AFG Industries founder R.D. Hubbard remembered for his contributions to Kingsport

Hank Hayes • May 7, 2020 at 2:15 PM

AFG Industries founder R.D. Hubbard, 84, who died April 29 at his home in Palm Desert, California, is being remembered as a visionary leader who turned glass production into a major Kingsport employer.

“I thought very highly of him as a person and a leader of a company,” said Doug Kirkland, a former AFG president. “He had a philosophy that I tried to follow in my career, which was giving people authority to make decisions in a timely basis. He would reward people when they made the right decision. He was a good businessperson and a good person.”

AFG in Kingsport during Hubbard’s years made pattern glass that was used for outdoor patio tabletops and shower doors. Hubbard’s background, Kirkland pointed out, was primarily in marketing.

“Big loss, (Hubbard) was great for Kingsport,” former Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips said.

Hubbard, said Kirkland, encouraged his people to become active in the community. 

“Through his encouragement, I joined the Chamber of Commerce,” Kirkland said.

Glas International, an affiliate of the Japanese glass-making giant Asahi Glass Group, bought AFG Industries in 1992 and it became AGC Glass.

Born in Smith Center, Kansas, on June 13, 1935, Hubbard was the youngest of eight children. He worked in his family’s icehouse and attended Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. Upon graduation, he became a teacher.

Hubbard left teaching to become a glass salesman in 1959. Nine years later, he became president of Safelite Auto Glass. In 1978, he formed AFG Industries, which he helped grow into the second-largest glass manufacturer in North America.

He built and operated The Woodlands, a dual greyhound and racehorse facility in Kansas City, Kansas. In addition, Hubbard was also chairman of Hollywood Park and Turf Paradise. He also helped create the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Hubbard and his wife, Joan Dale, founded the R.D. and Joan Dale Hubbard Foundation in 1986; the Shoemaker Foundation, formed in 1991; and the Hubbard Museum of the American West in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico. For his achievements and impact on the industry, Hubbard was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2009.

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