November/December  2001

AGRReports
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LEGAL
International Trade Administration Rules in Favor of Petitioners

The International Trade Administration (ITA) has ruled in favor of Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries, Columbus, Ohio-based Safelite Corp. and Minneapolis-based Apogee Enterprises in its preliminary decision in the anti-dumping case filed by these three companies against Chinese automotive replacement glass windshield manufacturers. The decision came nearly three weeks after its original due date of August 31 after several postponements of the decision—first due to findings by the ITA that the case was “unusually complicated” and then at the request of the petitioners for an extension. (See September/October 2001 AGRR, page 11, for related story.)

The ITA reported that in its preliminary investigation, it found that certain automotive replacement glass windshields from China are being, or are likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value.
The ITA preliminarily found a dumping margin of 124.50 percent for some 23 Chinese producers of windshields and a dumping margin of 9.79 percent for Fuyao Glass Industry Group Ltd. and its wholly-owned U.S. importer, Greenville Glass Inc.

Apogee, whose subsidiary, Viracon/Curvlite, fabricates replacement windshields, welcomed the decision. “Obviously, we are pleased that the department’s finding confirms the evidence of dumping by Chinese windshield producers that we supplied in our petition,” said Patricia Beithon, the company’s general counsel. “This decision is a first step toward restoring conditions of fair trade in the U.S. ARG windshield market.”

PPG’s vice president of automotive replacement glass, Garry Goudy, echoed Beithon’s thoughts. “The department’s finding confirms what was said in the anti-dumping petition, namely, that Chinese producers are selling their merchandise at unfairly low prices,” Goudy said. “PPG believes that the level of dumping is higher than the preliminary finding, and we will be providing input to help the Commerce Department reach an accurate result by the end of the investigation.”

The case will now return to the International Trade Commission (ITC), which was due to make its final postponement within 135 days of September 10, but at press time, had postponed the decision until February 1, 2002. Until the final decision is made and the ITA and ITC decide whether to instate permanent anti-dumping duties on windshield manufacturers importing replacement windshields from China, the U.S. Customs Service will require a cash deposit or the posting of a bond equal to the weighted-average amount by which the “normal value” exceeds the export price.

NAGS Sues Tom Feeley and Autoglasscart.com
San Diego-based National Auto Glass Specifications International (NAGS) has filed a suit against Tom Feeley and his Autoglass Cart website, http://www.autoglasscart.com. According to Catherine Howard, vice president/general manager of NAGS, the suit was filed “after unsuccessful efforts to persuade Mr. Feeley to cease his ongoing infringement of the NAGS GlassMate database in certain of his business activities.” NAGS charges that he has committed copyright infringement and has violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

“Mitchell [NAGS’ parent company] has and continues to invest significant resources into the development, maintenance and support of the NAGS GlassMate database, a resource we believe to be quite valuable to the glass industry as a whole,” Howard continued. “In the interest of protecting this valuable resource and our customers, we, as a general practice, vigorously investigate and pursue any parties that could be in violation of copyright law.”

Through his websites, Feeley allows users to purchase auto glass and other repair and replacement tools and supplies. The websites contain a database of price listings for the products, along with the ability to generate free quotes.

Feeley was not available for comment at press time. 

Barnes Charged with Violating Law
Terry Barnes Auto Glass Inc. of Bismarck, N.D., is facing five misdemeanor charges for allegedly violating state law by advertising that the company would pay insurance deductibles, according to a report in the August 11, 2001, Bismarck Tribune. However, prosecutors have agreed to do away with an injunction placed against the company to stop it from advertising as such until the trial is complete.

Barnes’ attorney, Tom Dickson, is complaining that the new, recently-instated law is of “questionable validity.” “Competition is supposed to be the hallmark of free enterprise,” Dickson told the Tribune. “And I don’t know if his competitors should be able to use the criminal-justice system to try to put an honest businessman out of work.”

The law, which eliminates cash-back incentives and offers covering insurance deductibles in Idaho, went into effect August 1.

Glass-Related Companies Subpoenaed for Price-Fixing in Automotive Finish Industry
Several manufacturers of automotive finishes that are also involved in the glass business have been subpoenaed in a probe by the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged price-fixing in the automotive refinishing business. Among the subpoenaed companies were Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont Co., Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries Inc. and Akzo Nobel NV of the Netherlands.

According to former PPG spokesman John Ruch, this should not affect the company’s glass business. PPG has conducted its own investigation of the allegations and Ruch said it found no support for the allegation within the company. “We found no indication here that anyone had done anything outside the law,” he said.The company is uncertain when it will receive a confirmation or negation of the claims of the subpoena. “The subpoenas were issued in January and we haven’t heard anything since, so who knows?” he added. “Sometimes you never get an answer … We said we would cooperate and we did, and we haven’t heard anything more.”

