Volume 9, Issue 5 - October 2007

Feeling Minnesota 
AGRSS Holds First-Ever 
Consumer Education Program in Rochester, Minn. 
by Penny Stacey 

Insurance agents and local dignitaries came together at the Rochester International Convention Center in Rochester, Minn., on August 8 to learn about auto glass safety from several members of the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) Council, the Minnesota Glass Association (MGA) and other industry members. While many insurance agents who came out received continuing education credits for their participation, many of them, along with the locals who attended, came purely for education; some of those in attendance were local politicians, such as Sen. David Senjem and Rep. Kim Norton. In a group totaling more than 150, also present were several members of the Rochester City Council, the Olmstead County Commissioners, Paul Wilson and Dave Perkins, and Rochester Chamber of Commerce vice president John Eckerman.

The day was divided into two segments; the morning focused on the insurance agent community, while the afternoon provided information for the local politicians and dignitaries.

Insurance Talk
Mike Schmaltz, executive director of the MGA, opened the daylong event. 

“We promote consumer awareness, and it is in keeping with that that we have joined AGRSS in putting together this program,” Schmaltz said. “We share safe installations as our primary goal.”

Carl Tompkins, western sales manager for the Sika Corp. and chair of the AGRSS credentialing committee, then took the podium to share several tips with agents on making certain their policyholders are receiving safe installations.

First, he advised them to make sure that the glass shops in their areas (and those their policyholders wish to use) employ certified technicians.

“... [U]se shops that can show you in writing that their techs are trained and certified,” Tompkins said. 

Next, he advised agents to make certain glass shops are conducting pre-inspections of the vehicles on which they work.

“If there’s anything wrong with the car, the insurance industry and AGRSS want that glass shop to tell the customer about it,” he added.

Jon Fransway, brother of Jeanne Fransway, who was killed in 1999 after the windshield of the car she was driving in wasn’t properly secured, also spoke. Jon works as a State Farm agent in Minnesota and shared his story with attendees. 

“It’s not the people who are here today that I’m worried about—it’s the people who aren’t here,” he said. “We really need to make a difference and we need to endorse things that make a difference.” 

That afternoon, attendees ventured outside for demonstrations by Mitch Becker of ABRA Auto Body & Glass and Kyle Stevers of the Minnesota State Patrol. Becker provided a brief overview of airbag safety, and then conducted a demonstration of an airbag activation.

Stevers provided a rollover demo, showing how bodies in a vehicle react, both belted and seatbelted in a rollover situation. He reminded the group that if one person in a vehicle doesn’t wear a seatbelt, that person is endangering the others in the vehicle—as likely he will roll around the vehicle in the event of a rollover and may strike the others in the car. 

Q & A
After hearing the many discussions of auto glass installation safety, many audience members had questions.

One of these was, “How do you know if a used car is safe?” 

Bob Beranek, president of Automotive Glass Consultants and chair of the AGRSS auditing committee, advised that unfortunately you can’t always tell. 

“The only assurance you have is to have it re-done by a respectable glass shop,” he said. 

Another question was one that came up at the recent Independents’ Days Conference—who should be responsible for rust or corrosion when it’s discovered? (See page 32 for an in-depth look at this issue.)

“There’s a good chance [the shop] may look to the insurance company, who recommended the [previous] glass shop,” Beranek said. “Many times it’s been caused by a previous install.” Tompkins added, “Nothing sticks to corrosion.” 

Cindy Ketcherside, president of JC Glass in Phoenix and chair of the AGRSS Council, also reminded the audience that rust and corrosion are safety issues.

“Not only do you have the problem on the corrosion end of it, you have the problem of saving a life,” she said. 

Another agent was concerned about how to handle rock chips. After explaining some tips for making sure the repair is done in a timely manner, Beranek requested that agents keep in mind that when their customers’ windshields are repaired, the chip still may be visible. 

“Please don’t over-promise,” Beranek said. “Depending on the type of chip, it will still be visible to the customer.” 

Local Legends
After a networking lunch to give the agents in attendance a chance to ask questions and get to know some of the local shops and speakers who were also in attendance, they headed back to work, while the organizers of the day’s events prepped for an afternoon of more education. The afternoon’s event was focused on providing consumer education that those in attendance could share with their constituents. 

Tompkins recited words spoken by consumer advocate Ralph Nader at the 2005 AGRSS Conference when explaining why the group chose to launch its Consumer Awareness Program (CAP).

“Ralph Nader said something we’ve never forgotten, ‘You will never … make a difference if you don’t bring your message to each community,’“ he said. 

The group focused on explaining the liability involved in windshield installations and the cost that is incurred when a windshield isn’t installed correctly.

“AGRSS is here to stay, AGRSS is here to serve and it’s here to make a difference in your life today,” Tompkins told the audience. 

Ketcherside also took the stage to explain what kind of assistance the group in attendance could provide with this cause.

“The people you serve, they don’t know [that the windshield is a safety device],” she said. “You’re the ones that are going to be there … holding them, watching the tears, because a safety device didn’t work.” 

Looking to the Future
Overall, Schmaltz, who spearheaded the event, said it was successful.

“A lot of hard work on the part of AGRSS leadership, local glass partners and the Minnesota Glass Association made this event a success,” Schmaltz said. “Our goal was to increase community awareness with the CAP program—we did that. Rochester citizens will be safer as a result of the work that went into the program.”

Schmaltz added, however, that his many visits with Rochester locals prior to the event were helpful as well.

“We tend to focus on the activities that occurred on the day of the event; standing alone, it was a success,” he said, “but you have to keep in mind the work in the weeks leading up to it, including the countless visits with agents, community leaders and government agencies; this work established the AGRSS message anew.” 

Penny Stacey is the editor of AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™.


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