Hurricanes Affect Windshield Repair Industry
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita affected the auto glass industry across the board, treating windshield repair and replacement companies alike—wreaking as much havoc on the business and lives of these companies as much as any one else unlucky enough to be in the way when the hurricanes, categories 4 and 3, respectively, made landfall.
Dave Casey, president of SuperGlass Windshield Repair Inc., Orlando, Fla., reports that the company’s New Orleans franchise is relocating.
“Our location in New Orleans was out of business just like everyone else,” he explains.
“Once we saw the total devastation to his city, we awarded Ron Anderson a new franchise in Austin, Tex. His crew was happy to relocate and they are working for our franchise in Houston while we prepare Austin for an opening in October.”
Casey reports that he put a notice of the New Orleans manager’s predicament on the SuperGlass Forum bulletin board and raised over $2,600 from fellow franchisees in a two-week period.
“I imagine we will be back in New Orleans again someday, but I doubt if the city will be ready for a year or more. When the city is ready, we will be too,” says Casey.
Delta Kits, headquartered in Eugene, Ore., and Glas-Weld Systems, Inc. of Bend, Ore. are two companies that set up relief efforts.
Delta Kits, Inc. donated 5 percent of its September sales to the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort.
“By pledging five percent of our sales to the people devastated by Hurricane Katrina, we hope to make it easy for our customers to aid in the relief effort. We have a lot of customers and distributors in the area that have helped us grow over the years and this is a way to give a little bit back to those communities. I hope that many of our colleagues in the windshield repair industry will join us. Our industry may be small, but together we can make a big difference,” stated Jeff Higgins, vice president of Delta Kits, Inc.
Glas-Weld announced that it would donate 20 percent of its glass and scratch repair kit sales for the first 30 days after the disaster to the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Hurricane Disaster Fund, which directly benefits firefighters and their families who have been displaced from their homes.
“As a company, we feel a strong social responsibility to help those in need,” said Mike Boyle, president of Glas-Weld Systems, Inc. “One of our key customers is a firefighter in Louisiana, and we heard from him first-hand about the devastation—and the efforts that emergency personnel were making to help.”
He continued, “Firefighters and emergency services personnel provide such selfless action in times of national disaster that we felt this IAFF fund was a cause that could really make a difference.”
ROLAGS Meetings Continue
The Repair of Laminated Auto Glass Standards (ROLAGS) Committee continues to meet to establish a standard for the repair of laminated auto glass. At the group’s August meeting, the focus was on performance requirements for windshield repair, particularly covering the chemicals—including resins—used in windshield repair.
The committee also reviewed and revised the Standard’s requirements for training.
The group was next scheduled to meet at the Rio Hotel before the AGRSS Conference in Las Vegas on Saturday, October 15 to continue its work.
New Association Forming
Some manufacturing members of the windshield repair industry are looking to form an association, the mission of which is described as “to raise repair ratios, quality standards and promote the ethical and financial well-being of our industry.”
The effort, spearheaded by Mike Boyle of Glas-Weld, has been in discussion for more than a year and was broached at the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) meeting in Minneapolis, Minn., in May.
At that time, the decision was made to create an NWRA manufacturer’s subcommittee to address concerns and issues related directly to the manufacturing aspect of the repair industry.
“We want to respond directly to our client base in a different way than the NWRA. I think both can exist,” said Boyle, adding that the new association will include a focus on the technical aspect of windshield repair and that he hopes the new association will be able to contribute to the NWRA.
According to Boyle, five windshield repair manufacturing companies are currently on board with the idea of a new association. Boyle said he contacted all the major windshield repair manufacturers about participating in the new association, but that all manufacturers are welcome, even those not contacted.
“You always want to keep your options open. I want to see what’s going to happen. It would be nice [for the new association] to work in conjunction with the NWRA, or maybe we need a whole new direction and maybe this is the way to do it,” said Henri Goudsmit, division manager at AEGIS Tools International, one of the manufacturing companies that is supporting the new effort.
The NWRA has not taken a position regarding the formation of the new association.
Glas-Weld Forms Joint Venture with Optic-Kleer Glas-Weld Systems is finishing up the details of a new joint venture, Optic-Kleer USA, with the European repair-only company of the same name.
Mike Boyle, president of the Portland, Ore., based company, explained that work had been on-going on the new venture, and at its Glas-Weld meeting in September, the focus was on the changing repair market with an examination of the European model and how it would work here.
“We have a very big, good operation in the UK. It and Optic-Kleer are the two leading repair-only companies in Europe, so I wanted to take the best from both of these operations and bring that model to the U.S. to raise the standard of auto glass repair,” he told AGRR magazine.
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