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May/June 2003

 

The Gold Rush
Auto Glass Shops Head to Reno. Nev., to Learn How to Strike It Big at Independents' Day
by Penny Beverage

The last major gold rush our nation saw occurred in 1909. But in early February, approximately 300 auto glass technicians participated in a mini-gold rush, as they traveled to Reno, Nev., for the 2003 Independent Glass Association’s (IGA) National Glass Show and Convention, otherwise known as “Independent’s Days.” They weren’t looking to strike it big immediately as those in 1909 were, but to learn how to improve their businesses and strike it big eventually as independents. In addition, they were looking for information to help them in their struggle against the giants in the industry—the major auto glass chains, insurance companies and third-party administrators (networks).
Most seemed to come away with a wealth of information, and maybe not so much gold, but some plans for how to achieve it in the future.

Hitting the Books
While we all wish striking a fortune was as easy as using a knife and pick to dig up some gold, those in attendance at Independents’ Days were aware that it takes a little more than that—it takes some studying, listening and learning from associates in the industry.

Keynote speaker Jim Bernstein, who until the November election served as insurance commissioner for the state of Minnesota, took the stage to help them on this journey.

Bernstein encouraged shop owners to get in touch with their legislators about issues of concern to them (such as steering, price-fixing and rewards) (See July/August 2002 AGRR, page 28, for related story.) 

“Changing the law—can it be done? Yes. Can it be done to your satisfaction? Yes,” he said. “I’ve never met a legislator who wouldn’t contend that small businesses are a major part of their states.”

Tim Smale, chief executive officer for the IGA, followed by introducing a panel discussing how to form your own state IGA chapters. The panel consisted of Marc Anderson, IGA board vice president and president of All Glass of Minnesota, Dennis Hall of Dennis Hall and Associates PLC and Michelle Bolton, the Arizona state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB).

Anderson, who has formed a state chapter in Minnesota, provided advice on how to form a state chapter and why it is beneficial to the industry.

“Go cozy up to your legislators, and be someone they know and recognize, and you can make a difference,” he advised.
Hall spent his time at the podium focusing on “Legal Pressures in the Auto Glass Replacement Industry.” He suggested that above all, shops work to inform legislators and insurance commissioners of the industry’s issues.

“Nobody in the Arizona insurance commission, as of last October, knew that glass networks existed, but we’ve got to start somewhere,” Hall said.

Finally, Bolton ended the panel discussion by introducing attendees to an organization about which many of them had not heard before: the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). She explained that the NFIB is a national organization that represents small businesses in influencing public policy on the state and federal levels. According to Bolton, the NFIB is ranked as the third most powerful lobbyist in the nation with only the American Association for Retired People and the National Rifle Association ahead of it in power.

“If you have a lot of people working with legislators and staying in contact with them, your voice can be heard and can resonate,” Bolton said.

In addition, she spoke of a program called “association partnerships,” in which an association can partner with NFIB and its members can receive benefits of both organizations.

“Coalitions do matter, and people with a voice like NFIB’s can help you,” she reiterated to the interested crowd.

Representatives of the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) Council also took the stage to provide an update on AGRSS and inform attendees about the standard. Among those on the panel were Carl Tompkins, Western states area sales manager for Madison Heights, Mich.-based Sika Corp. and chair of the AGRSS credentialing committee, Cindy Minon-Ketcherside, owner of J.C.’s Glass in Phoenix and chair of the AGRSS Council, and Deb Levy, publisher of AGRR magazine and chair of the AGRSS marketing committee. 

“I sincerely believe that with AGRSS we are making history,” Minon-Ketcherside began, as she provided background on the standard and its present state.

Tompkins then took the podium to explain the registration program (see page 34) and inform attendees that anyone who registered with the AGRSS standard by the end of March will be considered a charter member.

“We need more visionaries and leaders in this industry,” Tompkins told the crowd.
Finally, Levy reported on the marketing committee’s work to get AGRSS online at www.agrss.org, along with a consumer site at www.safewindshields.com. In addition, AGRSS now has a speakers’ bureau available from which shops and organizations can book speakers about AGRSS.

