From Salaried Personnel Program
Presented by E. Oakley, 1952
GUIDE LAMP HISTORY
Chronological Outline, 1906 – 1952
1906 1. Founded by H. J. Monson with two partners,
William F. Persons and William Bunce.
2. (a) Plant located in
Cleveland, Ohio, the center of the Automotive accessory trade but without a lamp maker.
(b) First plant in Graves Building.
(c) Did repair work on carriage and acetylene auto lamps.
1908 1. First electric headlamp was produced and marketed.
2. Successful introduction of the electric lamp was due primarily to these men who worked closely together although they were interested
in different business.
(a) H. J. Monson - Lighting business
(b) T. A. Willard - Battery & Electric energy
(c) Williams - Ignition (KW Ignition Co.,)
3. Quantity orders cane pouring in from several concerns, two of
which were Rauch & Lang Electric Carriage Co. and Baker Electric
4. Business grew steadily making it necessary to expand the
Manufacturing facilities to accommodate the additional business.
1. The business was incorporated as Guide Motor Lamp Manufacturing
Co. (18 employees).
2. A decision was made to manufacture lamps on a large scale.
3. The company was moved from the old small quarters into a two-story building on West Madison Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.
4. Guide's first gasoline auto contract called for 500 sets of
Complete headlamps — ordered by Glide Motor Comapany (manufacturer of
Glide car). Other customers were Reo, Chandler, Peerless and Haynes motor cars.
1. More manufacturing space was required so a modern factory
building was erected on 110th St., Cleveland, Ohio.
2. In the new set-up a modern engineering department was set up to study lighting (9'1 requirements under driving conditions, as well as
design lamps that were pleasing in appearance.
1. Mr. C. A. Michel, who was then in charge as Chief Engineer,
developed the Ray Headlamp, the first completely engineered headlamp
to be placed on the market.
2. Mr. H. C. Mead, who joined the Guide Lamp Mfg. Co. in 1919 as a
draftsman, played an important part later from the standpoint of
design and appearance.
1. Two years later (1924), Guide Ray Headlamps were well established
as standard equipment.
2. Although the Guide Ray Headlamp was the finest headlamp on the
market, Mr. Michel continued to experiment and develop a better
headlamp. In 1924 the Tilt Ray Headlamp was introduced which was far superior to the Guide Ray Headlamp or any other lamp on the
3. During this time a young engineer at General Electric Company
developed a two-filament bulb. His name was R. N. Falge, present
Guide Chief Engineer. With the new bulb it was possible to produce a lamp having both an upper beam for driving and a lower bean for
4. Complications arose because the reflector in use would not work
satisfactorily. This did not stop Mr. Michel who went to work
developing a new reflector which didn't lick the problem until a lens was designed in conjunction with the new reflector.
The new reflector was bi-focal in design.
5. Demand was so great for Tilt Ray Headlamp that Guide was swamped
with orders. In order to meet the demand, Guide licensed all of
its competitors under Guide patents with the stipulation that all Tilt Ray reflectors would be produced by Guide and the accuracy of all
Tilt Ray lenses would be controlled by Guide engineers.
6. The Tilt Ray Headlamp continued as standard equipment for a
number of years thereafter on many makes of cars.
1. Early in this year Guide maintained its leadership by bringing
out the Multibeam Headlamp. It placed three beams under the control of
the driver. Used by the following cars: Buick, Cadillac, LaSalle, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Packard, Pierce Arrow and Diamond T.
2. General rotors became highly interested in head lighting
problems. This interest resulted in a new lighting activity in the corporation's
Research Laboratories, Detroit, Mich. Mr. R. N. Falge was placed in charge of this activity.
3. At this time Delco-Remy was also making small lamps for Chevrolet
Motor Co. This type of manufacturing was transferred to Muncie,
4. Guide Lamp was purchased by GM Corp. in August of 1928 and was
made part of Delco-Remy Division.
