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July/August  2004

Field of Vision
    from the editor

The Learning Curve

by Brigid OíLeary

Boy do I have a lot to learn about the industry. Since the last time I wrote a lot has happened. Iíve been to Connecticut and seen the passion with which members of the auto glass industry (from across the country) who do repair fight what they saw as a measure to effectively outlaw repair in the state. I attended the Independent Glass Associationís convention and trade show in Columbus, Ohio, and saw the fervor with which independent shop owners come together to discuss and address concerns about the industry and to plan for the future, to ensure there is a future for each of them.

Prior to the IGA show I labored under the misconception that it was called Independence Days and wondered why it wasnít held closer to the 4th of July (I was very confused). Independence Day, for me, was always about fireworks, barbecues and patriotism about our countryís fight for freedom. Now that Iím aware that it is Independentsí Day, Iím not so sure that I was that off on my interpretation. What I saw at the convention was a multitude of people who were free (to some degree) and fighting to maintain their freedom from what they see as corporate tyrants trying to tell them how to run their business. There may not have been fireworks, per se, but I donít think itís unreasonable that there couldnít be some in the future (either literally or figuratively).

While at the show I learned a lot. I learned that almost everyone who was there reads this magazine and most everyone receives our GlassBYTES daily e-mail newsletter. I learned that not everyone was happy with my coverage of the situation in Connecticut on GlassBYTES.comóone person expressed to me that he felt I had not been fair to the Board members who were lambasted by certain members of the audience and cast in a bad light because of their association with the replacement industry. 

I also learned that the divide between those who practice repair and those who practice replacement is not as wide, nor as sharp, as I first thought. Just from sitting and listening to the question and answer periods in the seminars at the IGA convention I realized that there are more members of both the repair and replacement sides of the industry who want to bring the two sides together and function as one strong team.

What else did I learn at the IGA show? I learned that the independents feel that they are being squeezed from all sides when it comes to pricing, and that short-pays are more the rule than the exception. I learned that the NAGS/Chicago Auto Glass pricing situation is not only very important and heated topic, but a complicated one as well. And I learned to pack extra film when I travel because film at the hotel gift shop costs $12.

Most importantly, I learned that I have a lot to learn about the industry, but that almost everyone involved in the industry is nice enough to want to help me learn. I may still be behind on the learning curve right now, but I feel like Iím learning in leaps and bounds.

AGRR

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