Volume 9, Issue 6 - November/December 2007
Export of glass products from China has increased by 27.49 percent for the first half of the year, according to reports from China Knowledge. In the United States, an average of 131,036,348 units of laminated safety glass for vehicular use have been imported from April 2007 through August 2007 of this year.
On average, 13,284,517 of these per month have been from China—for an average of 10.1 percent of the total imports for laminated safety glass for vehicular use, according to data from USA Trade Online. From April to August, imports from China increased from 10,136,320 units to 13,239,808 units—a 30.6-percent increase (see chart below).
For safety glass (tempered or laminated), an average of 59,014,032 units have been imported from April 2007 through August 2007 of this year, and on average, 200,057 of these per month have been from China—for an average of .3 percent of the total imports for safety glass (tempered or laminated), according to USA Trade Online. From April to August, imports from China increased from 59,186,380 units to 61,449,799 units—a 3.82-percent increase (see chart below). (Editor’s note: USA Trade Online does not provide import/export numbers for tempered glass parts for vehicles, specifically.)
While the numbers show that the use of glass from China is increasing in the United States, some distributors, such as AG Distributors in Boise, Idaho, have shied away from importing glass from China in recent years. “About five years ago, we changed the model of our company and we did everything we could to distance ourselves from Chinese glass,” says Steve Theisen, a managing partner with the company. “We now focus on a higher end primarily domestic product.”
He says at one time the company actually imported a good deal of glass from China—but saw a major increase in issues with the glass, particularly for tempered parts.
“Back in the day when I was buying a lot of [glass from China], probably more than 50 percent of the tempered was problematic. You name it, it was wrong,” he says. “[There were] slight distortions in the glass, [it was] cut wrong, drilled wrong, marked one side when it was really the other side. It got to the point whenever we’d pull one off the shelf, we were scared to death to ship it.”
Causing even more issues with this was the fact that the company wouldn’t know if there was a problem with the glass until one of the shops it services tried to install it. “There was no way for us to know if it was bent wrong or cut wrong until the customer told us, so the majority of the glass we brought ended up in a dumpster,” he says. “It becomes expensive, not only in a monetary way, but you might lose a customer.”
Despite the issues Theisen encountered when importing glass from China, many still import—as is seen in the aforementioned numbers.
Dale Dues, a representative for Discount Auto Glass in
Little Rock, Ark., says he continues to import and hasn’t had any
problems out of the ordinary with glass from China “Do I ever get a bad
glass? Yes, but that happens with everyone,” he says. Discount has been
in the business and has been importing glass from China since 1999.
Import Glass Completes 2-Year Expansion
Import Glass Corp. has completed an expansion of its distribution center and corporate headquarters in City of Industry, Calif. The expansion was designed to streamline the company’s operations, improve efficiency and help facilitate future growth, according to company vice president Ramon Gonzalez Jr.
The facility was enlarged by 20,000 square feet over the last two years, according to Jorge Gonzalez. “Parts are stored more easily and can be accessed more easily and delivered more quickly,” he says.
Glass America Opens Two New Locations
Glass America in Chicago has purchased two new stores, one in Lindenhurst, N.Y., and a brand-new physical location in Huntington, W.Va. The Lindenhurst store, located near Long Island, was originally called South Shore Glass, and will be managed by Mike Chiavola, the previous owner.
The other new location in Huntington is the company’s first in the state of West Virginia—and is actually a brand-new store. The store will be run by manager Pam McComas.
Ken Pemberton has signed on as sales manager, and Jeremy Marcum as auto glass technician. All three new employees, McComas, Pemberton and Marcum, previously worked with Safelite’s Huntington location.
CS Automobile Glass will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xinyi Glass. The total consideration for the acquisition is approximately $30.92 million (USD) in cash, which will be financed by internal resources of the group. “The acquisition agreement will allow us to immediately expand production scale for automobile glass,” says Lee Yin Yee, chairman of Xinyi Glass. “Our leadership in the global automobile glass market will also be strengthened as our customer base and share in the export market will be enlarged through eliminating a competitor.
The acquisition will see our automobile glass business grow at increasing speed.” K U D O S
Auto Glass Tech Solves Hit-and-Run Case
He called the police, who were able to locate the vehicle and bring it in for testing and confirm that it was involved in the accident. While the driver told police he had hit a deer, Lester says the vehicle owner didn’t tell him anything about the damage— and he didn’t ask.
“The guy was really nervous,” Lester says. “He had the vehicle covered underneath a tarp behind his house … It was cold, and he was in his pajamas wrapped up in a blanket. He wouldn’t leave me alone. He sat there and stared at me the whole time.”
Lester says when he heard the radio reports about the hit-and-run, he remembered the incident—and the fact that the vehicle owner lived near the accident scene.
He also noted some other suspicions about the vehicle itself. “I smelled booze inside the vehicle— that stale smell,” he says. The victim, Lucas Peerenboom, 20, was struck on March 10 and later died. Romero-Ocotl called Lester’s shop the next day for a quote and the work was done on March 14. Once Lester heard of the hit-and-run and remembered the incident in early April, he called his shop and had his secretary gather all the information about the questionable vehicle and its owner.
“When I heard it on the radio, almost a month later, it struck me, and everything matched up,” he says. Lester adds that since the report—and his name has appeared in several news stories about the incident—he has seen a lag in some parts of business (but did note an increase in dealership work). He’s still glad he called, though, despite this.