5. On Jan. 1, 1929, Guide Lamp became a separate division with
plants located in Cleveland and Anderson.
6. Fred S. Kimmerling became the first President and General
Manager. Retired in 1933.
7. Mr. Burke because of his experience in automotive lighting
problems was named factory manager.
8. Mr. Monson (retired) was the last president prior to the merger
with General Motors.
1. A new factory building (#10) was built to increase the
manufacturing facilities here and to accommodate the increased facilities
required due to the closing of the Cleveland plant.
2. 1932 — Engineering and development facilities were expanded. The
Research Laboratories Lighting Section activities were
transferred to Anderson.
3. 1933 — Mr. Kimmerling was succeeded by Mr. F. H. Prescott,
formerly chief engineer at Delco-Remy.
4. 1934 — Mr. Burke succeeded Mr. Prescott as General Manager.
Seven years later (1941), Mr. Burke was promoted to GM
Central Office and Mr. Michel, who had been factory manager since 1936, was advanced to General Manager of Guide Lamp.
1936 Guide continued to grow and expand. In January 1936 the Brown-Lipe-Chapin Co., Syracuse, N. Y. was named a plant of Guide Lamp.
Originally established in 1895 to make a two-speed bicycle gear, the company had been connected with General Motors since 1910.
The Syracuse plant turned out lamps, bumper guards and hub caps for the eastern section of the United States.
1940 Another outstanding development by Guide was "Sealed Beam" headlamp. It was the result of extensive study and experimenting.
It has been adopted as standard equipment by practically all car manufacturers.
Brown-Lipe-Chapin plant was made a separate division. They immediately converted to war work to manufacture machine guns for the
armed forces. Guide Lamp was then at its all-time peak. The division was the world's outstanding; producer of automotive lamps and
was also the manufacturer of many metal stampings and die castings for GM cars and others.
1942 WAR WORK
Guide Lamp "went to war" to produce:
1) Complete line of lamps for military vehicles.
(8,500,000 articles -- headlamps, tail lamps, dome lamps, blackout lamps and signal lamps)
2) 3,400,000 stimsonite reflector units.
3) 22,000 P39 Airacobra spinner noses.
4) 1,000,000 water jacket sleeves for Allison aircraft engines.
5) 36,750,000 cartridge cases. (37mm, 90mm, 105mm -- both brass and steel)
6) 1,600,000 Browning machine gun barrels. (3 different kinds)
7) 650,000 complete 113 submachine guns. Guide was the sole
producer. The weapon was known as the "Buck Rogers" gun.
Guide's war efforts it received the Army-Navy "E" and four stars which were added later.
1945 1. Guide reverted to commercial lamp production.
2. All hub cap and bumper guard activity formerly handled by Guide
was transferred to Brown-Lipe-Chapin Division in Syracuse, N. Y.
3. Other products that have influenced Guide Lamp development:
1) Standard and glare-proof rear view mirrors.
2) Outside rear view mirrors.
3) Traffic light viewers.
4) Spot lamps, back-up lamps, fog lamps, multi-purpose lamps,
marker lamps and plastic reflex reflectors.
1951 Recent Guide Expansion
1) New Administration Building.
2) Modern plant cafeteria.
People who played an important part in Guide Lamp's growth.
Mr. H. J. Monson
Mr. C. A. Michel
Mr. H. C. Mead
Mr. R. N. Falge
H. J. Monson
(a) Born in Ozark Mountains (Arkansas).
(b) Hopped bells, Old Southern Hotel, Columbus, Ohio.
(c) Worked for J. W. Brown Lamp Company.
(d) Worked for Carriage Lamp Manufacturers at Columbus, Ohio, Richmond, Indiana and eventually at Badger Brass Co., Kenosha,
Wis., where he met two ambitious young men, Wm. F. Persons and Wm. Bunce.
