Volume 14, Issue 2 - March/April 2012

Feature

 

Certifiably Critical
The Benefits of Certification Includes Insurance Advantages
by Sahely Mukerji

While less than 10 percent of auto glass technicians in the country are certified to do their job—either by the Auto Glass Safety Council™ (AGSC, formerly the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards Council Inc.) of Glen Ellyn, Ill., the Independent Glass Association of Chandler, Ariz., or the National Windshield Repair Association of Stafford, Va., (see sidebar)—auto glass professionals say they cannot emphasize the importance of certification enough.

“Lacking the government regulation for licensing, the next best thing is to develop some kind of quantitative measurement of competence,” says Bob Beranek, president and CEO at Automotive Glass Consultants Inc. in Madison, Wis., and chairperson of AGSC Standards Committee. “So, [the AGSC] program is important for the consumer to make sure that the technician has the knowledge to do the job correctly. It’s not a measurement of skills, but knowledge.”

There are basically two kinds of certification offered by the AGSC: individual certification for technicians; company-wide certification called the Registered Company Program. The registration program is offered to auto glass shops, as opposed to individuals. Shops are audited once a year per the registered shop program by an independent auditor.

Last year, the AGSC also acquired the National Glass Association’s auto glass technician certification program (see related story
in November/December 2011 AGRR™ magazine, page 30), and both programs are now under the same umbrella.

“The [individual technician] test was never designed to measure hand skills. It validates that somebody knows right from wrong, and has the basic knowledge,” says Dale Malcolm, technical manager at Dow Automotive Systems, Aftermarket, in Dayton, Ohio, and co-chair of AGSC Education Committee. “I’d like to see the number of people taking the test to be much higher, and that’ll be a task of the committee to come up with a plan. We’d like to have a seminar on this at the Auto Glass Week™ and show them how to use the tool. People are encouraged to email questions about the test.”

“I’d like to see the number of people taking the test to be much higher, and that’ll be a task of the committee to come up with a plan. We’d like to have a seminar on this at the Auto Glass Week™ and show them how to use the tool.”
—Dale Malcolm, technical manager at Dow Automotive Systems, Aftermarket, in Dayton, Ohio, and co-chair of AGSC (formerly the AGRSS Council Inc.) Education Committee

Carl Tompkins, global marketing resources manager for Sika Corp. in Madison Heights, Mich., agrees. “First off, the aspect of certifying is a means of differentiation,” he says. “Certification validates and is important in the realm of technician training, because our industry is one that affects the safety and well-being of the public. And when lives are at stake, it’s important to make sure the technician is accountable for his work. We have a standard that provides 32 specific instructions for people to follow. That is the code to best practices.”

“Lacking the government regulation for licensing, the next best thing is to develop some kind of quantitative measurement of competence.”
—Bob Beranek,
president and CEO of Automotive Glass Consultants Inc.

It is also important for a technician to be certified “because the integrity of windshield repair is at stake,” says Kerry Wanstrath, president of National Windshield Repair Association and Glass Technology Inc. of Durango, Colo. “If consumers see poor quality repairs over and over again, their opinion of windshield repair will be one that the windshield repair is less than what it actually is capable of being. The true repair quality of the industry leaders is amazing, in my opinion. Windshield repair is so much better than what it was even 10 years ago. Companies are innovating with better methods and resin and curing technology.”

Glasspro in Charleston, S.C. “It’s an example of how seriously we take being sure that a windshield is installed correctly,” he says. “There’s no higher or more rigorous certification than the AGSC certification. We use that in conjunction with working with our urethane supplier, Dow, on helping our people continuously be trained. We have an internal training program led by Jeff Olive; he’s the training manager. It gives our whole company pride and our customers confidence.”

Registration Versus Certification

There’s more in it for a company to get registered and its technicians certified than customer commitment and validation.

Companies should look at certification as a marketing tool, says Olive, co-chair of the AGSC Education Committee. “[Individual] certification is a plus for any company to have, because it’s a great marketing tool to validate the skills of their technicians,” he says. “The AGSC program is very in-depth in that the technician has the knowledge to do a safe windshield replacement.”

“Certification validates. It is important in the realm of technician training, because our industry is one that affects the safety and well-being of the public.”
—Carl Tompkins, global marketing resources manager for Sika Corp. and former chair of Auto Glass Safety Council (formerly the AGRSS Council)


The other reason to become certified is the insurance aspect, Heinauer says. “More than 90 percent, if not more, of all insurance companies through third-party administrators say you must install to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard,” he says. “AGSC is the only certification program connected to ANSI.”

Olive agrees. “The insurance industry looks to do business with AGSC-registered companies,” he says. “Registration is a selling point that AGSC has achieved, but now the insurance companies should look for certified technicians, for the safety of the customer. AGSC-registered companies will do the installation in the proper manner that AGSC requires. Their technicians are validated through the AGRSS Standard. [However] AGSC-certified techs are a step further and each technician achieves certification.”

AGSC-registered companies and AGSC-certified technicians go hand-in-hand, Heinauer says, because “as a company owner, what comes first is having your company AGSC-registered, and then technicians [certified] within that. They’re both significant. If you had to choose one, the AGSC-registration is more encompassing and it’s done in person, by a third party, face-to-face. However, we’re very bullish about having our technicians AGSC-certified. It helps them make more and at our company, Glasspro, we tie certification to the wage scale.”

“If a technician is doing both repair and replacement, both [AGSC and NWRA] certifications are valuable and equally important”
—Kerry Wanstrath, president of National Windshield Repair Association and Glass Technology Inc. of Durango, Colo

Any person installing auto glass can become individually certified, Olive says. “It’s an individual achievement, rather than a company being a member,” he says. “Both company registration and technician certification are great marketing tools for each individual technician and company to achieve.”

