Volume 14, Issue 4 - July/August 2012

Feature
Tools, Camera, Action
Installers, Judges Prepare for Auto Glass Technician Olympics

by Sahely Mukerji

As Auto Glass Week™ nears, companies across the country are getting ready to participate in the Pilkington Clear Advantage Auto Glass Technician Olympics (AGTO) and the Walt Gorman Memorial Windshield Repair Olympics (WRO), slated to take place in conjunction with the Exhibition/ Extravaganza, September 21-22, in Louisville, Ky., during Auto Glass Week.

Auto Glass Week will take place at the Louisville Marriott Downtown and the Kentucky International Convention Center, September 20-22 (see related story in May/June 2012 AGRR™, page 28).

The Competitors
K-Shard Fields and Greg Hamilton, both with Glasspro in Mount Pleasant, S.C., are planning to compete in the AGTO.

“We sent the first and second places from our feeder competition last year to last year’s AGTO, and we’re sending our third and fourth places to this year’s AGTO,” says Jeff Olive, training manager of Glasspro. “The scores were so close that we thought it’d be only fair to give everybody a chance.”

Eight technicians participated in the Glasspro feeder competition; and Olive, along with Paul Heinauer, president and owner, and Dwayne Jennings, general manager, judged the contest according to AGTO regulations. “The first four were almost perfect, only separated by single points,” Olive says.

Hamilton has been a technician for 12-plus years and Fields for about seven years. “We feel very confident that they are highly qualified to compete,” Olive says. “Greg’s a returning competitor. He took second place two years ago. They’re practicing and going about doing their job according to the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS®). The AGTO should not be any different.”

Like Glasspro, Glass Doctor also will send two technicians to the AGTO this year. The company held its first feeder competition this year with four regional meets across the country January through May 1.

“In all, we had 20-30 applicants,” says Doug Dotson, vice president of franchise relations. “Frank [Levesque, technical manager and a WRO judge] and I narrowed them down to two to three in each region and picked the best two.”

“Our techs have to break 200 [points] to qualify for the AGTO,” Levesque says. “We have pre-tests and we follow the same guidelines as the Olympics. If we have a tie, the tech with the higher test score wins.” The selected two for this year’s AGTO scored the same.

“We know our best techs, but we wanted to ID them,” Dotson says. “We decided to vet it out a bit this year. It will raise the bar of the competition if every company has a feeder competition.”

Raising the bar seems to go both ways. “I like to think we’re constantly raising the standards through the competition,” Levesque says.

For its part, the competition is getting harder every year, Dotson says. “It is more than just putting in a piece of glass, it’s more about interaction,” he says. “The competition’s somewhat about showmanship. The winner will have to be not only the best professional, but be able to demonstrate it in front of his peers. It is like being on stage.”

Troy Mason, president of Techna Glass of Sandy, Utah, agrees. “The competition has gotten better every year,” he says. “I believe the simulations are getting close to real-world installations.”

At press time, Techna Glass was holding its feeder competition for the AGTO. Five technicians in four rounds were competing for the six top spots to go to the June 24 finals, Mason says. “Two from the six are picked to go to the AGTO, and we pay for their fees and travel.”

Techna Glass also is scheduled to host a feeder competition for the repair competition on June 24 and pick one technician to compete.

“Our techs want to be a part of the Olympics,” Mason says. “There are people who compete year after year. The competition raises the quality level in the whole shop. If one tech competes in a store, even in the prelims, as they practice they get the whole shop behind them.”

The techs even ask the customers to rate them, he says. “They explain the competition and ask if the customer would be okay with having a tech practice an installation on their vehicle,” Mason says. “And the customers love it. They will call me later to ask how the tech who worked on his car did in the competition. It raises the bar, it brings everybody up.”

The Judges
While the competitors prepare, the judges also look forward to the Olympics.

Olive says he is making sure that all his technicians are practicing installations correctly. “If you are practicing installing according to the AGRSS Standard, you have a big chance of winning,” he says. “The winner is a person who is true to his career and practices the AGRSS Standard. Anyone who does his job to the best of his ability each and everyday and never falters, would have an easy time at the AGTO. The tech who doesn’t do his job properly will make mistakes at the AGTO.”

That said, it’s not easy to pick a winner, Beranek says. “Every year these guys get better,” he says. “It’s a real fine line between the champion and not even placing. As judges, we have to get tougher and tougher on even the minor things. This year, we’ll even look at the way they strip out the glass and the damage that’s caused naturally. It’s truly a skill-based competition now.” To win, a technician has to know his materials and “concentrate on skill development and elimination of scratches to the car, even those that can’t be dealt with,” Beranek says. “You will have to be careful with your tool usage. Because all the installs are good, it will come down to tool usage.”

