Guardian Glass and Oil City Iron Works are investing in the future with new infrastructure and rebuilds that will keep those industries productive for years to come.

Guardian will start work on building a new furnace later this year, a project that will allow the plant to increase production and remain viable for at least 15 more years.

Oil City Iron Works is putting in a new road to Business 45 that will allow that company to expand its work and get supplies and products in and out more efficiently. The company has been adding onto its lines for a year now.

Twenty percent of workers in Navarro County, or 3,563 people, are employed in manufacturing, according to figures from the Texas Workforce Commission. Nearly 20 percent of those jobs, or 640, are at Guardian and Oil City.

Guardian fires up

Guardian Industries doesn’t anticipate adding staff, but it is making improvements to extend the life of the glass plant at 3801 U.S. 287 South.

“We’re going to tear out and rebuild our furnace,” explained Howard Seely, comptroller at Guardian Industries in Corsicana. Guardian has requested tax abatements on $19 million of the improvements, but the company anticipates eventually spending $43 million on the entire project.

“Without this rebuild, 209 jobs would be gone,” Seely said.

Guardian, which manufactures flat glass, will be replacing its 13-year-old furnace, tearing out all the brickwork and rebuilding all five stories at the heart of its plant. Glass furnaces normally have a lifespan of 12-15 years.

“We’ll be doing the same thing we do today, but doing it more efficiently and for a much longer span of time,” Seely said.

The construction project will begin Dec. 1. Employees who normally work on the line will be helping with the installation project while the furnace is out of commission.

“Nobody goes home, everybody works longer, harder, more, during that time,” Seely said.

Guardian Glass is used in windows, both commercial and residential, as well as any other flat glass application, from small picture frames to giant museum walls and mirrors.

For the employees at the plant who have the responsibility of holding back time with repairs, the tear-down can’t come too soon.

“We’re looking forward to a new furnace,” said Roger Bryant, with technical services at Guardian.

Currently, Guardian’s plant runs 24-hours a day, seven days a week and makes some 590 tons of glass a day. After the rebuild, the plant will be capable of 624 tons a day, said Dave Garrett, raw glass manager. To put that into perspective, an 18-wheeler can carry 22 tons of glass.

Guardian opened its Corsicana plant in 1980, and has rebuilt the furnace once before, in 1993. The Corsicana plant employs 380 people. Its economic impact on Navarro County, both in employment and contracts with other companies, is about $130 million a year.

“Guardian’s a major player. It’s one of our leading employers,” said Lee McCleary, director of economic development for Navarro County and the City of Corsicana.

“Guardian has plants all over the world and they’ve chosen to expand here,” McCleary pointed out. “They give a high tech presence to our community.”

Pumping iron at Oil City

Oil City Iron Works in Corsicana has been adding to its line for about a year, and the work will continue once the plant has a clear outlet to major arteries, said Eric Ryan Meyers, with Oil City.

“Over this past year, we’ve seen pretty substantial increases in business, both in manpower and facility capacity,” Meyers said.

The plant, located at 909 S. 12th St., has added 50 to 55 new employees in the past year, and forecasts adding more if the economy stays as strong as it has been, he said.

Oil City Iron Works, which has been in Corsicana for more than 100 years, makes valves and other iron equipment for the logging, construction, mining and oil industries. The company employs 264 people.

In 2005, the company qualified for a $750,000 grant from the state with which to build a new road from its plant on S. 12th St. to Business 45.

“The city’s still finalizing the engineering,” Meyers said. “But it should start soon.”

The grant will pay for the road work, as well as water and sewer lines in the project, according officials with the Texas Capital Fund, which administers the grant program.

“It’s an example of good business and great partnerships at work for rural Texas,” said Susan Combs, commissioner of agriculture for the state of Texas.

Having the new road will improve life at the company, Meyers said.

“When you’ve got a facility that’s been here as long as we have, infrastructure means a lot, Meyers said. “It really helps.”

Oil City Iron Works has been in Corsicana since 1866, and is almost as old as the city, McCleary said.

“They’re a stellar member of the community, and a huge contributor to our community in a lot of ways.”


Janet Jacobs may be contacted via e-mail at

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