When it comes to the consumer, insurance plays a part in their decision, Olive says. “When it comes to a knowledgeable consumer, they ask for both,” he says. “Possibly 30 percent of the customers have a concern about it.” When there’s low deductible in auto insurance for windshield replacement, it generates more customer calls in a certain location, he says. In states such as South Carolina, there’s no deductible applied when a glass replacement is done, so it’s covered 100 percent by the insurance company. “Those jobs come mostly through the insurance,” he says. “We find customers asking fewer questions when they have to pay cash. You need to make sure that your customer-base is aware of the AGSC-certified techs.”

“The insurance industry looks to do business with AGSC-registered companies. Registration is a selling point that AGSC has achieved, but now the insurance companies should look for certified technicians, for the safety of the customer.”
—Jeff Olive, training manager at Glasspro and co-chair of AGSC Education Committee

Some customers look at price, and other customers look for quality rather than the price, and they’ll look for AGSC-certified techs, Olive says. “You are ‘best of’ when you take safety into factor, and the safest way to get that is to get a tech that’s certified,” he says. “That would be the best choice for anyone who needs auto glass replacement … ”

Sahely Mukerji is the editor of AGRR™ magazine. She can be reached at smukerji@glass.com. Follow her on Twitter @agrrmagazine, read her blog at http://fortherecord.agrrmag.com/, and like the AGRR magazine on Facebook to receive the latest updates.


Association Certification Programs

There are several different certifications available in the market.

AGSC:
The Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC, formerly the AGRSS Council Inc.) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the safe replacement of auto glass, according to its website. AGSC was founded and is supported by companies in the auto glass replacement industry that keep safe installation as their primary goal. Though the group began as a standards-development organization, today it has its own technician certification program—acquired last August from the National Glass Association (see related story in November/December AGRR™, page 30) and a robust company registration program.

The AGSC is an ANSI standards development organization. It has developed the North America’s only auto glass replacement standard, the AGRSS Standard (ANSI/AGRSS 002-2002 Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standard). The AGRSS Standard addresses procedures, education and product performance.

It takes 45 minutes to take the individual technician test, and that includes 70-80 questions, says Dale Malcolm, technical manager at Dow Automotive Systems, Aftermarket, in Dayton, Ohio, and co-chair of AGSC Council Education Committee. “The master test has 50 questions and that may change,” he says. “If you have basic training, are going by ANSI standards, reading trade magazines, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) manuals, keeping up with the adhesive requirements, you should pass the test. Some people might struggle with some safety questions, but those are valid questions.”

“We reduced the number of repair questions, so if a technician is doing only repairs then they’d take the NWRA repair test, but if they’re doing replacement, they should do the AGSC certification,” Malcolm says.

Pricing for the test is $89 each for members and $149 each for non-members, Beranek says. You can take both tests for $178 if you’re registered with AGSC or [be a member of] NGA, says Jeff Olive, training manager at Glasspro Inc. in Charleston, S.C. and co-chair of AGSC Council Education Committee.

The AGSC registered company program is a company-wide validation program, says Debra Levy, president of AGSC. “It allows companies to have their compliance with the standard independently verified by third party independent auditors,” she says. “We’ve seen tremendous benefit to this both to the industry and the driving public. We’ve also seen shops able to reduce their insurance costs, win court cases and rely on the program in other of ways. Shop owners who’ve been through the process tell us it’s one of the best things they’ve ever done.”
www.autoglasssafetycouncil.org

IGA: The Independent Glass Association was founded in 1994 to meet and advance the needs of independently-owned glass companies throughout North America, according to its website. Membership is open to all glass companies that do not also provide claims administration services and that have less than 100 locations.

NWRA: In September 1994 a group of eight windshield repairers met in Tucson, Ariz., and founded the National Windshield Repair Association, according to its website. The founders are Richard Campfield, Jackie Newman, Paul Gross, Ed Fields, Bill Batley, David Taylor, Dave Schuh and Steve Oyer.

NWRA, glass repair certification program deals with compliance to the Repair of Laminated Auto Glass Standard (ROLAGS).

NWRA conducts certification testing online. Certification is valid for two years, and expires on the day on which you became certified.

In order to maintain certification, each person must successfully complete 1 continuing education units (CEUs) learning units during the period above. A CEU consists of 20 questions primarily in the areas of technology, political and regulatory as well as the general state of the industry. The questions are developed testing current knowledge of the windshield repair or auto glass industry. If your certification remains current, you do not need to reapply, nor do you need to take a new written or practical test. If your certification lapses, you must start over, according to the website.

“If a technician is doing both repair and replacement, both [AGSC and NWRA] certifications are valuable and equally important,” says Kerry Wanstrath, president of National Windshield Repair Association and Glass Technology Inc. of Durango, Colo. “Presently, the NWRA has the windshield repair certification approved by the NWRA for the ROLAGS standard. Since the NGA sold [its] repair program to AGSC and the NWRA picked it up (see WGR Reports on page 36) and is the processes of combining the two knowledge sets into one, there is only one Industry: windshield repair certification. Some manufacturers have their product specific training program and that is all good and fine, but we are interested in training to the industry standard ROLAGS. Right now we think we are the best equipped for that.”

“Certification and the understanding of ROLAGS ensure that the repairer has the correct knowledge to qualify and repair damaged laminated glass,” says David Casey, president of SuperGlass Windshield Repair Inc. in Orlando, Fla. “The distinction of certification can increase the level of pride in workmanship and effort towards excellence in repair and procedures.”
www.nwrassn.org

Visit www.agrrmag.com to learn about adhesive training programs.


 


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