EXPANSIONS
ABRA Adds Another Tennessee Franchise
Minneapolis-based ABRA Auto Body & Glass has opened its 69th facility in Cleveland, Tenn. According to the company, this is the second ABRA franchise awarded to Nelson Bowers II in the greater Chattanooga, Tenn., area. Rollie Benjamin, president and chief executive officer, said he believes the new franchise will fare as well as Bowers’ other franchise.

“We are very happy with the success of Nelson’s Chattanooga franchise. This success can be attributed to his team’s in-depth knowledge of the damaged vehicle repair industry and his emphasis on integrity,” Benjamin said. “Their professional staff and leadership fit perfectly with our corporate philosophy, and we feel confident that the Cleveland location will perform up to the high standards expected of all ABRA 
centers.”

The 14,000-square-feet facility employs two mechanics, eight body technicians, two painters, two preppers and two detailers.

DISTRIBUTION
Pilkington to Become Exclusive Distributor of Dinol Products
Pilkington North America of Toledo, Ohio, has entered into an exclusive distributorship with Dinol, a global, Swedish-based supplier of adhesives and polyurethane products. According to a news release issued by the company, Pilkington expects the distributorship to help it better serve the needs of the aftermarket auto glass replacement customers in the United States. 

“This venture will give Pilkington the opportunity to be an exclusive distributor of the Dinitrol product line in the [United States],” said Peter Martin, accessory sales and product line manager for Pilkington. “We are always looking to provide our customers with more choices and this gives us the means to do that.”
Dave Eldredge, national account manager for Dinol in the United States, echoed Martin’s sentiments. “We are very pleased to enter into this agreement, which will bring a new, high-quality OE product line to the whole U.S. market,” Eldredge said.

MANUFACTURING
PPG Launches New E-Coat Application Center in Flint, Mich.
Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries has begun operations at its new $6 million electrodeposition automotive coating (e-coat) application center, which was recently added to the company’s automotive application development center in Flint, Mich. According to the company, the e-coat application facility contains two full-size dip tanks, which allow PPG and its customers to test and evaluate various vehicle primer products and processes at the facility. The e-coat process provides corrosion protection and a smooth surface for paints by dipping negatively charged vehicle bodies into baths of positively charged primer, according to PPG. The facility covers 15,500 square feet.

In addition, PPG has announced it now has a new powder coating available that improves mar and scratch resistance in a range of applications. The coating, ENVIROCRON XMR powder coating, has undergone extensive testing at PPG’s coatings research and development center in Allison Park, Pa. The product is available in a range of powder-coating chemistries, including pigmented and clear formulations.

“This represents a huge leap forward in powder-coating technology,” said Rob Edwards, director of global powder operations. “This new technology has the potential to have a huge impact in any industrial application where the scratch resistance of the coating is beneficial.”

Subaru Recycles Glass for Legacy and Forester
Fuji Heavy Industries and Nippon Muki Co. have developed a method of recycling automotive glass for use in engine compartments as sound-damping material, to be used by Subaru in the vehicles it manufactures. According to the companies, sidelite glass is crushed and mixed with other glass materials, then melted and processed into fiberglass. It is then shaped and subsequently heat-pressed so the fiberglass can be molded into myriad forms for attachment under the bonnet.

Nippon Muki, a mid-sized Japanese supplier, will make the fiberglass. Fuji Heavy, which makes Subaru cars, will purchase all of the fiberglass for use in its vehicles, beginning with the Legacy sedan wagon and the Forester sports utility vehicle. However, Subaru said it has not yet found a way to use backlites and windshields in the recycling process, as they contain heating wires and laminated glass.

SAFETY
Sika Expands Services
Sika Industry’s automotive replacement group of Madison Heights, Mich., has designed the Sika Star Distributor program. The company says the program will help distributors increase business, improve retail glass shop loyalty, provide distributor employee recognition, improve the safety and quality standards in auto glass installation and reduce liability risks. To be certified as a Sika Star Distributor, the distributor must meet Sika’s standards for product knowledge training, maintenance of product documentation, distributor maintenance of required primers and cleaners and distributor maintenance of Sika polyurethane products inventory.

The program is available to all qualifying distributors of Sika’s auto glass repair products.
In addition, the company has a new program designed to provide its auto glass replacement customers with a means of obtaining Sika products in the event of a natural disaster. According to Sika, these events might include severe windstorms and thunderstorms, hail, ice storms, tornadoes or hurricanes or any event that causes widespread damage to windshields and results in a shortage of replacement materials. Sika’s emergency response program will allow customers to enter orders quickly through Sika customer service and obtain immediate shipment from the company’s distribution center in Marion, Ohio. The service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“It’s our hope that none of our customers have to experience a disaster,” said John King, vice president, “but if disaster strikes, the Sika emergency response program will be there for them.”