C. A. Michel
(a) Began as clerk in cost department at the conclusion of his junior year in college.
(b) A year later he received his B.S. degree in electrical
engineering and continued his employment at Guide.
(c) Served as engineer, later as production manager and chief
engineer. He became Factory Manager, then was appointed
(d) As mentioned previously Mr. Michel developed the Guide Ray
Headlamp — 1922; Tilt Ray Headlamp — 1924;
Headlamp — 1928.
(e) Mr. Michel has had a guiding hand in all major lamp
developments at Guide Lamp. Guide Lamp has seen its greatest
growth and expansion under his leadership.
H. C. Mead
(a) Attended Western Reserve University.
(b) Enlisted in the Marines 1917, mustered out 1919.
(c) Employed by Guide Lamp in November 1919 as its first
draftsman, his boss being Mr. Michel.
(d) Participated in the development of Guide Ray, Tilt Ray and
Multibeam and sealed beam head lamps, especially from the
and appearance standpoint.
(e) Had charge of all the engineering phases of the M-3 gun from
the development stage through the production stages. He
many improvements which were subsequently adopted
by the ordnance department.
(f) Present position — Ass't Chief Engingineer.
R. N. Falge
(a) Born in Reedsville, Wis.
(b) Graduate of University of Wisconsin, 1916. (B.S.E.E.)
(c) National Lamp Works of General Electric at Nela Park,
(d) Ensign in naval aviation, 1917-18.
(e) Lighting engineer, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, 1919-20.
(f) Commercial engineer, G. E., 1920-27.
(g) Organized the Lighting Division at GM Research Laboratories
(h) Guide Lamp, 1932, research engineer.
(i) Present position — Chief Engineer since 1937.
|Employment Figures (Average)
1906 Originally located in Cleveland, Ohio (part of 5th floor of Graves Bldg.)
1913 Erected a two-story building on west side in Cleveland.
1923 GM purchased the old Lrvac building, originally built by
Jenny Electric. (Identified as #1, #2 and #3 — built in 1908
42,000 sq. ft. Addition — Bldg. #4)
1928 New Building was erected between the two old buildings.
(Identified as Bldg. #9)
1930 New building was erected to accommodate increased business and
consolidation of Cleveland and Anderson plant.
(Identified as Bldg. #10.)
1931 New office building completed. (Identified as Bldg. #ll.)
1932 Power Plant was remodeled. Additional boilers installed.
(Identified as Bldg. #12, second story used as toolroom.)
1934 Small building erected to take care of the expansion of
Process, Engineering, Plant Engineering Depts. Later Plant
Layout was located
here. (Identified as Bldg. #13.)
1936 New building erected to provide additional manufacturing
space, headlamp assembly, headlamp painting and Shipping and
(Identified as Bldg. #11)
(Bldg. #15 originally was oil shed.)
1937 Boiler Room was remodeled and expanded.
(Identified as Bldg. #16.) Shear Room — Bldg. #7
General Stores — Bldg. #17
New toolroom and maintenance department building was erected. First die casting was done in this building.
(Identified as Bldg. #18.)
1938 Service Garage and police barracks were erected.
(Identified as Bldg. #19.)
1939 Building #17 expanded.
1940 A new building was erected to provide additional manufacturing
space for small lamps. (Identified as Bldg. #20.)
1941 Another new building was erected to provide more space for
small lamp processing. (Identified as Bldg. #21)
1943 New substation built -- Bldg. #22. Building #24
(Salem Room - annealing furnaces.)
1945 New building was erected, now used for shipping, cafeteria, Engineering Dept., Model Shop. Built to chrome plate gun
(Identified as Bldg. #23.) Building #21 expanded.
1950 Building #20 expanded.
Building #22 expanded (sub station). New Administration Building has begun, Completed 1951.
NOTE Original buildings covered approximately 42,000 sq. ft.
Today, Guide Lamp buildings cover approximately 750,000 sq. ft.