Carlex Brings Stability to Nashville Glass Plant

Employees at the Nashville factory long known as “Ford Glass” are breathing easier now that new ownership is in place. For decades, the facility made windshields and windows exclusively for Ford. Today, the factory was dedicated under its new name: Carlex.

A wide ribbon of glass is cooled and cut as it moves along the float line at the Nashville Carlex plant.

A wide ribbon of glass is cooled and cut as it moves along the float line at the Nashville Carlex plant.

The new parent company is a Japanese firm called Central Glass, which has operated its Carlex auto glass plant near Knoxville for twenty years. United Autoworkers director Gary Casteel says that track record is reassuring to workers.

“This company has the legs to make it work. They’re supplying now Hyundai, Kia, they’re supplying Volkswagen, they’re supplying Ford, we’re certainly trying to help them get into General Motors. We’ve had a good relationship so far, so we think it’s going to be a good thing.”

Since the year 2000, the Nashville factory’s status has been in a state of flux. It was shuttled from one Ford subsidiary into another, then sold off to a start-up that won a contract with Nissan, but never quite gained stable footing. Jobs were lost again and again. In its heyday, 35-hundred people worked at the factory, which is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Today that number stands at 500.

Sand is melted at more than 2500 degrees in the Carlex furnace to form liquid glass. The company says the Nashville factory is unique for the fact that it takes the product from raw materials to finished auto part under one roof.

Sand is melted at more than 2500 degrees in the Carlex furnace to form liquid glass. The company says the Nashville factory is unique for the fact that it takes the product from raw materials to finished auto part under one roof.

Along with the factory, Carlex bought a distribution center in Lebanon which employs another 100 or so people.

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