As the oldest insulation contractor in North America, Guildfords takes great pride in its history. In May 1906, Robert Adams (R.A.) Guildford settled in Halifax and set up shop as a ship’s chandler, specializing in supplies for the still new steam-driven trans-Atlantic freighters.
The new mode of transport demanded new products. Guildford saw opportunity in providing insulation for the heat-sensitive steam engines and the many valves and moving parts required to keep the new vessels crossing the Atlantic. That focus on insulation is the common thread that weaves together the various Guildford operations stretching from 1906 to the present day.
In the 1950’s, already a notable 50-year old veteran of Atlantic Canada’s business community, Guildfords began to expand, taking full advantage of the post-war building boom. Substantial manufacturing divisions emerged and Guildfords became a Canadian leader in insulation products for “the basement furnace to the largest industrial job,” as their 50th anniversary brochure promised.
Guildford’s crews combed Nova Scotia’s beaches for eel-grass, which was stitched together between layers of kraft paper to make Seafelt, one of the first batt insulators for homes. The dried seaweed trapped air between its layers and kept heat from escaping through roofs. Seafelt was produced in the plant in Sable River near Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Ads bragged that for only $200, Seafelt could be added to the average six-room Nova Scotian home and save between $50 and $80 a year in home heating costs.
Another Guildford’s product, Purlboard, employed very different technology to produce a polyurethane roof and sidewall insulation. Alex Guildford installed the first laminate machine in North America to produce Purlboard after a scouting mission to ICI plants in England. Guildford’s was very much on the cutting edge of insulation products in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
They stayed out in front when they became early converts to the use of Fiberglass, which eventually replaced Seafelt as the leading home attic batt insulator. A division of Guildford’s became involved in creating Fibreglass boats for the speedboat market under the brand Sablecraft, thanks to Alex’s interest in recreational sailing.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Guildford’s was a local force in building supplies distribution and installation services. Separate divisions concentrated on flooring, roofing, ceiling systems, insulation (domestic and industrial) industrial cleaning and even road emulsions. The 1980’s was all about expansion.
The expansion phase included becoming one of the first businesses to establish itself in the nascent Burnside Industrial Park in 1962. Today, Burnside is the largest business park north of Boston and east of Montreal and Guildfords continues to keep pace with its growth, exemplified by the recent construction of new corporate Headquarters on Guildford Avenue in the Park’s newest phase, the Atlantic Gateway Halifax Logistics Park. We are very proud to be the oldest, continously operating business in the Park.
The Company was owned and operated by four generations of the Guildford family from 1906 until 2000 when it was purchased by Multiglass International, an insulation distribution company headquartered in Brampton, Ontario.
The company has its Head Office in Dartmouth, NS and maintains a series of branch offices and operations throughout Atlantic Canada with locations in Sydney and Havre Boucher in Nova Scotia, St. John’s in Newfoundland as well as Moncton and Saint John in New Brunswick.