“We respect the privacy of our customers and such,” he says, “but when someone dies, and it’s a kid, you’ve got to step up.”
While Romero-Ocotl has been charged, police have not been able to locate him since they originally detained his vehicle on April 19, according to reports from the Capital Times.
Safelite Unveils Murals at Headquarters
Safelite AutoGlass unveiled a mural at its corporate headquarters on the northwest rim of I-270, just east of the Sawmill Road exit.
The mural, created by Orange Barrel Media, showcases the company’s history in photos since 1947.
It encompasses 8,981 square feet and could be seen from an airplane. The graphic is designed to demonstrate the company’s pride at calling Columbus its U.S. headquarters as it celebrates its 60th anniversary, according to a release issued by the company.
“Safelite has been proud to call Columbus home for nearly 20 years and we now have more than 1,500 employees in Central Ohio alone,” says Dan Wilson, president and chief executive officer of Belron US, of which Safelite is a part. “We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past 60 years and are looking forward to our growth continuing to accelerate.”
Following a review of its branding strategy, Nippon Sheet Glass (NSG) Group has decided to adopt the “Pilkington” brand for its global flat glass business (which includes its automotive glass business).
“In the new NSG Group, flat glass now accounts for around 85 percent of our global operations, with manufacturing in 27 countries worldwide and sales in over 130,” says NSG chairperson Yozo Izuhara. “We aim to present a single face to all our customers in both building products and automotive—and that means adopting a single global brand for all our markets in those sectors. “Since the acquisition in June 2006, we have made good progress in integrating our businesses. In parallel, we conducted a major review of our branding. Research showed that the ‘Pilkington’ brand has very good recognition worldwide and a high reputation for innovative products and good customer service,” he says. “To ensure that this commercial advantage is fully exploited globally, NSG has taken the decision to use the ‘Pilkington’ brand for all of the Group’s Flat Glass operations.
Ownership of the Pilkington brand was an important element of our acquisition strategy and we intend to make effective use of it.” A new logo has been developed for the NSG Group Flat Glass businesses (building products and automotive) in all markets worldwide, except in Japan where a Japanese language version.
The changes to the logo come following a study undertaken for the NSG board by Wolff Olins/Hakuhodo, which included a survey of global brand awareness in the glass industry.
These changes will take effect immediately, with the new branding being progressively introduced into the company’s operations worldwide in the coming months.
As for what this might mean for the industry, some believe it will have little to no effect.
“I don’t believe the vast majority of consumers have any clue who Pilkington is and who owns them and what that means,” says Neil Duffy of Auto Glass Menders in San Jose, Calif. “It is sort of a black-and-white market at present. There are those who want the ‘same glass as what is now in it’ and that means it has to look the same and say the same thing.”
“We could not be more pleased about this arrangement since it complements our core business so well,” says Keith Beveridge, senior vice president of SRP.
Trevor Lock, director of BTB Automotive Pty. Ltd., the parent company of BTB Auto Glass and Body Shop Tools, echoes Beveridge.
“We have been looking for a way to invigorate sales in North America for a number of years. It has been difficult with a majority of our staff located halfway around the world and only a small presence in North America.”
SRP will continue to supply products and technical services to existing BTB Tool distributors and customers in North America.
The show had more than 40 exhibitors and a variety of seminars designed specially for auto glass shops. Debra Levy, publisher of AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com, discussed “Hot Topics in the Auto Glass Business,” including the emergence of Belron as a super-power and its branding efforts, the latest legislation to affect auto glass shops and the latest on the Auto Glass Replacement Safety (AGRSS) Standard.
Noted auto glass trainer Bob Beranek, president of Auto Glass Technical Institute, also was on-hand to discuss proper auto glass installation practices. He discussed the latest technology and how to adapt to it, along with the mission of the auto glass technician, installation standards and proper procedures.
Mark Haeck of Mainstreet Computers also spoke during the event on a topic of interest to many: understanding Internet marketing. He assisted attendees with understanding how to increase their web presence and how to make sure customers can find them on the Internet.
In addition to the tailored presentations for glass shops, attendees were able to sit in on a talk from former NBA player Tim McCormick. McCormick, who now provides color analysis as a broadcaster for ESPN and ABC College Basketball, focused his motivational message on the belief that NBA stands for Never Be Average.
Wade Adams of American Eagle Auto Glass drove from Cincinnati to attend the show, and said it was time wellspent.
“The meetings were good and we got something out of it, so it’s always good to drive that far away and come away with something,” he said. He noted that of particular interest to him was the seminar on training CSRs.
“The CSR thing is what we’re working on,” he said. “Hopefully that’ll help us down the road.”
Exhibitor Bandi Hantke said the opening session by McCormick was particularly helpful to him. “Tim McCormick was incredible—very entertaining, very insightful,” he said. Exhibitors at the show said regional shows such as this one allow them an opportunity both to see current customers and meet some potential ones.
“I always consider it a good show. We always get to see some customers and pick up a few new ones,” said Mary Hester of JLM Wholesale.
Kristie Ovard, manager of Glazex in Orem, Utah, a firsttime GEMS exhibitor, said their first time there was a successful one.
“We’ve gotten one [new customer] already,” she said.
“We were excited.” Hester noted that at regional shows, she often sees a much different crowd than those at the larger events.
“I think the people who aren’t willing or able to go out to the big shows appreciate this opportunity,” she said. “I also saw tons of people going out for the educational program, too, so that’s always good to see.”