Volume 9, Issue 3 - June/July 2007

AGR Reports
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LEGAL
DT and Belron Reach Settlement

Kingston, Pa.-based Diamond Triumph and Columbus, Ohio-based Belron US (formerly Safelite Glass Corp.) reached a settlement on June 12, five years after Diamond Triumph filed the suit, which originally focused on steering. Details of the settlement have not been released.

The official “Joint Motion for Dismissal of All Claims,” issued in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on June 12, reads as follows: “In support of this motion, the parties state that they have reached an amicable settlement and resolution of all claims including, but not limited to, those claims dismissed by reason of this Court’s order on summary judgment dated July 31, 2006.”

A pre-trial hearing had been scheduled for June 22, 2007. Bill Cogswell, president of Diamond Triumph, however, noted that the two have been working toward a settlement for quite some time. 

“Timing is coincidental,” Cogswell said.

Both companies say they now plan to focus on industry safety and discontinuing the practice of providing incentives to insurance agents.

“I think both [chief executive officers] have committed to work proactively to address such industry issues as auto glass shop incentives, paid-for auto glass insurance referrals, and that is something that Belron in particular feels is an inappropriate activity by various glass shops and we would like to see it addressed and stopped,” said Mark Smolik, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for Belron US.

As for specific plans to work together on this effort, there is nothing in place at this time. “The only specific plans are to continue to do the things we both have in place, by hiring the right people, making sure our techs are trained properly both in terms of auto glass installation and urethane use, and continue with an endeavor to get the entire industry to focus on the safety aspects of our business,” Cogswell said.

When asked if steering, the original focus of the suit Diamond Triumph filed in 2002, is still a concern for the company, Cogswell declined to comment.

The Columbus Business First website reported on June 13 that the details of the settlement included a specification that Diamond Triumph would buy a certain amount of glass from Belron US over the next five years, but neither Cogswell nor Smolik would confirm this.

As the two companies return to business sans lawsuits, many in the industry are talking about what the end of the 5-year long suit could mean for independents and others in the industry.

Larry Diesbach of Bachman Auto Glass in Phoenix said he is most concerned with the ramifications that could result if Diamond Triumph agreed to purchase an unspecified amount of glass from Belron US over the next five years as speculated. 

“I think that it will impact the wholesale industry more than retail,” said Diesbach. “ … [Diamond Triumph] will stop buying from its now number-one choice and will go to SGC to get its buyouts. Very smart move on behalf of Belron. This will gain [the company] more market share and will increase [its] buying power.”

Ian Graham of Windshield Solutions in Cloverdale, Va., notes the focus on insurance incentives is what has alarmed him about the settlement. “With the steep discounts given to insurance companies nowadays and the NAGS rebalance I don’t see how anyone, even the big boys, can afford to give any incentives for referrals,” Graham said.

SAFETY
Industry Reacts to Roof Standard
As the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has decided to delay finalization on revised, stricter roof crush resistance standards until September 2007, several safety proponents in the glass industry took time out to tell AGRR magazine what impact, if any, the new guidelines may have on the auto glass industry. 

Carl Tompkins, Western sales manager for the Madison Heights, Mich.-based Sika Corp. and chair of the AGRSS credentialing committee, doesn’t believe the standard, which will be an update of Federal Motor Vehicle Standard 216 (FMVS 216), will have any effect on the industry because it doesn’t apply to aftermarket products. 

“They don’t give [aftermarket replacement companies] anything you can measure to in 216,” Tompkins says. “The variable is the fact that each car is different, each car has different structural components … the size of the glass [varies]. All of this comes into play with FMVS 216 and there’s no specific number that fits all [aftermarket applications].”

“They’d have to test every car with every system and urethane,” Tompkins says, in order for the aftermarket industry to be able to follow the standards in FMVS 216. However, Tompkins, who has been involved with the AGRSS standard since its inception, added that no matter what sector of the industry the standard affects, it’s still of value to the automotive industry as a whole. “Anything that NHTSA does to improve safety is good,” he says. 

Mark Rizzi, owner of ACR Glass in Alliance, Neb., agreed—but noted that it’s up to the glass industry to take it upon themselves to try to meet the same standards as the original-equipment manufacturers. 

“The new standard may not make a heck of a lot of difference unless it addresses the aftermarket, or we start paying attention to what the OEMs are doing,”

Dale Malcolm, technical manager for Dow Automotive in Dayton, Ohio, says he only sees the standard playing a role on the marketing side of the business for glass shops. “I think it comes down to if the glass companies are able to use it in their marketing plan, then the adhesive companies will step up and give the companies what they’re looking for,” Malcolm says. www.nhtsa.dot.gov

SRP Forms Sales Agreement with NSI
Shat R Proof (SRP) in Savage, Minn., recently announced that it entered into a formal sales representation agreement with National Sales Inc. (NSI) of Canada to sell the SRP product line of auto glass adhesive and accessories.

“I am happy to announce that effective March 17, 2007, we have entered into a formal agreement with Toronto-based National Sales Inc.,” says SRP senior vice president Keith Beveridge. “We are excited to expand our coverage with 22 professional sales representatives covering all provinces. NSI is an experienced sales representation firm with broad expertise in the automotive aftermarket industry.” www.shatrproof.com 

EVENTS
Pittsburgh Steeler Rocky Bleier to Give Keynote Speech at AGRSS Conference
Rocky Bleier, former running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers and four-time Super Bowl winner, will be present the keynote speech at the third annual AGRSS Conference, scheduled this year for October 31–November 1, 2007, at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center in Las Vegas. 

Bleier was drafted for the Vietnam War while in his first year playing for the Steelers and returned with injuries to his legs from both rifle fire and grenade shrapnel. 

Bleier’s appearance at the event is co-sponsored by Glass America and PPG Auto Glass, and he will be available for a private meet-and-greet session with AGRSS-registered companies prior to the keynote speech, Wednesday, October 31, at 8:30 a.m.

“We are delighted to have Rocky Bleier join us for the keynote speech this year,” says Cindy Ketcherside, chairperson of the AGRSS Council. “He joins the growing list of distinguished speakers who can and will help inspire our registered members to continue the campaign of safe and quality installations, even when it may seem that the industry isn’t making any headway with consumers.”

Mygrant Holds Product Fair
Mygrant Glass held its Second Annual Product Fair on June 22, 2007, in Norcross, Ga., at Mygrant’s Atlanta location. The event included a display of a range of products, including products from Equalizer Tools, Carlite, Delta Kits, Gold Glass Group, Perfec Trim, A.N. Designs, C.R. Laurence Co. Inc. and Reid Manufacturing. 

AGRSS Introduces Consumer-Oriented Program
The Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards Council (AGRSS) has announced the creation of its Consumer Awareness Program (CAP), designed to educate the general public about the importance of safety in auto glass replacement. AGRSS is hoping to bring together AGRSS-registered companies that are centrally located either under existing or new state associations and to identify target communities and how to reach them. In addition, Carl Tompkins, chair of the AGRSS credentialing committee, has added presentations about CAP to his available AGRSS presentations. The Council soon will be offering brochures about the consumer program as well.  www.agrss.com 

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