What Might Have Been at the National Auto Glass Conference and Expo
by Penny Beverage
In the news business, there is a rule about using the future tense. Rather than writing “Such-and-such will take place,” one is supposed to write, “is expected to take place,” because the unforeseen can occur. In the September-October 2001 issue of AGRR, we featured a preview of the National Auto Glass Conference and Expo, which was to be held in Minneapolis, September 13-15. Throughout the article, words such as “plans to show off” and “will display” were used, because despite the aforementioned rule of journalism, there is usually little doubt that a trade show like this one will occur. But, on September 11, the industry—and the world—learned differently, and the age-old rule of journalism was reinforced.
While the show did not take place due to these tragic events, many were en route to the show when the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the World Trade Center in New York occurred. Others were in the midst of an important meeting—that of the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards committee (AGRSS), an independent group that was meeting on Tuesday. Many of those at the meeting were grounded in Minneapolis for days; some rented cars and made the long trek to their respective homes, while others waited it out until air travel resumed. Still others sat at home wondering what might occur—whether they would be flying out early the next morning, what would happen to their booths and other freight on the way to the show or whether an event this large could actually be cancelled.
By 11 a.m., after all three of the attacks had occurred and it became apparent that no one in the United States would be flying until at least noon the next day, the event sponsor had to make the inevitable decision of canceling an event for which they had long prepared.
Two Columbus, Ohio, residents, Paul Gross, president and founder of Gross Enterprises, and Brian Carr, senior graphic designer for Safelite, both of which are based in Columbus, were on a plane to Minneapolis when the terrorist attacks occurred.
“The captain came on and said that we were being asked to land and we'd have more information as soon as he did," said Gross. "A few minutes later, he came back on and told us that the United States had ordered all the planes out of the sky, something he’d never seen before. I wanted to know what was going on, so I called my travel agent from the air phone, who told me. I told the others on the plane. Even the pilot didn't know at the time. It was a very strange feeling.”
The plane landed in Michigan, where Gross and Carr gathered their luggage and rented a car, figuring driving to Minneapolis together would be their best bet. However, along the way they heard more reports about what was happening and decided that driving back to Ohio together immediately was the best plan.
Carl Tompkins, Western states area manager for the Sika Corp. of Madison Heights, Mich., and a member of the AGRSS committee, was already in Minneapolis when the attacks occurred.
“I was in the AGRSS meeting with 35 other corporate representatives [when the attacks occurred],” he said. “A number of phones and beepers went off announcing the attack. Everyone went into a state of disbelief and shock.”
Tompkins and several of his associates had rented a car and were contemplating driving back to Spokane, Wash., where he is based, but he opted to wait for a flight home. “Flights on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were all cancelled day by day. I stuck with my plan to wait until Friday. My 7 p.m. Delta flight back to Spokane left on time without delay,” Tompkins said. “Many ask, ‘How could you think about getting back on an airplane?’ My response was, ‘There has never been a safer time to fly than now.’”
As the attacks brought people together across the nation, it did so for those stranded as well. Henri Goudsmit, division manager of Aegis Tools International of Madison, Wis., and a member of AGRSS, was also stranded in Minneapolis. However, fellow AGRSS committee member Shari Gerber of Pro-Tec Auto Glass in Wauwatosa, Wis., was also stranded. Her fiance drove from his home in Milwaukee to pick her up and offered Henri a ride back to the Milwaukee airport where he’d left his car.
AGRR's publisher Debra Levy was also at the AGRSS meeting. Levy drove home to Stafford, Va., stopping in Chicago and Dayton, Ohio, along the way. All the while Levy's brother and cousin were in New York City—the former a firefighter, the latter a policeman—helping in the rescue efforts.
"We were at the very start of the AGRSS meeting when Sally Custer's (of NAGC Update) cell phone went off. You could see everyone in the room had "who-left-the-cell-phone-on?" looks on their faces as they looked over at her. When she got off the phone she whispered what she'd just heard to me and asked if she should say something. It sounded so far-fetched that I suggested she check it out further before saying anything,” Levy said. By the time she returned, the third plane had hit the Pentagon and she made the announcement to the group. Our chairperson Cindy [Minon-Ketcherside] reacted as I had. 'This is a joke, right?" she said anxiously. But unfortunately, of course, it was not.”
An abbreviated version of the meeting continued for a few hours. "The Hyatt had put TVs out in the hall ways," Levy said, "and there had been a Pilkington and a PPG meeting going on. As soon as the plane crashed in Pennsylvania those rooms cleared out and many people began heading out. The association staff came in sometime before noon and told us that their conference was being cancelled. In spite of all this, we actually had a very productive meeting."
"Lisa O'Connor, our Midwest sales manager, had a rental car which I asked her not to return and basically commandeered," said Levy. "We drove to Chicago together and I kept going. There were American flags everywhere—hanging on bridges and overpasses, on cars and babies. When you take a ride like that at a time like that through such beautiful country it overwhelms you with how precious it all is."
In addition, she discovered a burgeoning underground network of landlocked travelers. "There were signs posted everywhere offering to share rides to such-and-such city. It reminded me of being in college, where everyone teams up on rides and helps each other out,” Levy said.
