By Emmariah Holcomb
This year’s Auto Glass Week broke the mold when compared to previous years. Its attendance in San Antonio was at a record high throughout the conference, and new competitions, demonstrations and seminars aided in the overall success. But the list of options for the thousands who attended this year’s show didn’t stop there. Guests also had the opportunity to visit a variety of exhibitor booths while in between seminars.
Brings Big News
Dozens attended the opening session for Auto Glass Week, where attendees heard a brief presentation from three industry leaders. The news from one was surprising for many, to say the least.
NWRA president Troy Mason made an announcement that left those in the room speechless.
“Both groups [the AGSC and NWRA] will be joining and forming one organization,” said Mason. Though both groups are different, they focus on similar central issues and have similar goals involving developing and maintaining standards for the industry. According to Mason, the main goal is to reduce the redundancy and combine resources (For more on this story, see pages 12 and 18)
To Start Each Day
There were a variety of seminars to choose from to suit everyone from auto glass enthusiasts to industry experts. ADAS, calibration and auto glass quality seemed to be the common themes in many of the seminars. But new technology also found its way into one that had nearly everyone in the audience trying to capture each slide through its pictures.
The Integrating Calibration into Your Business seminar had nearly every seat filled. Attendees could hardly wait to learn about shop benefits if calibration services were added versus relying on their nearest dealer. A few members of the audience instantly mentioned the inherent cost associated with buying calibration equipment to the five-person panel. And one panelist shared the same concerns.
“Smaller shops aren’t able to do calibrations in house because of the financial and space constraints, so many work with the dealers and it comes down to how much your shop is willing to invest in the potential risk,” Peter Brown, owner of Tiny & Sons, said.
Towards the end of the presentation, a few attendees mentioned the initial costs of the associated materials were high and for that they agreed with Brown; but they also mentioned their businesses made its money back and then some by adding the service. They ultimately saw profits over time that assured them that they made the right decision for their shop. Even members of the panel chimed in.
“I think that we should be doing calibrations in house or work with the customers and dealerships to make it happen,” Dan Knowlton, K&K Glass (Florida) president, said.
The OE and aftermarket glass seminar shook things up for some of its attendees. According to its presenter, Liz Jakacki, NSG Pilkington sales manager, the majority of industry professionals have noticed an increase in discussions on comparing OE and aftermarket auto glass.
“Not all glass is created equally,” Jakacki said, as she instantly connected with the crowd. She also used her opening quote as a base to connect glass quality to ADAS. Audience members took pictures and notes when Jakacki spoke about several of the qualities that can be commonly found in auto glass. A few of the main qualities she highlighted were heat, shape, light, coating shade bands and distortion.
Approximately 11 million glass units, or 4-8% are replaced annually depending on the state, according to Jakacki. And she believes there are three categories when it comes
to auto glass options versus the standard two more commonly used.
“You have OE, OEE and aftermarket. OEE stands for Original Equipment Equivalent, this is actually rated higher than aftermarket,” Jakacki said. Aftermarket glass only meets the minimum safety requirements, while OEE glass has everything with the exception of the manufacturer logo on it, according to Jakacki.
There were many in the audience who weren’t aware of OEE glass in comparison to aftermarket, but quickly turned the focus on whether or not this type of glass could affect ADAS and calibrations. At that point, the presenter reiterated the benefits of locating the correct windshield, checking and comparing glass options for their customers.
Insurance Claims Data
One seminar that was popular due to the information given was presented by Kay Wakeman, a research analyst for the Highway Loss Data Institute. Overall, the institute has seen an increase in luxury car windshield replacements versus windshield repairs. According to Wakeman, there are a few contributing factors that could be concluded from the institute’s research. Two main causes are the windshield angle and type of glass used.
“We want to dive into this a little more, especially with the increase in luxury vehicle replacements because the average cost to replace its glass is much higher than what is classified as a standard vehicle,” Wakeman said.