Bob Steben of Ed Steben Glass Co. in Windsor, Conn., and IGA board secretary and treasurer, and Chuck Lloyd of Livgard and Rabuse LLP in Minneapolis followed up with a a seminar called “Digging into Billing.” “I believe if all of us charge a fair hourly labor rate, insurance companies cannot help but take notice of this,” Steben said.

Lloyd, who has been involved in a number of auto glass-related cases, followed with a discussion of the “Muller Model.” 

“Go out to as many car repair facilities as you can and find out how much they charge for labor. It’s worth your time,” he said. “Will judges understand this hourly labor rate? Yes, they used to be lawyers.”

The session was followed by one about diversification. Detroit-based Ziebert International’s Dick Bass, Darrell Smith, executive director of the International Window Film Association, and Paul Daniels, vice president of sales for Los Angeles-based C.R. Laurence Co. Inc., discussed how auto glass shops can increase their bottom lines by diversifying into other services in addition to auto glass.

For example, Bass recommended windshield coatings (such as PPG’s Aquapel), windshield wiper replacement, spray-on bedliners, stereo systems, scratch and dent removal and rust protection.

Smith recommended automotive film as an add-on idea, with eventual expansion even into residential film.

“Film is not adding a product to your company’s offering, but it is an expansion of your glazing abilities,” Smith said.

Daniels suggested a different approach—adding shower door enclosure installations on to an auto glass business for additional sales.

“It pretty much requires the same skill level as what you’re doing now, but it’s still a glass product,” Daniels said.

Dayton, Ohio-based Essex ARG’s technical services supervisor Dale Malcolm provided some information to attendees not on diversification, but how to complete installations properly by removing any corrosion before beginning the job.

He warned attendees to invest in some simple corrosion removal tools from stores such as Home Depot, to use pre-inspection forms so the driver is aware of the corrosion before the job is started and to consult with a legal counsel about policies and procedures related to the problem.

Products on Parade
Several companies introduced new products during the three-day trade show that was part of the event. Following are a few of these.

Dinol Unveils D-506 for Cold-Weather Use
Dinol, whose products are distributed in the United States by Pilkington North America, introduced its brand-new DINITROL D-506 cold-weather urethane. According to the company, the urethane has a 1-hour safe drive-away time and can be used at temperatures as low as 15° Fahrenheit. The company recently completed crash testing on the urethane. According to Dinol, D-506 is available with wide-mouth openings and in long, wide nozzles. 

Equipment Services Inc. Offers Flexible Glass Work Systems
West Jordan, Utah-based Equipment Services Inc. offers a variety of glass work systems. According to the company, the systems feature aluminum construction, are safe and secure, have decking constructed from tempered tongue and groove extrusion. All joints are bonded with epoxies/rivets, powder-coating paint, insulated doors and roof, fully skirted wheel wells, tie-down/belt-strap mounts on the forward wall, durable LED lighting brake and tail lighting and stainless steel latches with three locking points. In addition, the system can be attached to compact and full-size trucks, and is transferable from one truck to another.

Essex ARG Unveils 60-Minute Urethane
Essex ARG of Dayton, Ohio, has introduced BetaSeal™ Express—a urethane with a safe drive-away time of 60 minutes, even in extreme temperatures. According to the company, the one-component urethane is easy to use and no heating is required. In addition, its safety has been tested with crash testing by the company, and is useable in temperatures from 0° to 115° Fahrenheit.

Delta Introduces EZK 121 Kit
Eugene, Ore.-based Delta Kits introduced a brand-new double-bridge 12V windshield repair kit, the EZK 121. According to the company, the new kit contains an updated light that uses a 12-volt battery; it is also smaller and higher-quality than the original kit, according to the company. The EZK 1211 kit also contains a new battery pack.

Northstar Adds Locations
Northstar Auto Glass of Kansas City, Mo., had several new locations to boast about at the show. The company has a new distribution center in Sparks, Nev., a new warehouse in St. Louis and another warehouse was slated to open in Phoenix on April 1. In addition, the company now has the ability to mark windshields with its logo.

