Volume 10, Issue 2 - March/April 2008

AGR Reports
breaking news powered by glassBYTEs.com™

COMPANY NEWS
Recall of Glass Parts Expands

In December, Safelite Auto Glass/Belron US in Columbus, Ohio, issued a voluntary recall for several parts included in DOT 430, which are believed to have been manufactured by Hangzhou Safety Glazing Ltd. in Hangzhou City, China, and were supplied to Safelite by Auto Temp Inc. (ATI) in Batavia, Ohio.

Seventeen part numbers were included in the original Safelite recall. Visit www.glassBYTEs.com™ for the full list.

The glass, which has been sold for use on certain domestic and foreign vehicles, may not break into small pieces as expected of tempered glass and fails to conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 205, according to information from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA also notes that in the event of a vehicle crash, the occupants of a vehicle utilizing this glass may be seriously injured by shattered glass. Potentially, 1,657 vehicles may be affected.

The problem with the glass was discovered when a Safelite technician noted that the rear window of a Dodge Ram pickup on which he was working shattered during the installation process, and, rather than breaking into small pieces, as would be expected, broke into larger pieces.

ATI purchased its lot of the products from Wholesale Automotive Glass in Paterson, N.J.

While Safelite’s recall was issued on December 17, as of press time ATI had not recalled the product.

At the recent National Auto Glass Conference in Tucson, Ariz., Belron US chief operating officer Rich Harrison noted his main concern is that the product is still in the marketplace and at that time only Safelite had issued a recall.

“We’ve recently proactively taken a step to recall certain products from DOT 430,” said Harrison. “Our view and concern in the industry is that there’s glass in the marketplace right now that came through the same chain that hasn’t been recalled.”

Just before press time, Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries announced that one of its suppliers, Polymer Process Development LLC (PPD) in Clinton Township, Mich., also had filed a formal recall with NHTSA for part number FB020415 ZPY from DOT 430 and DOT 628. Hebei Tonyong Glass holds DOT 628. At press time, officials at neither PPG nor PPD could be reached for information, and NHTSA had not yet posted information about the recall on its site.

Numerous calls to Wholesale and even a visit to the company’s facility by AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™ to obtain a comment have been unsuccessful.

ATI spokesperson Josh Hammond of Northlich, a public relations firm, has not been able to comment on whether Auto Temp has discovered an issue with the parts, citing legal and competitive reasons for not revealing this information. 

“For legal and competitive reasons, we are unable to comment on any of our customer and vendor relationships,” reads the statement issued to AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™.He also declined to comment on whether the parts were distributed to other shops or wholesalers. However, AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com has received reports from readers who also purchased glass from DOT 430, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, that they were advised by ATI to quarantine the parts.

The 573 report filed by Safelite by NHTSA when issuing the recall notes that when the issue was discovered, Safelite reported the issue to ATI, who in turn tested the products. To date, ATI also has declined to comment on what was found in the testing.

Safelite notified its retail customers and has said it will replace the glass free of charge. It also is notifying its wholesale customers and will reimburse for current inventory and will replace already-installed glass “at a specified rate,” according to NHTSA.Likewise, Safelite spokesperson Jenny Cain has advised that the company wasn’t aware that ATI had purchased the parts from Hangzhou, and will no longer accept any parts manufactured by the company.

“We were not made aware that ATI was sourcing these parts from Hangzhou Safety Glass Ltd. (DOT 430),” she says. “Upon discovering the defects in the glass, and out of an abundance of caution, we promptly notified all glass suppliers that, until further notice, we will not accept any Hangzhou glass.”

Cain adds that glass that Safelite manufactures itself at its Enfield, N.C., plant, endures extensive testing to ensure it is compliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 205.“With respect to glass we source from third parties, we expect and require all of our suppliers to comply with all relevant federal, state and local safety standards, including FMVSS 205,” she says. “To the extent they do not, we reserve the right to seek reimbursement for any damages we incur.”In January, Hangzhou representative and senior engineer Alvin Shi advised that the company does not supply Wholesale and that at that time, it had not been made aware of a recall.

