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Volume 7, Issue 4       July/August 2005

Repair Talk
     Thoughts from the Shop

Memo Re: Replacement
by David A. Casey

To:            The windshield replacement industry that opposes windshield repair
From:        The windshield repair industry
Message: Get used to us. We’re here to stay.

I'm sorry that we have sucked quite a few billion dollars from your replacement economy, but that’s what your customers wanted and that’s what we do for a living. As a matter of fact, more people are asking for it every day and there are more of us coming into the business all the time. So, you will probably want to work with us or around us rather than waste your time and resources working against us.

I know some of you wish that people wouldn’t repair the things that you sell brand new, but so did the washer and dryer, the furnace, the air conditioner and all the other companies that make products in the price range of a windshield. Consumers just won’t go for it these days because they know better and repair makes sense to them.

So far none of the tactics that your industry has employed have been effective. To the contrary, defending those efforts has made us stronger and more united than ever before in the history of the repair industry. 

Spreading scare rumors about moisture in the damage and the safety of a repaired windshield didn’t fly with anyone outside of the replacement industry, and really drew more attention to the edge of the windshield which exposes a hundred times more PVB to moisture contamination than rock damage does. The problem here is one of manufacture and design rather than the minute amount of moisture introduced through a rock damage that could allegedly inhibit the bonding between the glass and PVB.

Trying to eliminate, or limit, the scope of repair through licensing issues didn’t work in Connecticut because you didn’t fight fair and the process was ended quickly when that was clear to everyone involved. 

Espousing unproven factors that impugn the safety of repair only draws the focus back to your own replacement practices. Just ask “20/20” or “Fox News” what they think of the practices they found common in the replacement industry. The reason licensing is being pushed so hard is to try to curtail some of the improper practices that are rife within the replacement industry. And that position comes from your own industry spokespeople.

I have watched hundreds of windshields replaced on car lots and auto rental locations and I have seen the ramifications of a windshield replaced improperly when subjected to impact or rollover. But, I have yet to see a replacement company spend more than 30 minutes on a replacement job. Most of them can replace one faster than I can repair one. So rattling on about the safety of repair, while knowing that retaining the factory seal is usually a better option for the motorist than a 30-minute replacement in whatever weather and humidity will only continue to cause the repair industry to use your own practices as our best promotion.

There are many companies in the replacement industry that recognize repair as a viable and valuable option for many of their customers. They are earning the trust of those customers when they offer the repair option and they are creating more frequent sales for their shops. I remember years ago when the CEO of a national glass replacement company told me, “I only get to see my customer every five years while you get to see yours every twelve to eighteen months. I like that!” 

For now repair is becoming recognized as a common solution to a glass problem. Soon, with more motorist education, a quality repair will be recognized as the best solution to the rock damage. Don’t make the mistake of treating repair as an unimportant sideline to your replacement business.

If you can’t dedicate the proper time and resources to providing the best repair possible, think about subcontracting to a repair-only company. You’ll get more repairs completed, the repairs will be of higher quality when performed by a full time repair expert and you will probably enjoy a ton of referrals from your repair partner. We come across a lot of broken glass that we don’t repair or replace.

I’m sorry if some of the replacement companies opposed to repair are offended by what I have to say. I was pretty offended by some of the efforts I’ve seen to destroy my livelihood and that of thousands of other American entrepreneurs who repair every day. I also think that the customers who have been deprived of repair when it was appropriate will eventually be a little offended too. Hopefully, they won’t hold it against you.

David A. Casey is president of SuperGlass Windshield Repair Inc. in Orlando, Fla.

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