Professionals Show Up to Network, Compete and Learn
When Auto Glass Week™ finally happened live June 7-9 in Orlando, after a 21-month absence due to COVID, no one knew what to expect. The auto glass industry turned out eager to network, learn new information in the educational sessions, discover new products, and watch the best of the best compete. If you couldn’t make it to the event, or didn’t attend virtually, go to agrrmag.com and click on the studio to watch the daily video updates. The following pages include just some of the highlights. Be sure to make sure you receive the glassBYTEs.com newsletter to your inbox daily to stay up to date on all the industry news. (Some seminars not mentioned here will be included in future editions.)
Seminar Spotlight: Auto Glass Market Trends
You can’t have an educational seminar series without taking a look at the state of the market, and current trends. Nick St. Denis, director of research for Key Media & Research (AGRR’s parent company), did just that in a “Morning Coffee session” at Auto Glass Week.
He told the crowd of early risers that miles driven, most impacted by COVID-19 in late first quarter and early second quarter 2020, was still “working its way back, but getting close to” pre-pandemic levels.
The number of miles driven declined more than 13% in 2020 compared to 2019, mostly due to a severe drop-off from March through May. At its worst point, the number of miles traveled was down 40% in April 2020 compared to the same month a year ago.
Fast forward to 2021, and travel was beginning to rebound by the end of the first quarter. “It’s still working its way back, but we’re getting close to pre-pandemic levels,” he said. The number of miles driven in March were just 3.4% lower in March 2021 compared to 2019.
What remains to be seen is whether drivers will return to commuting to work full-time and how this will impact activity on the road. Many businesses in the U.S. are opting for more work-from-home time for their employees post-pandemic, and if this continues, it will have a minor impact on miles traveled totals moving forward.
For additional perspective, St. Denis then discussed 2020 sales figures among the major auto glass manufacturers, noting that these companies saw anywhere from a 13% to 29% dip in auto glass sales for the year compared to 2019. The two leading retailers in the U.S. and Canada region, Belron (owner of Safelite) and Boyd Group, also saw mid-to-high
single-digit percentage declines from 2019 to 2020. He noted that the latter numbers don’t tell the whole story, though, as they factor in acquisitions, which softened any year-over-year decline in revenues.
St. Denis said that most of these companies have a positive outook in 2021 as drivers continue to hit the road, though Canada has been much slower to recover than the U.S. and could post continued challenges through the year. However, after a major down year, new vehicle production is up this year, which is a positive for the OEM glass segment.
St. Denis wrapped up the discussion talking about the advancement of ADAS and calibration in the auto glass industry. He noted that up to 21% of the approximate 290 million current vehicles on the road have at least one ADAS feature.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean that all of these vehicles have ADAS features that impact the windshield and require calibration—but a good share of them do,” St. Denis said. “And about nine of every 10 new vehicles this year have some kind of ADAS… So this trend is only going to get stronger.”
To Calibrate or Not to Calibrate? There is No Question
The importance of calibration was highlighted in a panel discussion at Auto Glass Week 2021 in early June, and audience members heard it straight from the source in “Learning from Auto Glass Shops that Offer Calibration Services.”
“We’ve heard a lot of tales of dealers saying: ‘Well, it didn’t throw a code, so it doesn’t need to be calibrated.’ That’s not true. You have to look at the service information,” said George Weller, president of Zenith Auto Glass in Duluth, Minn.
Barry Lintner, owner of Lloyd’s Glass & Correct Calibration Services in Pensacola, Fla., said marketing is why he added calibration to his company’s list of services.
“We chose to give the calibration business its own identity. The name Correct Calibration Services speaks very clearly to what we do. It is subservient to our Lloyd’s Glass company, and we only do calibrations for ourselves at this point in time,” he said.
Lintner explained his company’s name, and the importance of making it clear for customers.
“Calibration is new to everybody. And most people don’t even know what you’re talking about,” said Lintner, who added that marketing is also the answer when it comes to educating consumers about calibration.
“We utilize all forms of media. I particularly must admit the social media forums and formats are extremely effective and cost effective,” he said.
Lintner said marketing is “really just about getting the message to the consumer in the places that they’re going to see it, in the ways that they’re going to understand it. It’s just Marketing 101.”
“For us, we started a second company [for calibration] just so we could service competitors and help out local body shops. We saw a need, and we went for it, and we’re very thankful that we did,” said Jacques Navant, technical director of Don’s Mobile Glass in Modesto, Calif., and chair of the Auto Glass Safety Council’s (AGSC) Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) Committee.
Navant also spoke to the importance of environment when calibrating.
“Just because it’s calibrated doesn’t mean that it’s calibrated properly,” he said.