The institute conducted a study a few years ago at the Washington Auto show, and based off of its results, they saw a dramatic difference in some vehicle model glass angles.
“After we began our research we saw some models of Jeeps with windshield angles over 63 percent. Meanwhile, the smallest vehicle angle found in more compact Hondas was only slightly above 23 percent. That difference is drastic,”Wakeman said.
Though there isn’t as much data available on what has been classified as extreme windshields (more than 50-degree angles), research and statistics has proven they provide a higher degree of frequency for their claims. Windshields aren’t the only cause for the increase in insurance auto glass claims. According to the research shown in the presentation, panoramic roofs are also contributors.
“There’s an increase of glass on the vehicles when you factor in panoramic roofs, which increases the chance of breakage and the need for replacement,” Wakeman said.
Based on data on select Kia vehicles, there was a 40-percent loss overall for vehicles with panoramic roofs.
Driving Through Demos
After the seminars concluded attendees took to the showroom floor. While there were a variety of demonstrations to choose from, more than one hundred people surrounded the demo area to see what the experts were bringing to the show this year. Autel focused its demo on its calibration equipment. Several of the audience asked its presenters questions about the interface and various options available through its equipment.
asTech’s alibration demonstration was immediately after Autel’s but onlookers couldn’t tell because barely anyone moved between demonstrations.
With barely room to squeeze in, about the same amount of people crowded around to see the Bosch demonstration.
Opti-Aim crowds grew a few minutes after it started, as many onlookers mentioned they were coming from viewing competition heats in neighboring areas.
Getting Loud for the Keynote
This year’s keynote speaker brought laughter and lots of insight into his journey into the industry for Auto Glass Week™ 2018. Richard Rawlings, the host of popular Discovery Channel show “Fast N’ Loud,” and the owner of Dallas-based Gas Monkey Garage kept the audience wanting more with his open discussion keynote format.
Rawlings answered questions from moderator Daniel Snow and the audience. He started by sharing his story on how he went from working in the industry to owning his own business.
“I wasn’t always in the industry, but I had a passion for it. I actually had a variety of jobs as a police officer, fireman and medic all before I turned 21 … imagine that,” Rawlings said.
He focused on a few main points:
• If a person is looking to expand their business they should start by knowing the history of the business;
• Always start small, as you will learn along the way and adjust;
• Establish a strong foundation;
• Have a strong team that works for and with you; and
• Stick to your brand.
Keeping a Close Eye
on the Competition
Sessions and coffee weren’t the only things on guests’ minds this year, as hundreds took to the showroom floor to watch a variety of competitions. This year there were competitions for:
• Advanced auto glass technician;
• Windshield repair;
• Calibration; and
• Customer service representative.
Each drew crowds who eagerly watched each heat until the winners were chosen.
• Steve Abrahams of Auto Windscreens in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, United Kingdom, took the gold for the AGTO large-size company division.
• Jason Martin of Wisefly Auto Glass in Vernon, Fla., took the gold for the AGTO regular-size company division.
• The silver in the AGTO went to Travis Crebs of TechnaGlass in Taylorsville, Utah, and
• Collin Walton of Don’s Mobile Glass Inc. in Merced, Calif., took the bronze.
• Suzanne Allan of Suzanne’s Windshield Repair in Round Rock, Texas; took the gold in the WRO competition.
• Matt Anderson of Novus Glass Repair and Replacement in Spokane, Wash., took home the silver medal in the WRO.
• TJ Tirado of Windshield Fitters Inc. in Katy, Texas, came in third with the bronze.
The AGTO judges also recognized Martin with the Ingenuity Award for inventing a system that can make a vehicle level no matter where it’s located.
The calibration competition debuted this year. The international competition was designed to find and honor the auto glass technician who completes the best auto glass calibration.
Its preliminary rounds were held in August. Based on those rounds, four finalists were invited to compete in the finals round of a static calibration from start to finish.