“We have never [had a glass] recall glass in [the] market, and we hold the DOT 430, and we have not suppl[ied] WGA,” Shi said. However, Shi has not responded to more recent inquiries as to whether it has since been notified of the recall.

DOL Files Suit Against New Mexico Auto Glass Shop
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has filed a suit against a Touch of Glass Enterprises Inc. for withholding payment of minimum wage and/or overtime compensation allegedly due to employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, Albuquerque Division, and also named the company’s president, Emily Gordon, and vice president, Emerald Duquette, as defendants.

The company and its leaders are charged with paying its employees at rates less than the minimum hourly rated required by the FLSA and with requiring employees “in an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce” to work more than 40 hours a week “without compensating such employees for their employment in excess of 40 hours per week at rates not less than one and one-half times the regular rates at which they were employed,” according to court documents.

In addition, the DOL alleges that the company failed to keep accurate records of how many hours employees worked each day and the total each week.

The plaintiff is seeking that liquidated damages equal in amount to the unpaid compensation be provided to the affected employees and that pre-judgment interest also be computed at the underpayment rate established by the Secretary of the Treasury, according to the complaint.

Richard Fritz Inc. to Build Factory in Duncan, S.C.
Richard Fritz Inc., a Germany-based auto glass encapsulation, rubber and plastic mouldings manufacturer, has announced that it is building a $6 million facility in Duncan, S.C., according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce. The factory will employ 63.The company will produce encapsulated auto glass at its Duncan facility. Worldwide, Fritz is a supplier to Land Rover, Porsche, GM, Audi, Lamborghini, Saab, Ford, Mercedes, Daimler, Volkswagen and Audi. 

ASSOCIATION NEWS
IGA Auto Glass Technician Certification Program Opens
The Independent Glass Association (IGA) has begun administering its Auto Glass Technician Certification Exam after four years of development. The program, which is registered by the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) Council, is primarily an online program, allowing technicians to review course materials and take course exams at their own pace and requires annual renewal courses to fulfill continuing education requirements. 

“The IGA is dedicated to promoting safe and proper glass services for consumers,” says IGA president Dave Zoldowski. “In order for the IGA to fully achieve that promise, we need to provide our membership with educational opportunities that give them the resources and skills necessary to meet our high standards. This certification program is a good way for us to meet that goal.” 

At the beginning of November at the group’s Fall Conference in Las Vegas, IGA awarded Bob Beranek of Automotive Glass Experts Corp in Sun Prairie, Wis., Russell Poore of Justice-Shamrock Glass in Lexington, Ky., and Travis Crebs of Techna-Glass in Sandy, Utah, plaques and certification patches for passing the certification’s beta test and assisting in the program’s development. www.iga.org

TCG Launches Windshields.com
Burnaby, British Columbia-based TCG International has launched a new consumer website for auto glass referrals, www.windshields.com. According to windshields.com marketing manager Doug Young, the company purchased the domain name in the early 1990s and began working on the referral site about a year ago.

Currently the site, which went live on November 30, has about 250 shops signed on and is looking to grow these numbers. While TCG, which also is the parent company of Speedy Auto Glass, Novus Windshield Repair and Shat R Proof Corp., automatically will include all its Speedy and Novus locations on the site, Young notes that the site is designed for the entire industry.

“This is really not designed to promote Speedy or Novus, but to bring the industry and the consumer together,” he says. “We’re seeing more and more people going to the web.” www.windshields.com

INFORMATION
AGRR Magazine Launches Digital Edition
AGRR magazine will now be offered in a digital version, in addition to a printed one. Readers may now receive a full copy of each magazine in their in-boxes as it goes to press. The digital version includes a searchable index and full download and single forwarding capabilities. Digital subscriptions are free to those in the industry. It is especially helpful for those outside the United States.

“We see the digital editions as an adjunct to our print product, not a replacement,” says Key vice president Holly Biller, who spearheaded the new services. “Part of our audience is on the road, or in places where it’s difficult for mail to reach easily and the digital editions will enable these readers to easily keep up with the industry.” www.agrr-digital.com or www.agrrmag.com/digitalsub.php 


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