Chris Gutierrez, director of technology and Innovation with Protech Automotive Solutions, mentioned the necessity for best practices when it comes to calibration.
“You will never remove your liability. There is no way you will ever remove it. So if you don’t build your documentation and do it correctly, that’s the one car [where there will be a problem], that’s always …the way it works, Murphy’s Law guarantees that’s the one time something will go wrong,” Guiterrez said.
He also spoke on customers’ lack of information about the industry.
“When you try to explain to somebody on the phone that they have a rock chip [in their windshield], and it’s going to cost them $1,100, it’s eye opening [to the customer].”
The panel also discussed training customer service representatives (CSRs) and the importance of equipment.
“For our CSRs to be able to speak knowledgably requires training,” Lintner said of the role of CSRs. So, the training of the CSRs, in my mind, is absolutely essential if you want to have a satisfied customer at the end of the process.”
“We all spend a tremendous amount of time trying to figure out how to make a calibration work in a particular case, and we’re not compensated for that time. And when you figure the fact that insurance industry likes to compensate for the three types of calibrations, it really should be by the hours required. And I would hope that at some point in time there would be hours rather than flat rates based on dynamics,” Lintner said of compensation for calibration.
A question was posed to the panel about the future of static versus dynamic calibrations.
“Everything we’re seeing and hearing from the sources we go to, it’s going the other way, static is where it’s going to go. And I’m already seeing static has surpassed our dynamics in my business,” Weller said.
– Rebecca J. Barnabi
Sponsors Reveal Latest Products—In Person
After nearly two years, Auto Glass Week gave sponsors the opportunity to showcase their latest products, for attendees to see up close. From ADAS technology, tools, supplies, adhesives and more, this Auto Glass Week offered something for every auto glass professional.
Frank Terlep, chief executive officer of Auto Techcelerators, displayed his company’s new CoPilot™ ADAS suite, which features three platforms—ADAS CoPilot™, Calibration CoPilot™ and Test Drive CoPilot™. All three platforms are designed to help auto glass repair and replacement companies identify, inspect, estimate, calibrate and validate ADAS system repairs and calibrations.
AirPro Diagnostics premiered Auggie, its latest solution for ADAS calibrations. Auggie allows static calibrations in any environment, eliminating the need for specific conditions such as flat-level floors, a certain amount of lighting and particular space requirements.
“With an Auggie, you can do [calibrations] on a hillside, you can do it in a parking lot,” said Mandee Bradshaw, director of corporate communications and marketing at AirPro Diagnostics. “[Anyone] can perform the calibration because Auggie is the tool, but on the other end of Auggie is one of our skilled brand specialists.”
Agile Truck Tools, a distributor of Autel ADAS equipment, displayed the ADAS LDW2.0T Package, among other products. President Greg Reimmuth said the user-friendly component of Autel products sets them apart.
“If you’re limited on training and knowledge, and every vehicle can be different even within brands, the software itself will actually give you the diagnostic routine and the step-by-step routine as to how to conduct the calibration holistically, by that vehicle and by that VIN,” Reimmuth said.
John Bean showcased Tru-Point, an integrated system that combines high-camera technology, targets and advanced software design for recalibration. The operating system streamlines the process from beginning to end with simple, real-time and visual target placement indication, according to the company.
Pilkington North America, supplier of Opti-Aim, and Platinum Plus sponsor of Auto Glass Week, was a prominent staple of the show, once again showcasing the features of Opti-Aim, a complete auto glass camera calibration tool used to manage installations that demand precision and accuracy, according to the company. Pilkington was one of the suppliers who offered demos of its calibration equipment during the event.
Tools and Supplies Take the Stage
Equalizer’s booth featured the TFM1000 Transformer, a drill-powered auto glass removal tool that works with the company’s existing Visual Vacuum Cup. Invented by Luis Hernandez, the Transformer is a multi-use tool that serves as a dual-cutting, cord removal tool as well as two quarter glass removal tools that attach to the door striker when separated.
A.N. Designs displayed its UltraWiz product line, which features USA-manufactured hand tools like cold knives and lever knives for technicians that prefer this style of auto glass removal.
CPI Divisions showed off a host of items at AGW. “With COVID, the availability of nitrile gloves has been difficult,” said Matthew Foy, president of CPI Divisions. “We’ve been able to secure enough supply so if people are struggling out there, we or our distributors can get them taken care of.”
Spray-X’s main product on display was its new Cold Weather Windshield Prep, specifically designed for technicians who install in colder climates. “It’s a non-aerosol liquid form,” said Chris Hazlett, national sales manager. “Keep it in the pocket, tech can pull it out— they can spray it around the edges and then what they do is just simply do a wipe. And then they can know that it’s contaminant free.”
