Volume 10, Issue 5 - September/October 2008

ROLAGS:
One Year Later

The Standard Is
Done, but Is It Gaining
Industry Acceptance?

When the Repair of Laminated Auto Glass Standard (ROLAGS) was accepted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as an ANSI Standard in June 2007, controversy emerged over the criteria included in the Standard.

Now, just a year later, the list of companies that endorse the Standard is around 30. While the list includes such industry names as Glass America and Cindy Rowe Auto Glass and several independents, some industry officials and major players (such as Belron US) still have declined to endorse the ROLAGS Standard. Why does the disconnect between the standard’s endorsement and its actual use exist? AGRR magazine talked to several industry players in an attempt to find out.

Fearless 14?
“What we have with ROLAGS is an emerging standard that gives us procedures and processes by which we would go through the repair process— what we can repair and what we can’t repair, and, in many cases, it takes the existing repair practitioners and allows them to make decisions through training, new equipment and things like that,” says Dave Zoldowski, who serves on the ROLAGS Committee.

While Zoldowski’s company, Auto One, endorses the Standard, it does not yet utilize it as a rule in its business. Zoldowski shares the concern of many in the industry—that cracks up to 14 inches can be repaired under the Standard.

“Many companies, including ours, don’t subscribe to long-crack repair,” he says. “We don’t do it because the insurance companies don’t pay extra for it, and from a technology standpoint, the equipment we use today and the training our technicians have had don’t allow us to fix a crack that’s more than 3 to 6 inches.”

For the same reason, Belron US has not incorporated the ROLAGS Standard into its repair policy, according to David Erwin, the national repair development manager for the company.

“We are in agreement on the Standard with the exception of the longcrack repair,” he says.

Erwin says Belron currently is studying long-crack repair and its effect on a windshield’s role in a vehicle.

“Because the structural integrity of the windshield has changed over the years, we’re going to start a study and take a look at the results, and once we have that, we’ll be better situated to speak to long-crack repair,” he says. He adds, though, that otherwise Belron’s practices are very similar to what is expressed in ROLAGS.

“At this point, we have not formally incorporated the Standard into our program, but our repair standards are very much in line with ROLAGS and we feel our standards support the needs of our customers,” Erwin says.

Jacqueline Newman served as project editor for ROLAGS and chair of the marketing subcommittee and is president of Redline Inc. in Austin, Texas. Newman says the committee added an annex to the Standard last September to combat confusion over long-crack repair.

The annex explains that while the ROLAGS Standard deems cracks up to 14 inches as repairable, “in no way does ROLAGS demand or require that a technician repair any damage up to the listed maximum nor, for that matter, that ROLAGS demand that a repair technician must be able or willing to repair all types of damages.”

Newman also says that the Standard will be reviewed periodically as the ROLAGS Committee continues to meet.

Some are quick to argue, though, that ROLAGS wasn't developed due to safety issues of windshield repair—and therefore the 14-inch controversy should be moot.

“Our windshield repair technicians realize that the Standard was developed for political reasons, not because of any safety issues, consumer complaints or problems with windshield repair,” says Rich Campfield, president of Ultra Bond.

For Campfield, whose company has been a long-time advocate of longcrack repair, the Standard serves as a reference for him when working with insurers that don't necessarily support the practice.

“The ROLAGS [Standard] has made it a little easier for me to discredit Lynx and Safelite’s misleading size-of a-dollar- bill criteria ... ” Campfield opines.

Other Issues
Mike Boyle, president and chief visionary officer for GlasWeld Systems in Bend, Ore., says he sees shops not yet utilizing the Standard for many reasons.

“There are a lot of factors that determine whether a shop will embrace it,” he says. “We look at some companies that will embrace only part of it, because it affects profitability, or because there isn’t enough data to support something that they’ve never supported before.”

As a supplier, GlasWeld supports the concept of ROLAGS, but still is working to determine its stance on the details of the Standard.

“We support the concept fully, but whether or not we accept its existence as it sits today is questionable,” Boyle says. “But we’re probably working harder to evaluate the validity of the ROLAGS Standard today than ever, because we believe that if a Standard doesn’t address the issues of the industry and the consumer and safety, then maybe we should take a second look at it.”

Boyle couldn’t provide details on GlasWeld’s research into the validity of the Standard, citing proprietary reasons.

Zoldowski also feels maybe the group should look at what the Standard itself evaluates.

“I am proponent [of the fact that] … we haven’t today given the technician the tools to go out and say ‘this is a bad repair’ or ‘this is a good repair’ so it becomes in the eye of the technician, the beholder,” Zoldowski says. “Hopefully that’s where the Standard will evolve.”

What Insurers See
When and if the Standard evolves into one that measures criteria of a repair, Zoldowski believes the repair industry will have better luck in gaining the acceptance of ROLAGS from the insurance industry.

“Ultimately we’ll be able to give technicians and the insurance company a way to measurer whether a repair meets [certain] criteria,” Zoldowski says. Boyle agrees that further researchmay help the cause.

“I know the insurance companies are having an issue with supporting it, and I think they have valid reasons,” he says. “Despite the pressures to put something out there that has to be done, it should be done right … So, we’re looking at it, evaluating it now.”

“We have some of our own proprietary things that we’re doing to say, ‘hey, we said this and we supported it, but is it true?’ We’re going to continue pioneering that [effort] for the good of the industry,” Boyle adds.

The Future
In general, though, Boyle believes that the insurance industry needs to take a serious look at repair.

“We just believe that repair is not fully understood and, therefore, insurance companies aren’t prepared to pay what it’s worth, and glass shops aren’t prepared to invest in making it a valuable part of their business, and that has to change,” Boyle says.

Steve Shaw of LYNX Services serves on the ROLAGS Committee. He expects that once the industry gains an awareness of the Standard, the insurance industry will too.

“I’m not sure there’s a lot of awareness of it [on the part of insurers] yet,” Shaw says, adding that this likely won't grow “until it gets more awareness within the repair community and the extended world of auto glass.”

While the Standard is still somewhat new and many are deciding how to utilize it in its current form, as Newman mentioned, it will be reviewed periodically. Erwin also seems confident that the review may make the Standard one Belron can accept eventually.

“Only time will tell [where the Standard is headed],” Erwin says. “The Standard is evolving and it’s a living document. We’re very optimistic that in the future, we will be able to formally endorse the Standard.”

As the Standard evolves, the ROLAGS committee also is taking on some additional work, such as the development of a product performance standard, which would cover the testing of windshield repair products. In addition, a marketing subcommittee also has been formed.

“Their task is to develop a marketing plan for ROLAGS,” says Newman, who recently stepped down as marketing chair and turned the post over to Boyle. “At its meeting in February, the marketing committee decided that it must spread the word about the Standard to its own industry, to the insurers, to the public and to any government agencies that are affected.”

“After all, if the repair industry does not support its own Standard, then it follows that the insurers and public cannot be asked to do so either,” she adds.



AGRR
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