billion in sales ``within the next several years.''
For Automotive Moulding, the rapid consolidation in the ranks of automotive plastics suppliers, and increasing demands from automakers to expand globally, proved to be too much.
``We just got so we couldn't grow as quickly as was necessary,'' Peslar said. ``Unless you have a very special niche, you have to have size to compete in this industry.''
The company has been profitable and was virtually debt-free, he said.
If Guardian's plastics group can make itself into a supplier of complete exterior trim packages, the transformation would mirror what's happening in the interior trim and seating segment.
Last year, Lear Seating Corp. acquired Automotive Industries Inc., a major supplier of interior components, in a $626 million acquisition.
Peslar said he was surprised by Lear's acquisition of Automo-tive Industries, a company he admired as one of the best-managed in the industry. But it also demonstrated how even the largest and most successful auto-motive plastics companies were being grabbed up by bigger suppliers.
Peslar and brother Drew Peslar, who holds the title of vice chairman, will continue to operate the day-to-day affairs of Automotive Moulding.
Sights will become chairman and Frank Peslar, former chairman, will become chairman emeritus.