Brooklyn Bridge to Success
It doesnt take long to figure out where Ken Einiger hails from. Even though his Glass Mechanix company is based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Einigers stance, pace and speech are all full of Brooklyn bravado. And how a kid from New Yorks most colorful borough was able to start and grow one of the most successful windshield repair supply companies in the country is a story in which any Brooklynite could feel pride.
Im originally from Brooklyn, confirms Einiger. I moved to Florida with an athletic scholarship about 20 years ago. I was going to be an athletic trainer, but, in the end, I turned the scholarship down. I worked some odd jobs and eventually went to work at United Repair Glass Enterprises. It was one of the first companies doing any repair work. I got experience educating people about repair and doing a lot of fleet work.
Einiger says he saw the potential in windshield repair immediately. When you explained what repair could do, it opened a lot of eyes and we got a lot of business he says. It made me think that it had a future. Einiger decided to go out on his own a few years later and Glass Mechanix was born. I worked on the new technology quite a while and when I had it right I opened for business. My first office was the second bedroom in my condo.
Today, Glass Mechanix employs 11 people in a spacious office in South Florida. The companys repair system is used by more than 1,000 people in more than 40 countries worldwide. Its products are used in Japan, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and China to name a few. Its recent deal with Safelite (see page 42) will lead to more product sales for the company.
Keys to Success
Einiger attributes the companys success to two things: the system and the support. Our products are good, he says. We mix our own resins and offer a number of different types for different applications. We also guarantee the resins for life.
The companys new Power Vac system has also been very popular. It was designed so that cracks almost anywhere on the glass could be repaired, he states. Its revolutionary in that respect. You dont need a suction cup lubricant. It will not pop off no matter where you put it and its very versatile. You can also get to the corners.
Einiger says he and Bob Beveridge, formerly of Glass-Weld Systems, worked together to develop the system. Its a patented system that we spent a lot of time developing, and its been a hit in the marketplace, he said. Its got a lifetime warranty. If it breaks, send it back and we will send a new one.
We also support the repair technician heavily, he adds. The company provides training at headquarters to everyone who purchases a Glass Mechanix system. The training, airfare and hotel are all included in the cost of the kit, says Einiger, there are no extras necessary. We also provide 24-hour technical support and quite a bit of sales and marketing information, and we are there with help when its needed.
Einiger says his companys impact on the repair business has been good. We
offer a lifetime warranty on repairs, he said. Weve had a positive
impact. The company has had only one owner, hasnt changed hands and is
well-capitalized. Our customers see stability and it makes a good impression for the whole
Glass Mechanix offers a training course in Ft. Lauderdale that draws repair technicans from different ends of the globe. The company builds the cost of the course, and lodging and travel into the cost for its system.
Rebel with a Cause
This industry has a lot of mavericks, Einiger responds when asked about his occasional reputation as a repair industry renegade. I will say what I feel because thats what I feel. But I think about everything I do before I do it ... Id rather do it and wish I didnt than not do it and wish I had, he says, never quite defining what it is.
The strain of running a fast-growing company in a tightly competitive industry hasnt hampered him either. I sleep so well at night, he says smiling. Lets face it, windshield repair is not a lifeordeath issue, so I dont lose sleep about it ... I thank my competition for being the way they are. They keep me motivated because I am determined to be better than everyone else ... and Im the sole owner, so I dont have to ask anyone before I make a decision. I make it ... for good or for bad ... I make it.
Einiger sees no conflicts in repair of long cracks either. If a customer wants a long crack repaired and the customer will sign a release saying they understand this type of repair, then we should do what he or she wants. The way I see it, lots of people ride around with cracks that never get repaired and they are still on the road. A repaired long crack is better than a non-repaired one.
He also has some advice for owners and technicians at repair companies. I can usually tell pretty quickly who is going to make it in the repair business, he says. You need to be able to handle rejection well. Youll get five, maybe, seven nos before you get a yes. Being discouraged by rejection can be deadly. You also dont need to be a great salesperson, but you do need to provide great service. A good job cannot make up for bad service. Sometimes, you just need patience. You have to realize that your customersespecially fleet accountswill try other companies that are cheaper than yours. But remember, in 80 percent of the cases, your customers will come back because your quality and service is good. Saving money is no bargain to a fleet owner if he has to keep calling a repair company back.
Einiger says the business has taught him quite a few lessons. I learned not to spread myself too thin. At one time, he also owned a tinting business but decided he couldnt be in two places at once. Ive learned patience too, although I probably give raises too quickly, he quips. And Ive learned the importance of staying power.
Monday Morning Fervor
Those raises might have something to do with employee staying power. General manager Lex Confessore started with the business in the very beginning. Lois Littchman, who provides support in a variety of areas including sales and marketing, has been with the company five years. Karen Boschia, who handles customer service, and bookkeeper Wendy Smith, have also been there quite awhile.
Whatever the reason, Einiger loves what he does. This is the only job Ive ever had where I dont say oh no, I gotta go to work. I love it and I love the battle.
Debra Levy is the publisher of AGRR magazine.
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