Volume 34, Number 8, August 1999

 

Industry News

Safelite Introduces Mobile Pro Program; Ignites Discussion

In an effort to provide market coverage in areas where Safelite does not have shops, the auto glass company has unveiled its Mobile Pro program. To mobilize for the program, the company is currently recruiting installers with two to five years installation experience and some management experience to become full-time Mobile Pro associates.
Technicians who sign up for the program will be Safelite employees who are based out of their home and will receive a truck and computer.
“Essentially, what these guys will be doing is running a remote store out of their home,” said Dee Uttermohlen, marketing manager of Safelite. “We expect the same things out of them that we expect out of a store manager: the ability to use a computer, manage time appropriately and the ability to install glass.” Consequently, she said the Mobile Pros will receive compensation packages similar to what store managers receive, which includes a guaranteed hourly wage in addition to the Safelite pay for performance plan.
Some industry concern has been raised about the installation practices of these Mobile Pros. But, Uttermohlen emphasizes that Mobile Pros will receive full training and will be monitored closely by Safelite. “Whenever a Mobile Pro associate is hired they will go through classes and be trained using the Safelite pro-cut method,” she said. “We will insure they are certified and if they are not, we will complete that. In addition, they will be trained and supervised in the same fashion as any other store manager. The district operations and the technical and installation manager will visit them on a regular basis.”
Uttermohlen says the program was motivated primarily by the company’s need to service areas where it does not have stores, but does receive network jobs. “We put this program together to answer needs in markets where we are beginning to get more business because of various network contracts that have been signed,” she said. “In each market, associates will be brought in as market conditions dictate. Each market will have one Mobile Pro, but if business increases to where we need more, we will take a look at the situation.” However, the company will not eliminate its network shops in these areas.
Safelite has faced some criticism in the industry for hiring its own mobile installers to work out of their houses, while it will not accept independent installers on its network who work out of their houses. “We will have more control over someone who is a Safelite associate working out of their home, than someone who is not a Safelite associate working out of their home,” Uttermohlen said. “When we are entrusting a network shop with a policyholder, we have to be very careful to ensure their ability and willingness to follow the proper procedures. We would trust our own associates to do this, perhaps a little more fully than someone we don’t have the same control over.”
Independent glass shops in smaller locations around the country are wary of Safelite’s new program, citing the possible unfair advantage mobile Safelite technicians will have.
One installer who may feel the effects of this program is Steve Richbark of George’s Auto Glass in Macomb, IL. He says he does almost all of the work in his area through the Safelite network. However, with advent of the Mobile Pros and the emergence of Safelite, he is beginning to wonder how he will compete. “The small-time companies are beginning to take a beating,” he said. “I am trying to work in an environment where I can guarantee my work. However, these people come along and cut prices, yet they still make better profits than I ever have.”
Rosie Hensley, of Page Fast Glass in Page, AZ, also runs a small-town shop. She is primarily concerned about competing with an installer who is working out of his or her home and has no overhead. “Why don’t they just keep their stores and if they want to compete, open up a storefront like everyone else?” she asked.
Finally, an installer in a small Southern town, who preferred not to be identified, voiced a concern for the customer who gets his windshield repaired by a Mobile Pro. “I don’t think it is fair to the customer,” he said. “Will the customers know how to get to Safelite, if they have a problem?”

Goode-Bye at Kawneer
Denny Goode has been replaced as president of Kawneer Company Inc. of Norcross, GA, by George Bergeron, executive vice president of Alcoa, Kawneer’s parent company. Bergeron will work with Kawneer’s current management team until a permanent president is named.
The company says it made the move to position itself for future growth and to remain competitive. “Accelerated improvement is essential and our best opportunity to achieve the desired results requires a leadership change,” Bergeron said in a letter to the company’s customers.
In addition, Robert Leyland, a long-time company employee, has been promoted to vice president of marketing.

Key Communications Debuts AGRR™ Magazine
Key Communications will debut AGRR: The Magazine Driving the Auto Glass Repair and Replacement Industry in September 1999. The magazine is designed for those who repair and/or replace auto glass, along with those involved in original equipment manufacture of auto glass.
The magazine will combine the USGAuto section of USGlass magazine and Windshield and Glass Repair Magazine. In addition, it will offer an in-depth treatment of the auto glass industry by providing the latest news and technology updates, as well as industry practices.
The magazine will begin running on a bi-monthly basis in January 2000. At that time, Windshield and Glass Repair Magazine will be folded into the new publication.


