September/October 2000

Some Like it Hot

The 2000 National Auto Glass Conference Heats Up in Palm Springs

by Ellen Giard

 

The quaint city of Palm Springs, tucked away at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains, has been a retreat and getaway for Hollywood celebrities for decades. But, for four days in September, it was the auto glass professionals who moved in. They were in town for the 2000 National Auto Glass Conference, sponsored by the National Glass Association (NGA), which took place September 13 through 16 at the LaQuinta Resort and Club.

 Teeing Off

For those who could stand the scorching 110-plus degree temperatures, a golf tournament and luncheon opened the event Wednesday morning. The opening ceremonies, however, officially began that same evening with a keynote address by Peter Schutz, retired CEO of Porsche. Schutz focused on people management and how to get extraordinary results from ordinary people. “If we want to upgrade the performance of the organization, we have to upgrade the way we manage,” he said.

In addition, the NGA Special Achievement Award, which is given annually to an important individual in the auto glass industry, was given to Edward Fennell Jr. of Bartelstone Glass Distributors of the Bronx, N.Y. Fennell also is a 1997 inductee into the Glass and Metal Hall of Fame™, sponsored by USGlass magazine.

Seminars

Topics for this year’s various seminars covered such issues as how to manage and operate successful glass shops, selling tips and legislative issues and concerns.

Carl Tompkins of Sika Corp., of Lyndhurst, N.J., led the first day’s seminar with his lesson, Glass Shops in America. This presentation included the top eight habits of successful glass shops in America: choosing to succeed; choosing a great attitude; creating change; getting out and selling; running a tight ship; diversifying; utilizing a customer service strategy; and building people with “REME”—requirements, education, measurement and example.

Selling Value in a Price World, was presented by Bob Ayrer of REA Performance Consultants. Ayrer offered advice on how to get customers to look away from choosing the product with the lowest price and instead choose the ones that offer better value and service.

Legislative issues and legal matters also were covered extensively. In News from the Front Lines!, AGRR columnist Chuck Lloyd, with Lindquist & Vennum, discussed how glass shops can avoid and handle short payments. Michael B. Hyman of Much Shelist Freed Denenberg Ament & Rubenstein in Chicago, reviewed evidence presented at last year’s State Farm trial. An Illinois jury sided with policyholders who claimed that State Farm breached its contract with them and violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by not returning vehicles to “pre-loss” condition when it used aftermarket crash parts (see related story in October 1999 USGlass magazine, page 72).

Saturday wrapped up with The Days Following the 20/20 Exposé. The seminar took a closer look at the responsibilities of auto glass professionals, brought into light after the 20/20 piece last winter. The episode looked at the dangers of improper auto glass installation. Panelists included Frank Levesque of FEIN Power Tools Inc., Sam Brownell with Carlite by Visteon and John Fransway, the brother of Jeanne Fransway who died in an auto accident because her windshield was not properly replaced. Two auto installation demonstrations also were included in the seminar line-up.

Though the seminars covered a vast number of topics, response from those in attendance was mixed. “I thought the seminars were very good, especially the 20/20 one because it gave us an idea of what could happen with an improper installation,” said Scott Owen of Excel Auto Glass of Lake Katrine, N.Y. “It’s unfortunate that more of the smaller shops cannot afford to attend these conferences because there is a lot to learn.”

“The seminars I went to were excellent,” said Scott Harkey of Windshield Glass Inc. in Greensboro, N.C. “My favorite was State of the Art Auto Glass by Glenn Moses of Safelite Corp. “It’s fascinating to see what’s on the horizon for auto glass.”

 The Trade Show

Aside from the seminars, show attendees and exhibitors had another opportunity to network during the trade show, which took place on Thursday and Friday evening. More than 50 companies were on hand, giving attendees a chance to not only see what is currently available, but to also learn more about what products are coming. “The trade show was a good opportunity to see the latest tools and meet some of the vendors we work with,” Owens said .

“At some of the exhibitor’s booths, like BTB Auto Glass, you could try the tool. And that’s good because you can then see how it actually works.”

Equalizer Industries of Round Rock, Texas, brought along its 2001 product catalogue. The more-than-100-page catalog features the companies latest auto glass product lines, including adhesives, cleaners, gaskets and more. “Our catalog was really well-received at this show,” said Eric Asbury, vice president. “We got back into the office the next week and were already getting calls from people wanting to place orders from it.”

Demonstrations of Essex ARG’s new bulk delivery system were also available during the show. According to Dave Chillinsky, western region sales manager, the application gun can handle up to three different applications before it needs to be refilled. “This bulk delivery system provides both cost and materials savings,” Chillinsky said. “It enhances productivity and also reduces waste,” he added.

Information about Sika Corp.’s new Star Distributor program was also available during the event. According to a Star Distributor brochure, the program is designed to help distributors increase business, improve retail glass shop loyalty, provide distributor employee recognition, improve safety and quality standards in auto glass installation and reduce liability risks.

 Wrapping Up

Though the National Auto Glass Conference did provide strong networking opportunities and information, it did have its downside.

“I’ve been to the auto glass conference every year since 1990 and this year’s location just wasn’t as conducive to intermingling as other shows. It needs to be in a more attendee-friendly setting,” Harkey said. “And also, since stories like the PPG/GTS acquisition were being announced before the conference, there seemed to be less ground-breaking news than previous years.”

 Ellen Giard is assistant editor of AGRR magazine.

AGRR

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