Precision Replacement Parts brought its cased Clip-and-Cowl Fastener Starter Kit to the show floor for attendees to preview. The product features 25 pieces of 36 different moulding clips, cowl fasteners and rivets for a total of 900 pieces. “We designed it with mobile installers in mind,” said sales representative Joel Erickson. “To be able to put them in a van, have them in a shop [or] organize them out. We labeled each [case] compartment so that you can re-order it a lot easier.”
The Lisle Corporation detailed its line of specialty auto glass hand tools during its first showing at Auto Glass Week. National sales account manager Bob Harris said the company continues to strive for more success in the auto glass industry. “We’re getting really good feedback from the technicians to improve tools—what needs to be developed to help them become better installers and for the business owners to be quicker on the job and do more windshield installs and repairs throughout the day.”
Many sponsors showcased products for use during windshield repair including Delta Kits. Korey Gobin, sales manager at Delta Kits, Platinum sponsor, said it was great to see familiar faces and new ones at the event, all looking for products to use in their shop.
“We have our headlight restoration kits here and we redesigned our windshield bridge and made a few limited editions just for Auto Glass Week.”
Adhesive Round Up
DuPont detailed its new BETASEAL™ U-428Plus and BETASEAL™ U-838 Primerless-to-Glass Windshield Adhesives, which feature three-hour Minimum Drive-Away Times (MDAT) at working temperatures as low as 50°F. According to the company, each eliminates steps and speeds installations by incorporating glass primer functionality into the urethane.
SikaTack showed off several products, including its auto glass replacement adhesive—the SikaTack MACH-30 XV. The product, which can be applied in temperatures rom 0 – 120˚F and has a minimum drive-away time of 30 minutes in most conditions, is available in 300 ml cartridges as well as 465 and 600 ml unipacks.
Software Glass and More
Credit card processor Chosen Payments used its booth to help attendees ‘take charge’ of their business. Sales director Keith Sweeney said the company aims to ensure a quality merchant experience that translate into a quality customer experience. With the processor, businesses can expect a system that features a flat monthly fee and no hidden fees or transaction fees.
eDirectGlass showed off its new point of sale software. “We’re going browser-agnostic, which means that now the point of sale software is going to be for any device, [including] mobile phones and tablets,” said Maria Iorio, director of operations.
Mopar used AGW to debut its newly-launched Certified Glass Installer Program, I-CAR®. Mopar information states that the program is specifically designed for those facilities that perform glass replacement as part of their automotive collision repair work. Through the program, MOPAR-certified installers will use factory-engineered and factory-backed Mopar Glass, in addition to factory-approved education and training from I-CAR to ensure customer vehicles are repaired to OE standards.
“We certainly enjoyed seeing so many customers and suppliers–in most cases, it was the first time in over a year,” said Tim Glover, vice president of sales for PGW Auto Glass. “We introduced The Game Changer wire cutting tool at the show, and the response was amazing. More stock is on the way to fill all of the orders.”
Attendees included auto glass owners and technicians from veterans, to first time show goers, including Jason Waites at Glass Doctor (who was a finalist in the windshield repair competition).
“You’re not going to find auto glass tools in Lowes or Home Depot … I wanted to come here and get second, third and fourth opinions on a lot of different products,” he said.
—Tara Taffera and Chris Collier
Competitors Shine: Meet the Finalists and Winners
The winners of the Pilkington Clear Advantage Auto Glass Technician Competition (AGTO), Delta Kits Windshield Repair Competition (WRO) and the grand champions of the Auto Glass Calibration and Customer Service (CSR) competitions were announced on the final night at Auto Glass Week™ 2021.
Delta Kits Windshield Repair Competition (WRO) Winners
• Gold. TJ Tirado, Windshield Fitters Inc., Katy, Texas
• Silver. Tiffany Domingos, JJB Auto Glass, Atascadero, Calif.
• Bronze. Jen Curbow, Novus Glass, Kennewick, Wash.
Pilkington Clear Advantage Automotive Glass Technician Competition (AGTO) Winners
• Gold. Macenzie Curbow, Novus Glass, Kennewick, Wash.
• Silver. Jorge Sandoval, KD Auto Glass, Moreno Valley, Calif.
• Bronze. James Chapman, Richardson Glass Service, Inc., Newark, Ohio
Auto Glass Calibration Competition Grand Champion
• Mark Rogers, Mel’s Auto Glass, Cincinnati, Ohio
Auto Glass Customer Service (CSR) Competition Grand Champion
• Jace Geffken, Transparency Auto Glass, Garner, N.C.
Visit the Digital Edition for Enhanced Content
Go to agrrmag.com/digital and click on the July/August issue for videos from Auto Glass Week. Look for the photo with the play button in the Auto Glass Week review article. Simply click on that and be directed right to the video.
To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.