ASSOCIATIONS

ASTM Adopts C 1422-99
The C 14.08 flat glass subcommittee of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) recently adopted the C 1422-99 - Standard Specification for Chemically Strengthened Flat Glass. The standard categorizes the process of chemical strengthening according to the case depth and surface compression produced in the glass. Ion exchange is the process required to chemically strengthen glass. Soda-lime glass is submerged in a salt bath consisting of potassium nitrate. When the glass is submerged, the large alkali potassium ions exchange places with the smaller alkali sodium ions in the surface of the glass creating a stronger surface.
The standard will soon be available from ASTM and can be ordered via the Internet at www.astm.org.


CONTRACT GLAZING

Pay-if-Paid Case Won in Colorado
A construction subcontractor won a pay-if-paid case that was before the Colorado Supreme Court. The Colorado Supreme Court limited the use of pay-if-paid clauses by saying a contract must specifically bear that language for it to be enforceable in the state. The Court rejected a lower court’s ruling that interpreted a contract clause as setting conditional payment, according to the American Subcontractors Association.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said, “To create a pay-if-paid clause in a construction contract, the relevant contract terms must unequivocally state that the subcontractor will be paid only if the general contractor is first paid by the owner and set forth the fact that the subcontractor bears the risk of the owner’s nonpayment.”


COMPANIES

Touch of Glass Expands
Touch of Glass Inc. of Mount Pleasant, SC, has expanded its custom glass edging product lines. According to the company, it has added straight line beveling equipment and is now capable of producing beveled edge glass designs and custom edge profiles on-site. The company can create designs in traditional squares, rectangles, circles, ovals, elliptical and a variety of custom shapes up to -inch thickness. The equipment can also be used to edge structural glass wall panels and frameless shower enclosures.


CODES AND REGULATIONS

Deflection Proposal Defeated
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) says it was successful in defeating a deflection limits proposal in the International Building Code. The Window and Door Manufacturers Association, the National Association of Home Builders and the ASTM E1300 working group supported the AAMA in its opposition. The proposal, introduced by a representative of the American Institute of Architects, would have required all windows to meet L/175 minimum edge deflection criteria, not just heavy commercial and architectural grade products as provided for in AAMA/NWWDA 101/I.S. 2-97. AAMA’s counter-proposal to exempt residential, light commercial and commercial grade windows from the L/175 requirement, effectively referencing the provisions of 101/I.S. 2, was passed unanimously.

Proposed Changes to NBC
The following changes/revisions were made to the National Building Code as interpreted by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association:
Section 714.3.8 FS150—Clarifies the difference between fire resistive rating requirements for walls and window openings. New fire resistive glazing products meet the radiant heat and hose stream criteria of ASTM D119. These glazing assemblies meet the test criteria for fire resistive walls and, therefore, should not be subject to the area limitations applied to opening protection (rated by NFPA 252 and 257).
Section 1402/1403 FS289—Adds definition of “exterior wall envelope” and documentation requirements to address compatibility of components in an EIFS wall system (ref: N. Carolina problems). Requires documents detail the openings and the maintenance of weather resistance of the exterior
envelope. (Not the same definition as Installation Spec -E6.51.11)

Kentucky Adopts 1997 Edition of NFPA
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) announced that the Kentucky Depart-ment of Housing, Buildings and Construction has adopted the 1997 Edition of NFPA 1, Fire Prevention Code. Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia have previously adopted NFPA 1.
The NFPA 1 provides the minimum requirements necessary to establish a reasonable level of fire safety and property protection from hazards created by fire and explosions. Its primary purposes are to address basic fire prevention requirements and to reference or extract the fire prevention and protection aspects of 97 other NFPA codes and standards, according to the NFPA.


EXPANSIONS

Viratec Announces Addition of Infinity V™
A $15 million capacity expansion has recently been completed by Viratec Thin Films Inc. of Faribault, MN. The company announced the expansion and start-up of “the largest known vertical, anti-reflection coater in the world.” The new system, Infinity V, sputter-deposits optical thin film coatings onto vertically positioned substrates in sizes up to 100- by 144-inches, according to the company. The machine can produce 20 million square feet of optically coated glass annually.