KUDOS
PPG Names Ten Excellent Suppliers
Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries has recognized the following ten suppliers for extraordinary performance in 2000:

• Bayer Corp., Coatings and Colorants Vision of Pittsburgh; 

• Citibank-Ireland of Dublin; 

• Dedoes of Walled Lake, Mich.; 

• Dmc² of Washington, Pa.; 

• EMC Chemical Distributors of North Chicago, Ill.; 

• Jaakko Pory Engenharia of Sao Paulo, Brazil; 

• Menasha of Yukon, Pa.; 

• Oxeno Olefinchemie of Marl, Germany; 

• Philip Services of West Lake, La.; and

• Henry F. Teichmann of McMurray, Pa.
Margaret McGrath, vice president of purchasing and distribution, said the awards are based on ratings for quality, delivery, documentation, innovation, responsiveness and commercial value. “These ten companies were truly outstanding in 2000,” she said. “They provided a level of excellence and innovation that formed a significant competitive advantage for PPG.”

PPG also recently received the Good Housekeeping Seal for its automotive replacement glass from the Good Housekeeping Institute, publishers of Good Housekeeping magazine. According to the Good Housekeeping website, the seal can be obtained by advertising in the magazine and then gaining the approval of the Good Housekeeping Institute to use the seal. The seal license will then be issued for one year at no additional cost, enabling the companies to display the seal.

In addition, PPG’s original-equipment auto glass business was named a supplier of the year by the General Motors Corp. This is the second time the company has received the honor, with the first being in 1995. Ernest Hahn, vice president of auto glass, accepted the award for the company at an April ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“Receiving this honor validates our efforts, which will continue as we strive to uphold the values for which we have been recognized,” Hahn said.

LAWS
Minnesota Senate Debates Law on Broken Windshield Offense
The Minnesota State Senate recently debated a proposal that would forbid the state’s law enforcement agents from pulling over a vehicle on the grounds of a broken windshield as its primary violation. Instead, it was proposed that if a vehicle is pulled over for a moving violation and happens to have a cracked or broken windshield, the operator can be ticketed for the offense. But, if the operator is abiding by the law otherwise, the law enforcement agent would not have the jurisdiction to pull the vehicle aside. Sen. Linda Berglin proposed the amendment as an addendum to a law that makes seat belt violations a primary offense, in an effort to curb alleged racial profiling. (Some in the state had made claims that broken windshields had often been used as excuses to pull over vehicles driven by minorities.) 

The Minnesota Glass Association, along with Minnesota state patrol chief Col. Ann Beers, protested the proposal, citing safety concerns as a reason for the necessity of pulling vehicles with cracked or broken windshields aside. Finally, Sen. Berglin withdrew her proposal because it seemed to attract little support. However, Beers reminded the industry that it must keep its eyes open for laws such as this, which could inhibit the safety of consumers unknowledgeable of the structural importance of a properly installed windshield.

ACQUISITIONS
Mitchell Acquires Ensera Inc.
San Diego-based Mitchell International has finalized its purchase of Ensera Inc., a company that develops and provides technology solutions to automate the communications and workflow processes across the business enterprises in the automotive claims and collision repair marketplaces.

"Uniting Ensera with Mitchell International further expands our ability to provide our customers with the most advanced, flexible and innovative e-commerce solutions in the industry today," said Jim Lindner, chairman, president and chief executive officer for Mitchell.

As part of the acquisition, Anthony Aquila, Ensera founder and chief executive officer, and several other Ensera executives will assume senior management positions within Mitchell.
The purchase price of the acquisition was not disclosed.

COMPANIES
Klein-Dickert Opens Eleventh Facility
Klein-Dickert Co. of Madison, Wis., has opened its 11th auto glass service center at 1918 Schofield Ave. in Wausau, Wis. According to the company, the new store features complete mobile and in-shop auto glass repair and replacement services for vehicles of all types. In addition to providing a base of operations for the company's Wausau-area mobile service fleet, the facility includes office space, indoor service bays, a customer lounge and warehouse space for stocking windshields and other parts.

"The new Wausau location allows us to increase our mobile coverage territory by more than 1,000 square miles. It also shortens drive times to certain areas that were previously served by our other Northern locations," said Richard Karbon, executive vice president.

IN FLIGHT
InspecTech Installs SPD Windows on First Jet
InspecTech Aero Service Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has completed the world’s first executive jet to be equipped and certified with suspended-particle-device (SPD) smart windows. The SPD technology—which allows windows to change from dark to light at the touch of a button—was developed by Research Frontiers Inc. of Woodbury, N.Y., and licensed to a number of companies to use the technology in a variety of products.

InspecTech Aero Service installed the windows on a Learjet 25C, which is owned and operated by National Jets of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

AGRR

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