For Every Successful Repair Technician, There Are Countless Others Who Fail. Why?
By Joshua Huff
Cracks and chips in windshields are a common occurrence for most drivers. Damages can range from tiny, barely visible chips to spider-web cracks extending the windshield’s width. In many cases, an auto glass repair technician is needed to ensure those faults do not spread and lead to a replacement. That’s how repair technicians, such as Alan Unowitz, owner of Germantown, Md.-based The Windshield Repair Man, make their living.
For many technicians, the job is more than filling a crack with resin. It is a chance to help people in need.
“You’re saving people money, keeping the factory seal from being broken, and saving the environment because recycling car windshields is difficult,” says Unowitz. “What can I say? I enjoy what I do.”
Steven Ybarra, owner and founder of San Antonio Windshield Repair, adds that it doesn’t hurt that the auto glass repair industry is a lucrative business. In fact, “it’s been very profitable,” he says.
Ybarra expects the repair industry to grow further as replacement costs increase. Those increases result from the auto industry’s turn to head-up displays and the use of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which often require calibration when replaced.
Hindsight is 20/20
A job in the auto glass repair field is one of opportunity. Timing also helps, says Unowitz. He joined the industry more than 40 years ago when he foresaw the potential to repair windshield cracks and keep the glass optimal visually without replacement. While the repair business has provided a great life for Unowitz, he says prospective technicians should be open to providing windshield replacement as well to maximize profits.
“It is tough to make a living just doing windshield repairs,” he says. “When I used to go to conventions in the mid-1980s and ’90s, I would say about 85% of the people there only repaired windshields because it was physically easier and more convenient. I would say 85% of people are now in the replacement business and pickup windshield repairs on the side.”
He still could dip his toe into windshield replacement but says the upfront costs and physical nature are a deterrent. Don’t be fooled, he adds. While windshield replacement is more labor-intensive, a repair can include challenges such as climbing on semi-trucks or buses. Repairs are not always easy, he says.
Ybarra says if he could return to when he first started in the industry around 2010, he would focus less on insurance-related jobs and more on direct payments.
“Dealing with insurance was much more work than I expected because I thought that if it were free, everybody would automatically want to do it,” he says. “But what I learned is that some people are standoff about insurance. If I hadn’t pushed insurance so hard, I probably would have made many more sales.”
An Open Mind & Communication
An open mind and open communication are key to succeeding as an auto repair technician, says Goran Mitic, owner of Anthem, Ariz.-based Anthem Stars and Chips. Technicians must be personable and knowledgeable enough to engage customers and expertly explain the windshield repair process.
“Hardworking and knowledgeable are good traits to have,” he says. “Also, patience and timeliness. When you schedule your appointments, you must schedule enough time to get from one appointment to the next. Being on time is part of the experience of delivering good customer service.”
A college degree isn’t essential to becoming an auto glass repair technician. The majority of training is hands-on, says Unowitz. Mitic, who recently purchased Anthem Stars and Chips, says interested parties must learn how the glass repair process works. He advises new technicians to watch training videos, such as those provided by Delta Kits and other suppliers, which explain the repair process, where to buy equipment and how to get certified. Some suppliers also offer prospective technicians a hands-on windshield repair certified training course.
“When I started, I tried to be familiar with the auto repair process and learn what to expect,” says Mitic. “I learned that every chip is different. I also learned that communicating the repair expectations to the customer is the most important thing. It won’t be brand new, but it will stop the damage from worsening and restore the windshield’s integrity.”
Unowitz has trained several technicians throughout the years and found that observing and learning are the best ways to get a foothold and succeed in the industry.
He recommends that technicians get certified whether they aim to focus on windshield repair or replacement. For technicians interested in windshield replacement, he highly encourages them to get certified. That’s because replacing a windshield affects the vehicle’s structural integrity, he says. He adds that, unfortunately, not every technician is certified even though courses are readily available.
“Classes typically are offered by the company you work with, or by an individual person. There are also online and onsite classes available,” he says. “There are also yearly conventions, such as Auto Glass Week™, with glass replacement, repair training and hands-on demos.”
Tools of the Trade
Ybarra says that a technician’s windshield repair kit typically includes a windshield repair bridge, a drill, an ultraviolet light and resins. A kit can also include curing tabs, injector end seals and centering tools, pit polishing corks, and moisture evaporators, among others.
Ybarra says the most important advice a prospective auto glass repair technician needs to know is to underpromise and overdeliver.
For Unowitz, it’s all about fulfillment. “It all comes back to enjoying what you do,” says Unowitz. “If you do, it’ll show in the results of your work.”
Auto Glass Technician Certification Programs
The Auto Glass Safety Council offers various auto glass technician accreditation programs, including:
• AGSC’S General Certification Technician Test: This online examination features 70 multiple-choice questions. Testers have an average of 90 seconds per question to answer. Requirements include knowledge in OSHA regulations, an understanding of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), all types of auto glass replacement, NAGS and pattern making for glass fabrication will help in taking the examination.
• NWRD Repair Certification Technician Test: This online examination consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. Testers have an average of 90 seconds per question to answer. Requirements include understanding the steps necessary for a company and its individuals to be in compliance with ANSI/NWRA/ROLAGS 001-2014, the Repair of Laminated Auto Glass Standard.
• Test Registration Process: The costs for the tests are $39 for technicians who work for AGSC-registered member companies and $149 for technicians who work for non-AGSC registered members. The fee covers up to three attempts.
• Additional Accreditations:
AGSC Certified Master Replacement Technician: This applies to technicians who have passed the AGSC master technician certification test and who work for AGSC Registered Member Companies.
AGSC Qualified Master Replacement Technician: This applies to technicians who have passed the AGSC master technician certification test and who do not work for an AGSC Registered Member Company.
Visit https://agsc.org/technician-certification/ for more information.
Joshua Huff is a contributing editor for AGRR magazine. Email
him at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on LinkedIn
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