FINANCIAL

Apogee Reports First Quarter Improvement
Apogee Enterprises of Minneapolis, has reported improved results for its first quarter of fiscal 2000, which ended May 29, 1999. The company attributes the improvement to sales growth in each of Apogee’s business segments.
The company’s first quarter net earnings from continuing operations rose to $4.6 million, compared with $4.2 million, for the first quarter of fiscal 1999. Total sales increased 11 percent from $190.4 million to $211.1 million. Additionally, operating income for the quarter rose 7 percent from $9.5 million to $10.1 million.
“It’s encouraging to see sales volumes grow in our newly completed Glass Technologies plant facilities ...,” said Russell Huffer, Apogee’s president and chief executive officer. While reflecting on the increases, Huffer also looked toward the future. “We have a sense of urgency at Apogee in realizing our growth plans,” he said. “We are just beginning to see the financial benefits from our various initiatives, as expansions at Glass Technologies are reaching conclusion and the facilities are ramping up production. Our primary goal is to achieve the enhanced sales potential at Viracon, Viratec and Tru Vue.
“Our two businesses are now intently focused, and under the direction of newly promoted management, we aim to deliver significantly stronger results in the years ahead,” he said.


INDUSTRY-WIDE

Glass Innovation Center Opens
A Glass Innovation Center has opened in the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY. The museum houses stories of glass inventors and has hands-on exhibits. Also highlighted is a show demonstrating how a crystal vase is made using a 2,350 F furnace. The evolution of flat glass, glass vessels and glass as a material that conducts light are showcased in three museum galleries. The center also highlights pioneers of the glass industry.


MANUFACTURING, DISTRIBUTION AND PRODUCTION

IMPACT to Distribute 3M Products
IMPACT Distributing of Florida has been given distributorship of several 3M Company product lines throughout Florida. The Scotchtint, Scotchshield and Panther film lines join other products currently distributed by IMPACT.
“3M was looking for fresh marketing and sales ideas to bring to the table in their decision,” said John Diaz, president of IMPACT. “We look forward to working with our current dealer base in ensuring long-term growth and stability of our brands ...”

C.R. Laurence Opens New Location
C.R. Laurence Co. of Los Angeles, has opened a warehouse in Secaucus, NJ. The warehouse has more than 45,000-square-feet of space and services the New York City and New Jersey areas. Will Call Service is available at the new location.


TESTING

Intertek Introduces Glazing Certification Program
Intertek Testing Services of Boxborough, MA, has introduced its new Glazing Certification Program. According to the company, the program combines testing and certification for up to four different glazing products into one package. Based on the total number of inspections required, manufacturers using the program pay only a single flat fee to have products certified to meet requirements for any of the
following: insulating, safety, fire and security.
After showing compliance with the requirements, manufacturers can label their products with the company’s Warnock Hersey mark. Manufacturers who use the new program can reduce the number of follow-up inspections by as much as 66 percent, according to the company.


WOULD YOU BELIEVE?

Stained Glass Window Stolen
A 9-foot stained glass window was stolen from the Salem Fields cemetery in New York and prepared for sale, according to a federal indictment. Alastair Duncan, a Tiffany glass expert, was charged with conspiracy, transporting stolen property, witness tampering and structuring the sale of the art to avoid paying taxes. His accomplice, a grave robber, was not named or charged in the indictment. The grave robber prepared the window for sale and Duncan, allegedly knowing it was stolen merchandise, purchased it for $60,000 and then sold it to an individual in Japan for $219,000. Duncan faces a maximum of ten years in jail if convicted.


KUDOS

Granco Clark to Provide Equipment Upgrades
Granco Clark of Belding, MI, has been chosen to provide upgraded equipment for two International Extrusion Corp. plants. The plant in Alhambra, CA, will receive an end-flow age oven, an automated extrusion system that will be added to International’s 3,300-ton press line and an upgrade of one of International’s smaller presses with a furnace/shear system.
The plant in Waxahachie, TX, will receive a completed automated handling system for an existing 2,200-ton press. The system will feature a double puller, which will provide the best utilization of a shorter cooling table through the use of “Multiple Extrusions Per Billet” program, according to the company.
Security Lock Receives Award
Detex Corp. has presented its first Outstanding Sales Achieve-ment Award to Security Lock Distributors of Boston, MA. The annual award honors Security Lock for its effort in supporting and advancing the use of Detex products such as exit control locks, exit alarms, access control systems and accessories.


INDUSTRY EVENTS

Glass Expo Calgary™ Attracts a Stampede of Attendees
Glass Expo Calgary, held June 25-26, 1999 in Calgary, AB, attracted a stampede of attendees. More than 800 people visited the 38-booth, two-day show. The educational exposition consisted of a variety of seminars, a tour of Wescan Industries and two special presentations by the Performance Achievement Group.
Although the weather outside was unseasonably cold, the weather inside the exposition was friendly, warm and inviting. The seminars were filled to capacity and the social events, such as the Edgetech-sponsored cocktail party, were a tremendous success. The most popular event by far was the Saturday morning breakfast, featuring Jerry Wright of AAA Glass as the keynote speaker. Wright spoke to a standing-room only crowd.
Attendees were also treated to a tour of Wescan Industries on Friday morning. Representatives of the company showed those taking the tour its newest acquisition, a glass handling machine from Bystronic.
Attendees were able to ask and have their questions answered before, during and after the tour. This helped in putting the whole manufacturing process together.
The next regional glass exposition, Glass TEXpo ’99, will be held September 17-18 in Fort Worth, Texas.