Glass Express Can Create Sealed IG Units On-Site
Arvada, Colo.-based Glass Express unveiled what it calls the first complete mobile glass shop on wheels for auto glass shops wishing to add-on residential services to their businesses. According to the company, the revolutionary system allows dealers to manufacture sealed units on-site at the customer’s home or office. The complete mobile shop is enclosed in a 24-foot trailer with all the equipment of a standard glass shop. The trailer is equipped with a sealed unit press, application table, roller table, glass cutting table, hack-out table, generator, air compressor, basic shop tools, wash and a-frame racks.

Gold Glass Group Promotes New Moulding Options
Gold Glass Group of Bohemia, N.Y., offered its new underside moulding tape. According to the company, the new pre-applied adhesive is revolutionary for the industry and bonds well with all urethanes on exposed-edge glass. In addition, the company introduced its ECONOMY™ mouldings, available at an affordable price.

Liquid Resins Debuts New Catalog
Liquid Resins International of Olney, Ill., has introduced its 2003 catalog of products. The catalog includes a number of products for windshield repair, including kits, resins and the latest tools available.

Sommer & Maca Introduce POWR BOND
Sommer & Maca Industries of Cicero, Ill., was promoting its POWR BOND urethane in 450-mil sausage packs. The urethane is available in three types: regular viscosity; high-viscosity, solvent-free; and cold-applied, high-viscosity and non-conductive. According to the company, the sausage package is more economical than a standard 10.5-ounce cartridge, and one sausage will usually contain enough adhesive to complete one installation.

IGA Honors Levy and Lloyd

On the final night of the show, Pilkington sponsored a dinner at the National Automotive Museum giving everyone an opportunity to take a walk through history and see how automobiles have changed through the years. In addition, the IGA used the opportunity to present some industry awards.

The IGA then surprised AGRR publisher Deb Levy by presenting her with the Carl Jolliff Leadership Award. 

“This person has worked long and hard for both the independents and for the manufacturers and suppliers,” Smale said.

The IGA also presented the President’s Award to Chuck Lloyd, who has dedicated countless hours to the industry by providing legal advice at numerous trade shows and representing a number of auto glass shops in a variety of suits.

“If I’d known about this, I wouldn’t have used all of my A material this morning,” joked the stunned Lloyd. 

Glass Pro Makes Repairs a “Cinch”
Glass Pro Systems of Monroe, Wis., offered “The Cinch,” which it says removes air in a repair before resin is injected into the glass. According to the company, the Cinch is equipped with a unique inner chamber that holds the resin off the glass while a vacuum is pulled. Then, after the air has been removed, the resin is injected into the break using hydraulic pressure. This eliminates the problems of air getting trapped in a break underneath the resin, or for the air to have to pass through the resin to be removed, making windshield repair a “cinch,” according to Glass Pro Systems.

A.N. Designs Introduces 3005-K and 3000-RK
Torrington, Conn.-based UltraWiz® by A.N. Designs introduced the UltraOne Cable Knife 3005-K. According to the company, the UltraOne 3005-K combines the single-set screw design from the company's 2000-M series with the comfort of its 3000-K designs. By using a one-set screw the technician only has to loosen the screw to replace the cutting blade and then it is held in place with a simple twist. The design allows the technician to adjust the height of the handle to work around the elevation changes of the vertical wall of the pinchweld that some of today's vehicles entail. The UltraWiz® UltraOne comes with a heavy-duty pull cable 3000-RK. According to A.N. Designs, the 3000-RK features a heavy-duty stainless steel mount and thin foam covers for the handle and cable.

Unruh Fab Develops Sprinter 2500
Sedgwick, Kan.-based Unruh Fab Inc. introduced the Sprinter 2500. According to the company, the oversized cargo van has nearly a foot of extra headroom over a standard-size van for easy-access loading and unloading. In addition, it’s equipped with large, flat glass racks mounted on both sides and customized to fit your specifications.

The Scent of Success
Both exhibitors and attendees alike seemed to find success at the show.

Gary Dunnegan, president of Northstar, said the show was a good opportunity to see its target customers—independent auto glass shops. “We’ve really enjoyed the show—great turn-out,” Dunnegan said. “We like to try to help the independents get on a level playing field with the big guys, so this is the perfect place to see our customers.”

Next year’s conference date had not been set at press time. 

Penny Beverage is the editor of AGRR magazine.

AGRR

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