An Industry Is Born
Part Three of a Five Part Series
By Lyle R. Hill
I was asked and encouraged to write this series of articles be-cause there are only a few of us left who can provide the historical background, perhaps even an inside look, on certain eras of the auto glass replacement industry. And once again, this is my recollection of events and is part three of a series.
During the first day of a planning session that I attended in 1985 at the American Management Association’s (AMA) upstate New York re-treat, the group I was with received a handout from the session leader. Over the course of time we were there, we were given a number of handouts as well as homework assignments. I still have some of those handouts and some of my notes. In the small cabins that we were being housed in, there were no phones or televisions. We could not leave the small campus and we worked, collectively and individually, for about 12-14 hours a day. At the end of each day, we would congregate in a building called “The Teepee” (because it looked like one) for an hour or two. I have fond memories of bowling with Jack Kellman there on the two lane alley and of getting wiped out trying to play poker with Gladys Lazar, Ed-die Cheskis and Walt Stubbs.
The sessions were led by a very energetic and somewhat captivating employee of the AMA. The setting reminded me of my college days. We did not break for lunch. The noon meal was delivered and we were only allowed about 20 minutes to consume it. From the first session to the last there was never any doubt that we were there to work and it was here that I got my first exposure to the concept of strategic planning … even more importantly, to the concept of strategic thinking.
I didn’t want to be there. The division of the corporation I managed had nothing to do with auto glass and it was apparent from the beginning that this event was going to be almost exclusively auto glass-oriented. I was told that our time together was going to be revolutionary … and it was … but I had my own problems to deal with and while I had respect for the auto glass people, I wasn’t a part of that world yet. My plunge into the world of auto glass was about ten years away. I had asked to be excluded, but my request was turned down. Little did I know at the time what a “blessing in disguise” this would be.
After World War II, the diary of the Japanese Admiral, Isoroku Yamamoto, who had planned the at-tack on Pearl Harbor, was reportedly found and in it were these words, “I fear all we have done is to awake a sleeping giant and to fill him with a terrible resolve.” The Admiral was even more prophetic than he may have believed because indeed, a giant had been awakened and would never go back to sleep again. America’s growth and development took off in ways not ever imagined. The national highway system put in place under President Eisenhower transformed the transportation system in the country and the prosperity that came after the war meant that every family in America had an opportunity to buy and drive a car. And most of them soon did. More cars driven more miles meant more auto glass breakage. Soon, stand-alone auto glass replacement businesses be-came common. And a new way of doing business was born.
To be continued …
LYLE HILL has 49 years of experience in and around the auto glass industry. At one time he operated 71 auto glass retail shops and a wholesale auto glass distribution business. He is currently the president of Glass.com®, an information portal and job generation company for auto glass businesses.
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