Volume 33, Number 4, April 1998

USGAuto News - 4/98

ANSI's Newsletter Acknowledges AGRSS

The latest issue of the ANSI newsletter, Standards Action, announces the formation of a committee to develop and publish a safety standard for the installation of automobile glass. The committee, formed under the name Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standards Committee (AGRSS), has applied for accreditation as an ANSI Accredited Standards Committee. The purpose of the committee is to develop nationally recognized standards for the installation of aftermarket auto glass (See USGlass, March 1998, page 18).

Bayer, GE Plastics Complete Joint Venture

Bayer AG of Leverkusen, Germany, and GE Plastics of Pittsfield, MA, have completed a joint venture in the field of abrasion-resistant, coated polycarbonate automobile windows. The resulting company will be called Exatec™ L.L.C., with U.S. headquarters in Wixom, MI, and European headquarters in Cologne, Germany.

The two companies will combine to invest $40 million in research, technology and equipment during the next few years with the aim of developing materials, abrasion-resistant coatings and technologies to enable the use of polycarbonate windows in advanced vehicle designs, including cars, delivery vehicles, small trucks and recreational vehicles.

Standard & Poor's Rates Diamond Triumph Auto Glass

Standard & Poor's has assigned its single-‘B'-plus corporate credit and senior unsecured note ratings to Diamond Triumph Auto Glass, Inc., while Diamond's $35 million revolving credit facility received a double-‘B'-minus rating.

According to Standard & Poor's, the bank's security interest in substantially all of the company's assets offers reasonable prospects for full recovery of principal. It also emphasizes that all ratings reflect the company's aggressive financial profile and expansion strategy.

Ultra Bond Withdraws Patent Suit

Ultra Bond Licensing Corp. of Grand Junction, CO, has withdrawn its patent infringement suit against Glas-Weld Systems, Inc. of Bend, OR.

Ultra Bond says the suit was dropped because Glas-Weld's original figures for its Pro 300 and Pro 400 viscosities were in error and economics did not justify a suit. Glas-Weld defended itself on the grounds that Ultra Bond's patents invalid and improperly obtained. Glas-Weld emphasizes that it did not compensate Ultra Bond for dropping the suit, while Ultra Bond maintains the right to sue again at any time.

IGA Recommends Billing Service

The Independent Glass Association (IGA) is recommending Specialized Billing Services of America (SBSA) as the billing service of choice to its members. According to the IGA, SBSA meets its requirements for such work in that it does not steer business or subcontract only the inexpensive parts, it does not alter the insurance invoice or reimburse the subcontractor for the same amount that was billed to the insurance company.

One potential problem with the alliance is that SBSA is owned by the Birkhauser family of Madison, WI, which also owns Auto Glass Specialists— a possible conflict of interest. However, IGA says that because SBSA allows IGA to monitor its calls and the ownership and day-to-day operation of SBSA remain separate, the IGA is confident that the company will not steer insureds to certain shops.

Extractor's Distribution Growing Quickly

The Extractor, launched on the U.S. auto glass replacement market last May, has seen its distribution grow dramatically in a short time, according to its manufacturer, Crystal Glass of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. As of September 1997, the product was being distributed throughout the United States. The company says its pneumatic tool, said to reduce the chance of damage to the windshield or urethane bed by making it easier to cut the bottom bead, was developed to reduce the strain of windshield removal on the installer. With the increased use of urethane as an auto glass adhesive, developers of the Extractor created the tool for fast removal and to reduce installer injuries.

NHTSA Publishes Auto Safety Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released a list of auto safety recalls announced in December. Among other vehicles, the 1991-93 Ford Explorer was listed because the sunroof can separate while the vehicle is moving due to incorrect hinge engagement. Ford Motor Co. has informed owners of the vehicles that the removable glass may be improperly installed. To rectify this problem, the company has mailed booklets with detailed instructions for the removal, storage and reinstallation of the sunroof glass panel and a warning label to be placed on the sunroof latch knob.

Consumers Petition For More Windshield Info

Five U.S. consumer safety groups have asked the government to provide more information on the design and performance of airbags, according to a Reuters report. The report says that the consumer safety groups claim that airbags vary significantly from model to model, making it imperative that information is provided on the airbags with which each car is equipped. In the petition, the group asked for data on the crash speed that triggers deployment of the bag, the speed and force with which the airbag deploys and the angle of deployment on the passenger side.

USG

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