Locate Finger Lakes Business Journal

Guardian Glass outfits iconic buildings in the Finger Lakes and around the world


Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

What does the world’s tallest skyscraper—the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates—have in common with the University of Rochester Medical Center’s James P. Wilmot Cancer Center and Rochester Institute of Technology’s MAGIC Center?

These buildings all use glass made by Guardian Glass in Geneva, New York, and other plant locations globally. Their striking glass facades are part of what make these buildings so iconic.

Guardian Glass is one of the world’s largest glass manufacturers. It produces high-performance glass products for commercial, residential, transportation and technical applications, including use in buildings, homes, cars and electronics.

The Geneva float glass plant primarily serves residential and commercial window companies in the Northeastern United States and Canada.

An international company investing in the Finger Lakes

Guardian Glass is part of Guardian Industries, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Guardian Industries began as the Guardian Glass Company in 1932, making windshields for the Detroit automotive industry.


University of Rochester Medical Center’s James P. Wilmot Cancer Center

Today, Guardian Glass is a global manufacturing company with 25 float glass plants around the world, and customers in more than 60 countries.

The Geneva float glass plant opened in 1998 and celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. It employs about 300 workers, including manufacturing operators, technicians, mechanics, process and project engineers, and support staff.

“Our people are the company’s number one asset,” said Nate Filiatrault, Geneva plant manager. “We strive to create a safe environment and one that provides opportunities for growth in Geneva and across the company.”

Last year, Guardian Glass Geneva completed an $80 million repair of its float line and installed an advanced emission controls system, increasing production capacity and improving energy efficiency.

“This investment has the plant primed for continued success and growth for decades to come, and will help create value for our customers, employees and the Finger Lakes community,” said Filiatrault.

Advancing the art and science of glass making

Glass making is a highly technical operation, combining physics, chemistry and manufacturing. The Geneva plant uses advanced technology—from massive high-tech machinery to robotic arms—to produce float glass, which is the company’s flagship product.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s MAGIC Center

Rochester Institute of Technology’s MAGIC Center

Float glass is made by heating silica sand and other raw materials to a liquid state and floating it on a bath of molten tin to produce a ribbon of glass.

The plant’s three production lines run continuously, 24 hours a day, producing several hundred tons of glass per day, in sizes up to 12 by 18 feet.

Glass has become a critical component of the design and construction process. It is more often being integrated to improve the aesthetics of a building or home, as well as the comfort and energy performance.

Glass can be used to increase a structure’s natural light, reduce heating and cooling requirements, and enhance safety and sound control.

Filiatrault said in addition to furthering the science and process of float glass manufacturing, Guardian Glass is committed to being a preferred partner to its customers.

“We provide resources from the point the glass comes off the line to its installation,” he said.

Guardian developed proprietary software, called Glass Analytics, to support customers at each step of the process, from visualizing the building facade, to testing energy performance and identifying sustainability credits.

The company’s product innovations address the latest in design trends, and both the essential and more interesting needs of an ever-evolving industry.

For example, as more buildings are outfitted in glass, bird collisions have become more common. One study estimates that up to one billion birds may be killed in building collisions each year, mistaking large expanses of glass for sky. It’s a major issue that government agencies, architects, conservationists and others are working to address.

Last year, Guardian introduced new bird-friendly glass coatings to mitigate bird strikes. Its Guardian Birds1st™ UV coated glass breaks up the reflectivity of the glass and makes it more visible to birds, but very subtle to the human eye.


The 850,000-square-foot Guardian Glass facility in Geneva, New York’s Industrial Park

Growing for 20-plus years in the Finger Lakes

Guardian Glass is located in an 850,000-square-foot facility in Geneva Industrial Park, accessible to the New York State Thruway and Finger Lakes Railway.

It is one of the city’s major manufacturers, contributing to Geneva’s rich industrial heritage amid its increasingly diverse economy.

Guardian said it selected Geneva for a number of reasons, including the region’s people, infrastructure and quality of life.

Its success here is evidence that large, global companies are well served by the resources and talent available in the Finger Lakes.

“We are proud to be a major employer and strong member of this community, and look forward to the next 20 years in Geneva and beyond,” said Filiatrault.

Watch this video to see how float glass is made.

Guardian Glass

50 Forge Avenue
Geneva, NY 14456

Krista Gleason is a contributor to the Locate Finger Lakes Business Journal. She is a freelance writer and owner of Gleason Writes in the beautiful Finger Lakes.

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