Born in Germany, Bill Carls immigrated to the United States in 1924 at the age of 21. He became a citizen of the United States at the earliest opportunity. Utilizing his years of training and experience in European apprentice programs, he readily found employment with a series of major companies in the active Detroit industrial scene.
Bill Carls started Numatics, Inc. in his garage in 1945. The company is headquartered in Highland, Michigan and remains a leading worldwide manufacturer of industrial air valves. Bill Carls became the sole owner in 1951, and was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Numatics, Inc. until 1990 when, at the age of 87, he sold the Company to the corporation’s management executives.
In 1953 he patented a unique spool-and-sleeve pneumatic valve design. The design, still in use today, uses a film of air millionths of an inch thick to suspend the spool inside the sleeve. The cushioning effect allows the valve to operate longer, more consistently and with fewer breakdowns than other existing conventional valves. The air valve is used worldwide in manufacturing everything from automobiles, to textiles, to zippers.
Bill Carls always shared credit for the success of Numatics with his first wife Marie. Bill and Marie settled in White Lake Township after their marriage, and lived there for more than 50 years. Marie Carls was an active employee of the Company from 1951 until just prior to her death in 1981. She assisted the business in many capacities and was respected and loved by her fellow employees.
The William and Marie Carls Foundation was established in 1961 and was utilized by Bill and Marie Carls to implement their charitable activities. Until the time of her death, the activities of the Foundation were the primary responsibility of Marie Carls and thereafter, Bill Carls took an active role the management until his death in 1995. The Foundation shortened its name to The Carls Foundation in 1992.
Mr. Carls felt privileged and proud to be an American citizen, and considered his funding of the Foundation as a way to return benefits to his community and country, and as an expression of his appreciation for the great opportunities which America afforded him. Close acquaintances of Mr. Carls also observed that throughout his life there were many instances of unobtrusive, private acts of generosity by him for the benefit of friends, employees and their families, and others in need.