Those four finalists were: Josh Bradley, Clear Choice Auto Glass in Spartanburg, S.C.; Jon Burra, The Windshield Calibration Center in Phoenix, Ariz.; Chris Prigden, Intermountain Auto Glass in Garden City, Idaho; and Mark Smith, Avizion Glass in Lexington, Ky.
Bradley was the gold medalist and grand champion.
The voice of any auto glass company can be found through their customer service representatives. Contestants in the preliminary rounds were divided into four regional competitions across the United States and competed from their offices. Competitors participated in a mystery shopper experience and received a call in August. Companies and their competitors were not notified of the date or time of the call in advance. A team of judges graded each call.
One finalist from each region competed in the finals round. They were: Corella Blanton, Avizion Glass in Lexington, Ky.; Nick Gojcaj, Henderson Glass in Rochester Hills, Mich.; Olivia Smelcer (Howe), Auto Glass Optic-Kleer LLC in Keller, Texas; and LeAnn Lawrence, GlassproInc. in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
This year the gold medalist and grand champion was Olivia Smelcer (Howe).
Things on the Floor
Each morning attendees also took advantage of the added morning coffee with series. There, industry speakers were able to connect with smaller groups and have a more casual discussion on industry related topics, Carl Tompkins, an industry veteran with 44 years in the business, is set to retire at the end of this year. Before he does so, he hosted one of the Morning Coffee With sessions and shared his seven tips to business success to it 60 attendees.
These are a few pieces of his advice:
• “If you don’t do what you say you are going to do, nothing else matters.”
• Dazzle me. “You have the opportunity to dazzle the customer 17 times in one transaction.”
• “If you are not selling, you are losing.” Tompkins says great salespeople are worth their weight in gold.
• “Right is not always easy but right is always right.”
Exhibitors Showed Up and
Showed Off Their Products
Exhibitors packed their booths with products at this year’s conference. Several of them said they began to see more local residents visit their booths for information on the industry.
It wasn’t a secret that calibration was something everyone heard about at this year’s show. In fact, a few companies used its booths to continue to conversation on calibration.
asTech had several calibration targets on display and the company is looking to expand in the near future, according to its representative. Bosch Automotive Service Solutions showed options for both static and dynamic forms of calibration with its products. These companies weren’t the only booths with this on the mind.
It was Autel’s first time at Auto Glass Week and its representative was thrilled with its booth turnout. Since the company focused on calibration too, it ran out of literature for guests just two hours into the show on the first day. Autel mainly focused on its ADAS components and software.
Top sponsor Pilkington also took this year as an opportunity to focus on calibration but on a more competitive level. The company also thought about making it a competition.
“So we actually came up with the idea before last year [to have a calibration competition], but by the time we thought of doing it, it was too close to the show to enact it,” Erica Clouse, Pilkington calibration commercial manager, said.
So instead the company waited and observed the current competitions before bringing the idea to the table.
Fun and Growth
The reigning theme for some this year was overall growth, according to a few representatives. Some companies, such as GlasWeld, said they’ve seen growth, and as a result, have been able to increase its staff. While other companies, such as Mygrant Glass, have seen an upward swing and are looking to expand in the near future.
Xinyi Auto Glass North America’s booth consistently had a line that wrapped around it. The reason: they offered a local artist to draw caricatures of those who stopped by its booth on a sample of the company’s windshield glass.
Meanwhile, across the floor new tools were being demoed and shown off.
WRD Glass Tools Inc. had three new items on display: the Spider 3, a cordless drill operation, the orange bat which is a dual-spindle auto glass removal system that’s also cordless, and the pro 6, which is also a glass handling and removal system. WRD Glass Tools was just one of the many companies that introduced new tools.
Extractor had new blades for auto glass removal in addition to its new lithium battery. GT Tools displayed its shorter and quarter-glass cutter, which also allows for easier quarter window removal, according to its representatives.
