by Debra Levy
I admit it. I did it. I said I wouldn't, knew I shouldn't, but couldn't resist: I wrote a teaser. A teaser, in journalism parlance, is a morsel of information that the issuer (in the case USGlass), knows will be so enticing that it brings the audience (in this case, you) back at a later time. Tabloid TV and soap operas are famous for teasing their audiences. We prefer to get the information to you as fast as possible, so we almost never use a teaser to the next issue. But in March, the combination of too little page space and the inability to get anyone at a particular company to talk on the record, led us to hold a story about a major glass manufacturer about to make a big announcement til now.
Since then, more people than I can count have asked me about the announcement. A few have said things like "I assumed you were talking about the PPG deal," or the "Carlite deal." Although it wasn't meant as such, Visteon's Carlite Auto Glass Replacement System (CARS) program would have been a good candidate for announcement. The program marks Carlite's entry into the referral/network arena, with a shift in the program administration from American Road Insurance Company to Carlite. Through the program, drivers of company owned and insured vehicles call an 800 number when they need glass and are directed to what Carlite says are "Ford-authorized installers . . . who meet reasonable pricing parameters." The program is being managed by Lanny Davis, who says that CARS is "studying ways to expand the program to all company vehicles . . ." As the program grows, it will help reshape the way business is done once again in the AGR market.
That our teaser appeared well in advance of PPG's decision to sell its European operation is telling, as it would have been an excellent candidate for the "announcement by a major manufacturer." The move to sell the division is a subtle wave of the proverbial white flag. Industry insiders feel it is a tactical admission that the company had not been able to build a long term growth strategy or develop executable plans to deal with the volatility of the European market. Privately, many see the move as an attempt by PPG to strengthen itself in the States and to get ready for the emergence of a new competitor. Which brings me to the original big announcement.
Don't be surprised if a major European flat glass manufacturer based in France begins extensive operations and manufacturing in the United States within the next two years. Saint Gobain is believed to be gearing up for a major launch in the United States and putting an infrastructure together here. "The market is ripe," said one company representative who preferred not to be identified, "and Saint Gobain is particularly interested in the auto glass and value-added flat glass market."
USGlass and its sister publications will be represented at the upcoming trade show in Phoenix. It's as easy as 1-2-3 to remember our booth number because our booth number is 123. I hope you'll stop by and say hi and pick up some information about our upcoming educational eventsincluding the just announced Glass TEXpo and Glass Expo Hawaii '99. We plan to hold the Hawaii event every ten years and it is open to all in the industry. It will be held February 19-20 at the Turtle Bay Hilton Resort and Golf Club on the tip of the island of Oahu. The room rates are only $129 a night.
And while you're looking through the issue, please read Regina Johnson's report on tempered glass. The in-depth report is very interesting.
Finally, I would like to thank you. This issue of USGlass is a milestone for us. It is the largest we have ever produced. This is due in large part to the support of our advertisers and readers. I can't say this often enough: it is an honor to work for you.
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