Tompkins said he noticed the same sentiments throughout Minneapolis and on his way home. “The attitudes of everyone in Minneapolis were attitudes of sorrow, prayerfulness and help. There was a united spirit of assistance,” he said. “As terrifying as the news was and will continue to be, it was rewarding to see a nation come together and once again begin living our motto of ‘In God We Trust.’ I truly hope that we choose, as individuals and a nation, to keep God involved and in charge of our future. We’ve proven we cannot do it on our own.”
All Dressed Up With No Place to Go
While many were already in Minneapolis, others were at home packing and preparing to be out of the office for a few days. Many of these were looking forward to the launch of their newest products and to meeting and greeting customers with these innovations in-hand.
ADCO Products Inc. of Michigan Center, Mich., planned to unveil a new 2-ounce bottle packaging size for its TITAN GP-60 glass primer and TITAN WIP-40 metal body primer. The new size is designed specifically to offer customers a no-waste primer package along with a fresher product for each individual application, according to the company. In addition, ADCO expects the new size to require less storage space at glass shops and in mobile repair service vehicles.
ADCO’s Kelly Rose, marketing coordinator, echoed the rest of the industry as it publicized this product via news release, rather than in person, as was planned. “We at ADCO are all saddened by the events that led to the cancellation of the show,” she said.
AEGIS Tools International of Madiso n, Wis., had hoped to show off its new Milwaukee cordless urethane gun. According to the company, the PWR2006 cordless gun is equipped with a comfortable T-handle design and is available in a choice of three different barrel configurations. The PWR2006 also has a Xytel nylon cartridge carriage, variable speed switch, is compatible with 12- and 14.4-volt Milwaukee batteries, interchangeable front barrels, all metal gearing and weighs just a little more than five pounds.
Mainstreet Computers Inc. of Belleville, Mich., was going to announce the release of its Glas-Avenue 6.0 software, “the most comprehensive package that Mainstreet has ever released.” Along with this system Mainstreet has released two new modules, Purchase Orders and Scheduler. These models integrate with 6.0 and thus, provide quoting, invoicing, inventory control, accounting and a multi-ship communication system.
In addition, the company now has available an online part-ordering system for mutual customers of Mainstreet and Pilkington.
Safelite Corp. had planned to reveal several new services to its customers. The Safelite Glass Corp. (SGC) Network was going to introduce the “Business Advantage” suite of services, which includes online invoicing through www.sgcnetwork.com, electronic payment and the ability to check invoice status and other information online. In addition, Service AutoGlass™, a division of Safelite, planned to unveil several new available products. The company now offers a new line of urethane products, ProGRIP™, which includes a high-viscosity, single-part, non-heated urethane, ProGRIP Plus, a high-viscosity, single-part, heated urethane, ProGRIP auto glass prep and primer products and electric ovens to heat the ProGRIP Plus product. Service AutoGlass also offers ProGRIP glass cleaner.
In addition, Service AutoGlass has added a selection of Redi-Cut mirrors to its product line. According to the company, the easy-to-install mirror products allow shops to offer a new service to their auto glass customers.
The Sika Corp. was looking forward to showing its newest videos demonstrating the latest crash-test results on vehicles equipped with its adhesive system, along with several new products.
Reid Manufacturing of Southfield, Mich., was to unveil its RCB-110-CS Cobra blade. According to the company, the new Cobra blade is made from a custom-alloyed steel, CS-8, and is extremely thin. In addition, Reid offers the RK-500 quick-release cold knife.
Delta Kits Inc. of Eugene, Ore., had hoped to display its newly designed B300 bridge/injection assembly. Equalizer Industries of Round Rock, Texas, was going to unveil its new, serrated Equalizer blades at this industry event.
Crystal Glass of Calgary, Alberta, also planned to make the trip down for the show, where it hoped to exhibit its Extractor.
GTS Services LLC, a subsidiary of PPG Industries Inc. based in Portland, Ore., had big plans to show off its brand-new glaspacLX—a software package for glass retailers—at the show, but those plans, like so many others that fateful week, were quickly cancelled.
Associates from C.R. Laurence Co. Inc. (CRL) planned to travel from Los Angeles to show off the company’s new POWR urethane in 15.2-fluid-ounce sausage packs. In addition, CRL was going to unveil its OEM dual-vent replacement sliders. The company developed the sliders especially for the 1973-1996 Ford F-Series, 1983-1997 Ford Ranger and 1986-1993 Mazda pick-up trucks.
Gold Glass Group of Bohemia, N.Y., just an hour from the site of one of the tragedies, planned to show off its underside moulding, also featured in last month’s preview. A.N. Designs of Torrington, Conn., would have unveiled its 5000 series UltraWiz UltraThin cold-knife blades, which it says are 40 percent thinner than its original UltraWiz blades. Likewise, Essex ARG of Dayton, Ohio, hoped to display its EssexPak™ system, which includes the company’s battery-powered EssexPak applicator for dispensing its Speedlink U-208EEP from an economy-size package.
Marcy Adhesives of Columbus, Ohio, had planned to show off its underglass moulding, a self-adhesive moulding that sticks directly to the underside of a vehicle’s glass.
While the industry has learned that it should not depend on the occurrence of future events, as something might stand in their way, we all hope no such tragic event will ever again occur. In that light, the 2002 National Auto Glass Conference and Expo is slated for September 25-28, 2002, at the Marco Island Marriott Resort in Marco Island, Fla.
Penny Beverage is the editor of AGRR magazine.
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