The company also showcased its three different adhesives with different drive away times including the primerless, 30 minute and one hour minimum drive away time.
Equalizer showed off two new products on the show floor. Their new JetPacks were on display for technicians to try. The JetPacks vacuum cups were designed to eliminate the need for manual pumping, and are extremely easy to use. To turn them on, you simply place them onto the glass and let the cups pump themselves. If the cup starts to lose air, Equalizer’s Airforce branded technology takes over until the cup has maximum vacuum again. The JetPacks come in a 7-inch diameter cup, and features a maximum workload of 100 pounds. The Jetpacks fully charge within two hours, and come with a charger.
The company also displayed its new Push Knife. This is a machined aluminum hand tool designed to remove glass with Equalizer’s Express Blades. The knife features a plate for striking with a mallet, making the job of removing glass effortless, according to the company. The blades on the knife can be easily changed out, depending on
the job being completed.
Arney’s Installation Tool showed off what it hopes will make windshield removals easier. Its patent pending tool helps support the windshield from falling and damaging the vehicle.
Software and Technology
How far would the auto glass industry be without software? Fortunately, attendees didn’t have to ponder over that question, thanks to the variety of software exhibitors at this year’s show.
Quest Software Inc. representatives were pumped to tell their booth visitors about the company’s new mobile app, which allows its users to get everything they need in one place. “We went through the extra effort and worked with Apple Inc. to make it accessible to both
Apple and Android users and the feedback has been positive,” said Rob Rust, representative.
Dash Glass has been capitalizing on its proprietary dashboard services. According to the company, when their clients use it they have an easier time recording and measuring vehicle damage.
Sunroof Express spoke to attendees about the company’s newly launched parts site, which allows customers to view its products and inventory. Meanwhile, IBS Software featured its new pointof-sale system called Elmo Anywhere. The easy-to-use and convenient features allow companies to conduct business all in one place. Everything is cloud connected to allow for fast and reliable connections, according to the company.
GTS offered its one-ofa-kind point-of-sale and shop management app. The app is compatible on both iPhone and Android. It allows installers to have everything they need in one place, including customer information, payment options, a camera feature to show their work, and even a map to show where repairs need to take place, according to the company.
New Product Lines
Meanwhile, 44 Tools shook things up with its new line of towels. “We kept selling a lot of our standard towels and our customers started asking for more options with better quality.
That’s when we knew it was time to start a line of towels, and we ran out of them for our booth because people see the need for them,” Tim Neely, 44 Tools representative, said.
GGG is focused on its new line of wiper blades.
Meanwhile, Creative Extruded Products took an economical approach with its booth display. “This time around we have a universal rubber line to show off. The company really wanted to expand in the market and offer a solution that also is more economically feasible for our consumers,” Marvin Reynolds, representative, said.
It wouldn’t be a complete conference on auto glass if cleaning weren’t a part of the conversation. Spray-X kept cleaning at the head of its display by showing off its new quarter pallet. Meanwhile, one company chose to focus on keeping windshields free of excess rain.
Carlex featured its rain repellent, and those who stopped by got to see how rain effects the camera and sensors in many newer vehicles with ADAS, first hand.
Windshield repair options could be found on the show floor as well. This includes windshield repair resins and tools such as the new UV light on display at Delta Kits.
Some companies offered special deals at Auto Glass Week, such as Glass Mechanix who offered two repair kits at special prices. Time was of the essence for some of this year’s exhibitors.
Dow wasted no time in showcasing its Express 30 product. Those who perform dynamic calibrations may appreciate the 30-minute drive away time, according to Dow representatives.
Glass Magic Professional showcased its one-minute resin. The water-soluble formula has a two-minute cure time, according to the company, and can be applied in one step.
SRP is updating its scratch removal system, and talked to attendees about it and how it can help them in their businesses. “A lot of people are asking about the scratch systems,” said Jeff Falconer, sales representative.
Coatings and More
Glassparency showcased its glass coatings, but also talked about how it’s expanding into other glass applications as well.
