From an early age, William Davidson had a strong interest in his family’s history and in sports. He grew up in family that was focused on business success as a means of helping others. His family’s philosophy stayed with him throughout his life.
Mr. Davidson attended Central High School in Detroit and then went to the University of Michigan and Wayne State University’s School of Law. He began a legal practice that quickly led him to acquire several troubled companies and fix them. This success caused his family to seek his help for Guardian Glass, a small, family-owned fabricator of automotive glass. He first focused Guardian on profitable business and then expanded its scope to new markets. This led to the creation of Guardian Industries, Corp., where he served as Chairman, President, and CEO for the remainder of his career. Under his leadership, Guardian Industries Corp. grew to become one of the largest and most innovative manufacturers of architectural and automotive glass in the world.
Mr. Davidson’s business acumen inspired Guardian’s rapid growth into a diversified manufacturing company with operations throughout the world. As the company grew, Mr. Davidson created an entrepreneurial culture that empowered employees and encouraged them to give both time and resources to improve the communities where Guardian had facilities.
In 1974, Mr. Davidson’s passion for sports led him to establish a group which would buy the Detroit Pistons Basketball Club. His dedication to approaching sports as a business helped the Pistons win National Basketball Association Championships in 1989, 1990, and 2004. In 1988, he founded Palace Sports and Entertainment, building the Palace of Auburn Hills, which fundamentally changed the way sports and music had been presented. He won further league championships in 1997 as owner of Detroit Vipers Hockey (IHL); 2004 as owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL); and 2003, 2006, and 2008 as owner of the Detroit Shock (WNBA).
Mr. Davidson maintained a lifelong involvement with the University of Michigan and its business school where he established the William Davidson Institute in 1992 for the purpose of helping develop market economies throughout the world. In 2001, Mr. Davidson received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Michigan. His extensive philanthropy impacted numerous key institutions in southeastern Michigan, the nation, and abroad. Today, the William Davidson Foundation is proud to carry on his philanthropic legacy.