In January, auto supplier Bill Davidson announced that all 19,000 employees of his Guardian Industries Corp. had won employee-of-the-year honors.
``Guardian is only as good as our people,'' he said. ``Without hard-working, dedicated employees ... we could not experience the success that has come to be our hallmark.''
Now, with an NBA championship trophy courtesy of Davidson's Detroit Pistons - coming nine days after his Tampa Bay Lightning took the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup - Davidson's teamwork philosophy is getting a tad more attention.
``Guardian is privately owned, very low key, very much under the radar,'' said Gayle Joseph, spokeswoman for the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based company on June 17, just as Davidson and the Pistons were about to start their second championship celebration of the day. ``People really didn't know about us, and now the phone's been ringing all day.''
Guardian is best-known as a glass manufacturer, making laminated windshields as well as glass for residential and commercial buildings. Its automotive unit also includes injection molding of exterior vehicle body panels.
Davidson's second business, Palace Sports & Entertainment, owns basketball's Pistons, which won the NBA championship over the Los Angeles Lakers June 15, the Tampa Bay Lightning, which took the Stanley Cup on June 6, and the Detroit Shock, which won the WNBA championship in 2003.
``He can't get away from attention now that they've got both the NHL and NBA championships,'' said David Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
News coverage of the Pistons focused on the players' team approach to basketball, a style that also works in manufacturing.
``That's always been the philosophy in the plants,'' said Rob Vandal, director of process management for the automotive glass unit.
The 81-year-old Davidson stuck to the hard work concept himself, taking a red-eye flight back from Florida the night the Lightning took the NHL trophy to make it back to his desk the next day. He was also in the office the morning after the Pistons victory.
As the sports teams made their way through the playoffs, Guardian workers provided moral support with tailgate parties and rallies.
Davidson promised the Stanley Cup trophy will visit every Guardian plant in the coming year.
``It's been amazing to see this,'' Cole said. ``With [Davidson], it's always been a matter that what you see is what you get. He really doesn't get too far away from his core philosophy in any part of his business or life.''