Volume 5, Issue 6        November/December 2003


Mailbox         Letters____________

"Build a house with a contractor, ask a plumber to fix a pipe or ask a grocer to deliver food - your bill won't be just the labor."


The Real Safety Question

Dear AGRR,
I just finished reading the article “How Safe is Windshield Repair?” by Tim Smale in the September/October 2003 issue of AGRR (see page 14). I am so totally and completely outraged by this article that I felt the need to write and enlighten my fellow readers on a whole host of points that Smale seemed to leave out. 

First, this testing was done in an entirely uncontrolled fashion. The Independent Glass Association (IGA) “picked and chose” the parameters it felt were important to the outcome of the tests. Inherently, the act of removing a windshield from a vehicle introduces internal stresses to a bullseye, star breaks, cracks, etc. Then the windshields were “cut into approximately 1-foot sections” using “standard laboratory test methods.” What I gather from this statement is that they found several automobiles with stone-damaged windshields, removed them from the vehicles and then cut approximately 1-foot sections out of them after a qualified repair technician fixed the affected areas. I have been repairing stone-damaged windshields for a few years now and I have never cut a section out of a windshield for any reason. I simply pick up the phone and call the customer about one month after the repair and make sure he is satisfied with the quality and integrity of the repair. 

In addition, I have worked with polyvinyl butyral (PVB) for more than seven years in an engineering environment. It is also used as a plasticizer in a chemical solution. Once the PVB is cured, it is an extremely tough material. I believe that PVB was first introduced in the manufacture of windshields to prevent glass shards from entering the cabin of the automobile.

According to Smale’s article, moisture becomes evident in the PVB interlayer soon after stone damage occurs. Well, there very well may be a microscopic amount of moisture in the PVB shortly after stone damage. Is it enough to delaminate the primary layer of glass from the secondary? Is it enough moisture to create an optical problem for the driver? Is it enough moisture to cause serious damage in the event that the automobile gets into a collision? If the auto gets into a collision of that magnitude, I bet the windshield would be the last thing anyone would think about.

When I fix a damaged windshield, I notice that the resin adheres to the glass all around the impact point.

On average, my repairs look 80 to 95 percent better when I am done. My repairs stop the damage from spreading and cracking out the entire length of the windshield, thus warranting a replacement. The bottom line is: windshield repair saves the consumer and insurance companies money! I have never heard of any repaired rock chip causing a leak in a windshield or bodily harm/injury in the event of a traffic accident.

So, the question I would pose is this: “How safe is trusting the IGA to make controlled experiments on the topic of windshield repair?” In my estimation, it’s not safe at all ...

Daniel Boyle
B & B Windshield Repair
Seattle, Wash.

Butter Us Up with Fair Labor

Dear AGRR,
Catherine Howard’s latest response to everyone is, “Wouldn’t it be good to know when you accept a job that you will at least cover your material and labor costs on every job, etc.?” (See September/October 2003 AGRR, page 12).

She is referring to your urethane—and now labor.

I hear the train rolling in the direction of “fair labor.” I’m all for that. What I don’t hear is fair profit on glass. Number one: the tier pricing is ridiculous—anywhere from 70 to 30 percent (referring to the insurance companies). Glass shops should make the same. NAGS, if you want us to suffer the same, we should profit the same.

Anyone making 70 percent off a windshield might (and I use the word “might” strongly) make a profit, if you are a large chain. Personally, I think that is what is behind any move NAGS makes. Wake up, small businesses, don’t just expect to make $100 per vehicle no matter what vehicle, because now the only thing you get is fair labor.

Build a house with a contractor, ask a plumber to fix a pipe or ask a grocer to deliver food—your bill won’t be just the labor. The only difference is, these parts I can buy at my local home improvement or grocery store—I just don’t know how to do the work.

Nancy Heffron
Vice President
A-1 Glass
Blackwell, Mo.

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