LATE BREAKING NEWS

Insurance Company Sues 14 Glass Shops in South Carolina
In what it says is an effort to eliminate the AGR industry’s practice of dual pricing, Insurit Casualty Group of Columbia, SC, has brought suit against 14 AGR companies of varying sizes in South Carolina, alleging unfair trade practices, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, breech of contract, interference with contractual relationships, conspiracy and negligence. Insurit estimates damages to be in excess of $28 million per year.
The companies charged include Ace Glass Corporation, ACI American, American Auto Glass, Astro Glass Company, Century Glass, Diamond-Triumph, Elite Auto Glass, Glass Masters, Glass Pro, Harmon Auto Glass, PPG Industries, Safelite AutoGlass, The Carolina’s Connection and Turner’s Custom Auto Glass. “This suit is going after the larger companies because they are just as guilty, if not more so, than the smaller ones,” said Insurit president Jay Specter.
“The primary reason behind the suit is the dual-pricing system used by glass companies in that the insurance company is paying more money than the customer off the street,” said Specter. “In South Carolina there is a law that forbids this from happening. It says that insurance companies will not pay anything higher than what someone who does not have insurance will pay.”
Under the South Carolina law to which Specter referred, it is an unfair trade practice for someone to “submit bills, or requests, for payment for work covered by insurance that are in excess of those submitted for similar work not covered by insurance.”
As expected, the glass industry in South Carolina is fighting Insurit’s suit on a number of fronts, primarily the premise of its suit. “He is citing some obscure state law that I am not sure is applicable to this particular case,” said Dan Fishburne, president of the South Carolina Glass Association (SCGA) and owner of Glass Works of Aiken, SC. “We are going to get an opinion from the insurance commissioner to decide if it is relevant to this part of the case.”
In addition, Fishburne says Specter’s case may be politically-motivated. South Carolina currently has a law that exempts insureds with comprehensive insurance from paying the deductible on auto glass. However, Fishburne says Specter is pushing to get this exemption closed. “I am not sure there are some ulterior motives from Mr. Specter because he is looking to enhance his ability to get the no-deductible law rescinded,” he said. Specter adamantly denies this charge saying, “It has absolutely nothing to do with that [the-deductible law].”
However, Specter does think it is time for the practice of dual pricing to end. “Why should I pay more for a windshield replacement than someone walking in off the street?” he said. “People are always claiming that insurance is too expensive. One reason it is too expensive is because of claims payments. We have to get a handle on our claims payments. It [dual pricing] is hurting those in the public who get their windshield replaced and it has to stop.”
This is not the first battle about dual pricing, a different set of prices glass shops offer customers paying cash and insurance companies. The price for the cash customer off the street is almost always lower. Many glass companies defend this practice by saying that cash pricing basically is a discount for customers who pay for their work up front. Last year, Consumer Reports magazine published a story about a man who paid almost $250 more for a replacement through insurance than he did out of his pocket, causing a furor in the industry (see USGlass, February 1998, page 58).
Fishburne suggests that the problem does not lie in the pricing of auto glass, but in Specter’s understanding of the AGR market. “The cash pricing is falling in relation to the insurance pricing,” he said. “With your customers you negotiate prices daily, but the bureaucracies of insurance companies don’t allow for price negotiation.”
In addition, Fishburne says that Specter could have found other ways to control his AGR costs. “Mr. Specter does not exercise his options like the other insurance companies have by negotiating prices with different AGR vendors,” he said. “Most of the major insurance companies do this so they can control their pricing.”
However, Specter says he did try to negotiate prices before pressing suit, though it was to get the cash price.
In the long run, Fishburne says the SCGA is more concerned with the public relations fallout from the suit than the suit itself. “It paints a picture of us in the glass business as being crooks and hoodlums when, in fact, just the opposite is true,” he said. “We are ethical, honest business people who are trying to make a living like everyone else. We don’t want to give our customers reason for alarm and we are outraged that we are being painted in this unfortunate light.”


USG

Copyright 1999 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.