to my Guide Lamp web site.
Like most people who have worked at Guide Lamp I have always had an interest in the history of our company and General Motors. I also have an interest in web design and decided to combine the two.
I was born in Muncie, Indiana in 1944 and later grew up on a farm near Middletown. In the 1960’s after graduating from high school it was just a given that you would try to go to work for one of the automotive plants in Madison, Henry, or Delaware County (if you didn’t go to college). All three of these counties have a rich history in the startup and development of the automotive industry. I started work at Guide Lamp in 1964 in the Turning Signal Department. It was during the Vietnam War and I (along with most men my age) was drafted 8 months later and spent next 3½ years in the Air Force. After being honorably discharged from the Air Force I returned to work at Guide Lamp in December 1968. In 1971 I was accepted into the Electrical Apprentice Program and began work as an electrician. Starting in 1980 I worked in the Automation Department for Chain Sandu as an Associate Engineer. In 1984 I returned to work as an electrician. In 1999 with the pending sale of Guide Lamp announced, I decided to retire. I had 2 children getting ready to attend Purdue, so one week after retiring from Guide Lamp I started work at the Chrysler Mack Avenue Engine Plant in Detroit. After 5½ years in Detroit I returned to my home near New Castle, Indiana and started working at the New Castle Metaldyne Chassis Plant (formally Chrysler), as an electrician. After 3 years, Metaldyne began shutting down and I was laid off. Six months later I went to work at the new Greensburg, Indiana Honda Assembly Plant. After 8 months of working in a white work uniform, I realize it was time to retire (the 52 mile one way trip didn’t make it much fun anyway).
Guides history starts when an employee of the Badger Brass Company, Hugh Monson, saw the disadvantages of the acetylene source of power and thought he could do better. Teaming up with William F. Persons and William Bunce, the three decided to try a new concept in vehicular lighting. Putting $100 apiece into a pool, they quit their jobs at Badger Brass and moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Their choice of location was made because the large electric firm, General Electric, was located in Cleveland as well as a large number (at least 32) automobile manufacturer, all trying to get into the business. They rented space on the fourth floor of the Graves Building (we have no pictures of that building) for their meager start. They began operations by repairing damaged acetylene lamps and advertised their business by nailing flyers on telephone poles around Cleveland. Business became quite brisk in a short time and they accumulated enough money to begin experimenting with electric headlamps. Although their product was remarkably similar in looks to the Badger products, they adapted the units to electrical lighting. They patented their idea and soon got the attention of the automobile world and the public who was enchanted by the electric lamps. The Glide Automobile Company was their first customer when disaster struck: the Graves building burned and they lost all their orders and new equipment. $900 insurance gave them a fresh start and they soon were back in business. They moved into an available factory at 11400 West Madison Ave (shown above), in Cleveland and started production. The three partners decided to tough it out and within a short time had paid off their losses and replaced lamps lost in the fire.