Volume 5, Issue 6        November/December 2003


AGRReports         breaking news___________
Judge Orders Hand-Over of Documents; Two Claim Victory 


While both the Independent Glass Associ-ation (IGA) and Columbus, Ohio-based Safelite Glass Corp. claim victory in the October 7 hearing in the Central District of California's U.S. Federal Court, each side can actually claim only a partial victory at best. In Judge Carl Woehrle's opion, Safelite's motion is granted "in part." Safelite had requested certain documents the IGA had gathered about the issue of steering, the subject of the case filed in Scranton, Pa., by Diamond Triumph, in which it is the defendant.

“Responsive documents in all categories, including internal IGA communications and communications with members, are to be produced insofar as they related to (1) any alleged steering or stealing by or involving Safelite or Diamond or (2) the instant litigation,” writes Woehrle in her decision. “Broader discovery concerning the activities of the IGA is not warranted, given minimal relevance to the claims and defenses in the litigation and the competitive posture of the parties. If IGA asserts that particular documents to be produced contain confidential or proprietary business information, the parties are to cooperate in fashioning a suitable protective order.”

The IGA was ordered to produce the necessary documents and submit them to Safelite no later than December 9.

While the judge's ruling was mixed, both sides have claimed victory in the hearing.

“The IGA won a major victory in federal court yesterday when the federal judge ruled in favor of the IGA and against Safelite in their attempt to subpoena a wide range of IGA documents,” wrote the IGA.

On the other side, Safelite issued a press release stating it had prevailed in the hearing.

“The IGA had [its] day in court, and [the company] lost," said Safelite's senior vice president, general counsel and secretary Mark Smolik. "Safelite obtained access to those IGA documents relevant to its defense in the Diamond Triumph litigation.”


AGRSS Prepares to Issue First Interpretation of Standard 

The Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS) Council Inc. has announced that soon it will release its first interpretation of the AGRSS Standard in response to a question concerning the use of recycled or used glass. 

“We have received a request from an auto glass company to provide guidance about whether or not the use of recycled or used auto glass in a replacement complies with the AGRSS Standard,” said AGRSS chairperson Cindy Minon-Ketcherside of JC’s Glass in Phoenix. “A subcommittee of the Standards committee is working on that issue and expects to have an interpretation issued soon.”

Interpretations are issued by ANSI-accredited standards-developers such as AGRSS to clarify issues or to relate a Standard to new technology. 
“Addressing safety issues upfront is what AGRSS was designed to do,” said Ketcherside.

In addition, AGRSS is gaining widespread interest in the international auto safety community. The standard was the topic of a recent presentation at Glass Processing Days in Tampere, Finland. The well-known technical conference, sponsored by Tamglass Engineering Oy, attracted more than 900 glass industry delegates from around the world.

“Understanding North America’s New Auto Glass Safety Standard” was also a popular seminar at Glass Expo Pacific Northwest, held in August in Vancouver, B.C. Officials from a number of Canadian organizations were in attendance and expressed interest in a close working relationship with the standards developer, the AGRSS Council.

“There has been a lot of interest in the Standard and a lot of questions about it from the audiences at these events,” said Debra Levy, publisher of AGRR magazine and the speaker at both sessions. “It’s exciting to see the AGRSS Standard being recognized and acknowledged throughout the world.”

AGRSS Launches Consumer Website

The Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) Council has launched its consumer website, www.safewindshields.com. The website, designed for consumers looking to learn about safe auto glass installations and/or find AGRSS-registered installers to complete their work, is now online.

The website features a section where browsers can input their zipcodes to find registered shops in their area, along with an area for insurers to learn more about the importance of a correctly installed windshield.


Safelite Glass Corp. Reorganizes into Holding Company

Columbus, Ohio-based Safelite Glass Corp. has announced reorganization into a holding company for subsidiary companies representing Safelite’s three major operations: auto glass fulfillment, windshield manufacturing and claims management services. The holding company will act under the umbrella name Safelite Group Inc.

Safelite’s retail auto glass repair and replacement operations and wholesale auto glass and shop supplies operation, doing business as Safelite AutoGlass and Service AutoGlass, respectively, will retain their individual brand names and make up Safelite Fulfillment Inc.

Safelite’s manufacturing operations, with facilities in Wichita, Kan., and Enfield, N.C., along with the company’s national distribution center in Enfield, will become part of the new Safelite Glass Corp.

Safelite’s claims-processing operation will become a separate company, Safelite Solutions LLC.

“This is an exciting time for the Safelite family of companies and our 6,000+ associates,” said the newly appointed Safelite Group president and chief executive officer Dan Wilson. “Establishing separate companies for our different businesses will more accurately reflect the diversity of our services today, while retaining a link to our proud heritage with the Safelite name. This change will be transparent to our business partners, customers and suppliers.”


Auto Glass Shops Recover from Hurricane Isabel

In the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, auto glass shops along the East Coast are now facing both their own damage and an attempt to fix the windshields of all the vehicles hit by the storm.

The Glass Shop, based in Virginia Beach, Va., where the storm wreaked havoc all along the coast, wasn’t damaged, but its business has been impacted greatly.

“We didn’t sustain any damage,” said chief executive officer Darin Blatner just after the storm hit in late September. “The problem is there are so many people in our area that are without power and phone service so they can’t make the calls to get the work done, and our glass supplier is without power so we can’t get any glass.”


Potential Buyer of Harmon Autoglass Revealed

AGRR magazine has learned that the Riverside Group, a private equity firm based in San Francisco, is in negotiations for the purchase of Harmon Autoglass from Minneapolis-based Apogee Enterprises Inc. Riverside is currently in the process of acquiring the Dwyer Group of Waco, Texas, the parent company of the Glass Doctor chain of franchises. The Dwyer Group had been a public company until May 2003 when its proposed merger with Riverside was announced. That merger is not yet complete. 

“Our proxy was just approved-it went out last week,” said Robert Tunmire, president of Glass Doctor in an interview on October 7. “We are having a shareholders meeting in three weeks and expect it [Riverside’s purchase of Dwyer] to be completed at that time.”

Tunmire would not comment on the Harmon purchase. “You may know more than we here at Glass Doctor,” he said.

Riverside is expected to work through Glass Doctor to sell the Harmon Autoglass locations as franchises.

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