The favorite part of the competitions for Beranek is watching the new tools being used in the installations, he says. “The first couple of years we didn’t have a prize for innovation,” he says. “Now, we have a prize for the most innovative technician. Sometimes the first three winners earn that prize, but other times other techs, not winners, win that prize.”

For judge Bruce Gates, vice president of Gates Brothers Glass in Bellefontaine, Ohio, his favorite part of the competition is to “watch the techs from different parts of the country, all together, providing quality installations,” he says. “They take it very seriously. The competition has a lot to shape our industry. We now have milestones that we can achieve or look to achieve with the AGRSS Standard to guide people. The competitions give professionalism to our industry.”

Gilbert Gutierrez, vice president of Equalizer in Round Rock, Texas, and a past judge, agrees.

“It is a great way to better the industry in the eyes of the competing companies and the people who are watching,” Gutierrez says. “When you go into a competition and watch the guys installing per the standard, it opens your eyes.”

“When I started at the Auto Glass Technical Institute, my grandson was born, and I made a promise to myself to make this a better industry by the time he was able to drive,” adds Gates. “That day is two years away, and I think we are well on our way to accomplishing that. We have a lot of good guys out there trying to make the industry better, and the competitions bring out the best of the best and gives other technicians in the industry something to shoot for. We have a far more esteemed industry today than a decade ago, and the Olympics is a big reason why.”

The Logistics of the Competition
Now in its seventh year, the Pilkington Clear Advantage Auto Glass Technician Olympics (AGTO) provides the opportunity for technicians from around the world to show their installation skills. Industry veterans judge competitors’ replacements as well as their procedures, safety, cleanliness and customer interaction.

Competitors are allotted 75 minutes to complete a windshield installation in the first heats of the competitions. In the finals round, technicians are required to complete a remove and re-install of a glass part, which may or may not be a windshield. Contestants are judged on ten different sections.

To compete, a technician must be employed in a bona fide operating auto glass company, must have a least one year of experience as a technician in the auto glass industry and must complete installations in compliance with the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS®). There will be a cap on the number of contestants and spaces are given on a first-come, first-served basis. Owners or managers of supplier companies may not compete themselves.

In addition to bragging rights as the “World’s Best Auto Glass Technician,” the first-place AGTO winner will receive $10,000, a gold medal and trophy. Secondplace will receive $1,000 and a silver medal, and third will receive $500 and a bronze medal.

The first-place winner’s company will get media coverage and press releases sent on behalf of the champion’s company; use of the AGTO winner logo on stationery, business cards and advertising for one year; use of the 2012 Pilkington Clear Advantage Auto Glass Technician Olympics logo for an unlimited time; and a congratulatory ad and article on the victor and his/her company in AGRR™ magazine.

The pre-registration deadline for all contestants is July 27. No registrations will be accepted after this date. You may register online at www.autoglassweek.com.

Preparing for the Walt Gorman Memorial Windshield Repair Olympics
Auto glass companies across the world also are preparing for the Walt Gorman Memorial Windshield Repair Olympics (WRO). GlasWeld Spain (LuniaGlas) will hold a feeder competition, but did not have it scheduled yet at press time, says Lori Patch, marketing director of GlasWeld in Bend, Ore.

The WRO is designed to honor the best auto glass repair technician in the world. The competition was founded in 2006 by AGRR™ magazine.

In the competition, each technician has 45 minutes to complete a windshield repair. Judging is based on quality, rather than speed, and time is a factor only in the case of a tie. All aspects of the repair, including customer service and professionalism, are considered in the technician’s final score. The technical aspects of the competition are based on the Repair of Laminated Auto Glass Standard (ROLAGS™), and all contestants must participate in a short, ten-question test about proper windshield repair practices based on the ROLAGS.

To compete, a technician must be employed in a bona fide operating auto glass company and have at least one year of experience as a repair technician in the auto glass industry. There will be a cap on the number of contestants and spaces are given on a firstcome, first-served basis. Owners or managers of supplier companies may not compete themselves.

Increased from years’ past, the firstplace winner in the WRO will receive $10,000, a gold medal and trophy, as well as bragging rights as the “World’s Best Windshield Repair Technician.” Second place will receive $1,000 and a silver medal, and third will receive $500 and a bronze medal.

The WRO winner’s company will receive media coverage and press releases sent on behalf of the champion’s company; use of the WRO winner logo on stationery, business cards and advertising for one year; use of the 2012 Walt Gorman Memorial Windshield Repair Olympics logo for an unlimited time; and a congratulatory ad and article on the victor and his/her company in AGRR magazine.

The pre-registration deadline for all contestants is July 27. No registrations will be accepted after this date.


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