Russell J. Ebeid is a member of the Board of Directors of Guardian Industries Corp., Chairman of the Board of Guardian Europe S.A., Director of Guardian Japan, and President of the Glass Group. As such, he is responsible for the companies' worldwide glass sales, marketing and manufacturing activities, which are performed by nearly 18,000 people employed in 21 countries on five continents.
In recognition of Guardian's contribution to the economies of their countries, Ebeid has been honored with private audiences with the King and Queen of Spain, King of Belgium, King and prince of Luxembourg, President of Venezuela and the last Communist Prime Minister of Hungary. He has also been awarded the Knight of Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
The Detroit Regional Chamber named Ebeid 2010 World Trader of the Year for his significant contributions to the promotion of international trade and exceptional involvement in promoting Michigan as a great place to do business. Read on for an interview with him about world trade.
Detroiter: What makes Michigan a great place for international companies In do business?
Russ Ebeid: Michigan, particularly this part of the stale, grew thanks to the influx of people from elsewhere to work in the auto industry. Lock at the variety of ethnicities, people from all over the world, who have built sizeable companies here. My parents, for example, came here from Lebanon with the proverbial clothes on their back and without knowledge of the language. I'm sure many local folks can say that about their parents or grandparents. Of course, Michigan also shares borders with another country, so that helps. We have access to good transportation, be it rail, water or air. And many of our companies have long conducted international commerce, so there's a deep understanding of what it takes.
What opportunities do you see for Michigan to diversify and grow its economy?
We need to truly understand what businesses we are in and how to innovate. You've heard the old saying about who lost out when horses and buggies evolved into cars; those who survived understood they were in the transportation business. We need to learn that lesson again and change ourselves to meet emerging markets. We started out in the automotive glass business, making replacement windshields. Today, we see ourselves in the energy conservation business. We make glass with a low-E coating that is the core of energy efficient...