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July/August  2004

AGRReports
    breakig news

LEGISLATION 
Senate Looks at Right to Repair 
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair legislation (S. 2138) to the Senate on Feb. 26, according to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA). Similar to legislation introduced in the House (H.R. 2735), the bill will ensure that motorists retain the right to choose how and by whom their vehicles are maintained and repaired.

“The introduction of S. 2138 by Senator Graham represents another milestone in the battle to obtain passage of this critical legislation needed to ensure the future competitiveness of the independent aftermarket,” said Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and chief executive officer.

“Independents do not have the luxury of depending on the promises of the vehicle manufacturers,” said Schmatz.
“Our service industry needs affordable and effective access to tools and information, not just this year, but for many years to come. The only way to make sure this happens is through passage of effective right to repair legislation,” said Schmatz. 

AGRSS Registration Program Nears Milestone
The Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS) Council has announced that its list of registered shop now includes nearly 1000 locations. Just short of the first milestone in registrants, the announcement coincides with the Council’s new focus on membership. 

“Having nearly 1000 shops —988 locations to be exact—committing themselves to safety shows the dedication of the industry and is a positive statement of what’s to come,” said Debra Levy, chair of the AGRSS marketing committee. “It’s particularly heartening to see there are AGRSS registered shops in every state of the union save one,” she added. “Hawaii is the only state left without representation, and we expect that to change very shortly.”

AGRSS Announces Guidelines for Logo Usage 
The Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS) Council has issued guidelines for the use of its council logo as well as the use of the “registered company” logo. The AGRSS Council felt that the time was right to set and announce guidelines for the use of its logos to prevent misuse by companies either intentionally or unintentionally.

“The AGRSS logos are a symbol of our organization and the hard work every member and registered company has done to make AGRSS succeed,” said Cindy Ketcherside, chair of the AGRSS Council. “By issuing guidelines for the use of our logos, we are ensuring the preservation of our integrity and the reputation we have established, as well as that of those who are registered members.”

Both the AGRSS Council logo and the AGRSS Registered Company logo are intellectual property and must be noted with either a trademark (™) or registered (®) symbol accordingly. 

For more information, contact the AGRSS industry website at www.agrss.com or its consumer safety site at www.safewindshields.com.

AGRSS Council Forms Registered Company Development Committee
As the list of shops registered with the Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standards Council (AGRSS) nears 1000, the organization’s board of directors has created a new registered company development committee to focus on membership and member retention. Jean Pero of Mygrant Glass has been appointed chair of the new committee, which currently has four council members committed, with invitations to five others.
 
“The goal of the committee is to pursue registering shops across the United States,” said Pero in a phone interview from her office in Denver. “The committee was developed so that we could try to move recruitment and registration even faster and set a goal for increasing registration. We’d like to have as many shops represented across the United States as possible,” she said. Pero indicated that while the committee right now is comprised of members of the Standards Council, non-council members will also be invited to join and she serves as the contact person for interested parties.

LEGAL 
Safelite to File Counter Claim 
A motion filed by Safelite Glass Corp. to file new counterclaims and defenses against Diamond Triumph was accepted by a judge in the U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania. The April 22, 2004 ruling allows Safelite to file a counterclaim in the Diamond Triumph versus Safelite Glass Corp. lawsuit that is currently pending. The amended counterclaim alleges that Diamond Triumph used illegal and improper push payments, including commercial bribery to induce insurance agents to refer or recommend auto glass customers to Diamond Triumph.

“Safelite will continue to vigorously defend itself and will, with equal vigilance, prosecute its counterclaims,” said Mark Smolik, Safelite general counsel in a press release. “Once the discovery process has been completed we would expect to seek dismissal of all claims against Safelite and recover damages incurred as a result of Diamond Triumph’s conduct.”

Diamond Triumph responded with a press release of its own, calling the Safelite countersuit unfounded.

“Safelite’s new counterclaims do not have any merit,” said Michael Sumsky, Diamond Triumph’s president and general counsel. “We believe this is another in a series of attempts by Safelite and its attorneys to distract the court and the public from the legitimate issues of our lawsuit—Safelite’s unlawful conduct and the damage it has caused Diamond Triumph. We are not distracted, however, and will continue to pursue our case – a case we believe we will win.”

The Diamond Triumph press release further questioned the timing of the Safelite counterclaims on a suit that has been in the courts for two years.

“Had Safelite believed there was any merit to these allegations, they should have raised them in response to our original complaint. This delay speaks volumes,” Sumsky said. “As to these new counterclaims themselves, we are working with our attorneys and will take action with the court appropriate for such meritless allegations.”

CHANGES
Auto Glass Specialists Restructures
Auto Glass Specialists of Madison, Wis., has announced a major restructuring plan.

The company has announced that PPG Auto Glass, LLC of Pittsburgh has become its primary supplier of glass and sundry parts. With this relationship, PPG Auto Glass will operate from two Auto Glass Specialists warehouses and its own distribution locations to distribute glass to Auto Glass stores in five Midwestern states.
“This just-in-time inventory approach reduces our inventory costs while allowing most of our stores to receive up to three deliveries a day, enabling us to improve our customer service,” said Robert Birkhauser, president and chief executive officer.

The company also has realigned its service territories and closed stores. These territories will still be serviced by an AGS store in proximity or by mobile units. 

“Maintaining our business with these area insurance agencies, commercial accounts and consumers is critical. We are still providing our high quality of service,” said Birkhauser.

The last part of the restructuring drive includes reducing overhead at the corporate level with cost reductions and layoffs.

EXPANSIONS
Asahi to Establish New Float Furnace for Auto Glass in China
Tokyo-based Asahi Glass Co has announced its decision to establish a new float furnace for automotive glass. The company plans to spend nearly $100 million (US) to establish a new firm in Suzhou, Jingsu Province, China with a target set up date of May 2004 and production slated to start in the second quarter of 2006.

The Suzhou plant will be Asahi’s second Chinese unit equipped with a float glass furnace and the main product of the facility will be raw glass for automotive use. Asahi is anticipating the sale of the product to AGC Automotive Qinhuangdao Co, Asahi Glass’ processing base for automotive glass, and other Chinese firms engaged in processing automotive glass, as well as exporting it to Japan.

Online Message Boards Receive Upgrade, Addition of glasslinks.com
AGRR magazine has announced that glass.com® and affiliated websites have upgraded their website message boards to offer more features to users with less non-industry advertisements.

Glass.com, the industry’s home address on the world wide web, is host to publication and industry area message boards, including www.agrrmag.com for the automotive glass industry. This site also serves glassbytes.com.

The message boards are now advertisement free for easier navigation and aesthetic purposes for users. 

“The sole purpose of the boards is to provide a venue where industry colleagues are able to view and post messages pertaining to the topics currently discussed or to pose new topics or questions facing them,” stated marketing director Holly Biller. 

Message boards are complimentary to all viewers and are open for candid replies. Industry-related advertisements are also available.

Additionally, Key Communications Inc., publisher of AGRR magazine, has purchased the assets of glasslinks.com, an industry news and bulletin board service.

“Glasslinks.com will be merged with our other news sites, glassbytes.com for the auto glass industry and usgnn.com for the architectural glass industry,” said Biller.

“Glasslinks.com will retain its current look and navigation for a few months until it can be merged and updated. Watch for a new look by the end of the year.”
Info call 540-720-5584 ext. 123. 

AGRR

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