The History of Guide Lamp
   When the automobile first began to go out at night, it was provided with oil or gas lamps. Of the latter type was an acetylene gas lamp made at Kenosha, Wisconsin, by the Badger Brass Company. Three of the Badger employees, Messrs. Hugh J. Monson, William F. Persons (1868-1926), and William Bunce, decided to strike out for themselves. They chose Cleveland, Ohio, as the place for their business, and in 1906, with $100 apiece, formed the Guide Motor Lamp Company. Cleveland was then the center of the automobile accessory trade and the location of Royal, Winton, and Stearns car manufacturing, but was without a lamp-making concern.
   The partners did a good business in the repair of lamps and radiators. In 1910 they were employing twenty-five persons, and in this year made their first electric lamps for automobiles. Mr. T. A. Willard, the battery man, by the development of his product, furthered the new activity of the firm. A patent was taken out on a reflector arrangement fitted onto the old lamps. The firm made its screw-type sockets by hand.
   In 1911 the partners secured orders from the Rauch & Lang and Baker companies, and the next year from Reo and from the Detroit Electric for electric side lamps, which were also made by hand.
   Guide Motor Lamp Company was incorporated in 1913 with capital of $40,000.  Mr. Monson was its president until 1928.  A plant was built on West Madison Street, Cleveland. Guide Motor Lamp made its first automobile contract in 1913, to furnish the Glide Automobile Company with headlights complete, and batteries, switches, and wiring, to the amount of 500 sets.
   Tungsten filament dates from 1914. Mr. Persons introduced the bulb, frosted in the lower part, in 1916. In 1917 Guide took over Emerson Clark's patent, obtained four years earlier on the parabolic reflector of two separate foci. Mr. C. A. Michel, vice-president in charge of engineering of the present Guide organization, developed its Guide Ray reflector. In 1922 the company brought out a bifocal reflector in which the vertical angle of light is controlled in the reflector.
   The two-filament bulb came out in 1924, and Guide then developed the Tilt Ray head lamp with which Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Reo were equipped.
   General Motors Corporation bought out the company in 1928 and formed the Guide Lamp Corporation. Mr. F. S. Kimmerling became president and general manager, Mr. Monson, vice-president in charge of sales. At the end of 1929, Guide Lamp Corporation was located in Anderson, Indiana. To its own lamp operations were added those of Delco-Remy Corporation. Mr. F. H. Prescott is now president and general manager.
The information above is from The Turning Wheel; By Arthur Pound; 1884-1966
The story of General Motors through twenty-five years, 1908-1933
Internet Archive
Digitizing sponsor: msn
Book contributor: Prelinger Library
From Salaried Personnel Program
Presented by E. Oakley, 1952

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.
1913        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.

1920-21   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.

1922        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.

1924        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
                      passing purposes.
               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.

1928        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.

1930        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.

1942        (July)
               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. For
                         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 General
                      (d)  As mentioned previously Mr. Michel developed the Guide Ray Headlamp  — 1922; Tilt Ray Headlamp  — 1924;
                            and Multibeam Headlamp — 1928.
                      (e) Mr. Michel has had a guiding hand in all major lamp developments at Guide Lamp. Guide Lamp has seen its greatest period of
                            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 design
                            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 developed
                            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, Cleveland, 1916.
                      (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 in 1927.
                      (h)  Guide Lamp, 1932, research engineer.
                      (i) Present position  — Chief Engineer since 1937.

Employment Figures (Average)
Year       Total Number
of Employees
1906       3
1908       10
1913       25
1920       200
1927       496
  Anderson Cleveland  
  Hourly Salary Total  
1929 712 101 596 1309
1930 745 112 233 1090
1935 1463 134 0 1597
1936 1861 159 354 2374
1940 2469 294 1215 3978
1942 2512 388 B-L-C 2900
1944 4481 552   5033
1946 3120 525   3645
1947 4336 554   4890
1951 3623 598   4231


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 approximately.
               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 Receiving Depts.
               (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 barrels.)
               (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.