Duncan Systems displayed its options for heavy duty replacement glass for both motorhomes and big rigs. Meanwhile, C.R. Laurence focused on its types of truck sliders.
BSG Auto Glass, a manufacturer and distributor, displayed its worldwide auto glass offerings. Benson Auto Glass showed off its auto glass offerings as well. The company makes auto glass for vehicles large to small, and offers capability with eye-sight features in modern vehicles, such as Subaru.
Marcy Adhesives’ representative said the company has something big for 2019 and that it’s something to keep an eye out for.
Burco promoted its replacement side view mirrors, and had several packages available at the show such as its “Burco-box.” The company also showed its Redi-Cut mirrors that have a pre-applied motor mount.
This year’s show was especially memorable for Rosemia Tiglao, from Santa Clara, Calif., as she won a new Ford F-150 truck during the last day of the conference. She had the seventh key. There were eight finalists with keys to a box, the person who had the key to open the box was the truck winner.
Tiglao could be seen jumping for joy and praising God once she realized her key made her the winner.
Changes Coming to NAGS
“Based on the complexity of what is happening in the market why is NAGS not
changing?” asked John Gilmartin, senior vice president for Mitchell International (NAGS). “I’m here to tell you that we are.”
NAGS announced it is going to modernize its approach to pricing by eliminating the NAGS price index.
The new program will be launched in one year at Auto Glass Week 2019, but attendees at Auto Glass Week 2018 in San Antonio received a preview of all those changes this morning in a special session at the event.
A preview of the changes include the following:
• NAGS part information will be published online in real time.
• The information will only be available via web interface/API.
• More ADAS information will be included.
• The NAGS price will have industry involvement.
• All products are moving to the cloud.
Regarding involvement from the industry, Gilmartin said, “I wouldn’t say we have had industry involvement in the past. We are changing that. We will be setting up an industry group to get feedback.”
Members of this group would be asked: “This is how we set it up in the past. What should we do differently?”
The mix in this group will include small and large retailers, manufacturers, insurers, etc.
“When we produce the model it will be more transparent,” said Gilmartin. “How can we collaborate? Is there a different way we can provide the information to the market?”
The New NAGS Price
“What you experience today regarding a NAGS part will change,” said Gilmartin. “We need to make it current instead of leaving it stagnant. We will be going to a Recommended
Retail Price Value.”
Gilmartin did not provide specifics on what that Recommended Retail Price Value will look like. He did say they will provide information on included and non-included items.
He hinted that manufacturer pricing could play a role.
One attendee asked if prices will change based on market conditions. “It is not our plan to produce supplemental info, based on tariff changes, for example,” said Gilmartin.
“We are going to go where the market tells us to go,” he added. “As we update the part number that will be updated in real time.”
Gary Hart from the Independent Glass Association asked why NAGS doesn’t use the OEM MSRP. “We are looking at that,” said Gilmartin.
Someone asked if the company will look at labor time and Gilmartin simply said it is something they will look at and again this is an area where they would love to hear from the industry. “The industry should let us know on a part-by-part, vehicle-by-vehicle basis.”
Gilmartin said he knows that these changes will be difficult for auto glass companies.
“There will be a transition,” he said. “There will be a pain for some folks. All
the information will move to the cloud but you can access on a variety of devices so we don’t lock you down.”
“We will manage it appropriately,” he added. “We know there is complexity and it will not all happen tomorrow.”
A Female First
One woman technician was beaming with excitement at this year’s Auto Glass Week Windshield Repair Competition (WRO). She became the first woman to ever win the competition, after years of watching her husband compete, Suzanne Allan rightfully earned the title of WRO champion.
“It means a lot to me, I spent a lot of time preparing for this, my husband has been there supporting me and walking me through it,” Allan says.
Emmariah Holcomb is the assistant editor for AGRR magazine, and can be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tara Taffera, editorial director, contributed to this report.
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