Volume 8,  Issue 4                         July/August  2006

Industry Insiders
people in the news


Shat-R-Proof, NOVUS Undergo Organizational Change
Since TCGI’s divestiture of the Canadian gass operations to Belron Canada, significant changes have occurred within its Sha-R-Proof Corp. and NOVUS organizations, including a consolidation of international sales efforts, product development and franchising into one operating group. A reorganization plan also has been undertaken to streamline the management of the Shat-R-Proof Corp. and NOVUS organization team. 

“Now more than ever we will be able to develop opportunities for continued expansion into existing and new industries while also providing the best support for our franchise network,” said Keith Beveridge, senior vice president.

A key structural change is the integration of the franchise marketing team with the NOVUS Inc. and Shat-R-Proof marketing group. “This new marketing structure allows for the unifying of resources and time, producing a more efficient environment for the whole organization,” says David Osland who was promoted to vice president-marketing and product development. He is responsible for all marketing, product development and manufacturing for Shat-R-Proof and NOVUS.

Leach Joins Belron 
Dave Leach, former vice president of Kryger Glass, Kansas City, Mo., has accepted the position of vice president of Belron Inc. Colorado and Wyoming.

In his new position, Leach is responsible for the sales and operation of 17 stores throughout the two states. He reports to Wes Topping, president of Belron Inc.

Leach is an active member of the Independent Glass Association as well as a member of the board of directors of the Chicago Auto Glass Group (CAGG), which has been working on the development of an alternative pricing system to the National Auto Glass Specifications (NAGS).

Levesque Joins Reid Manufacturing
Frank R. Levesque, formerly the national accessory sales manager of Pilkington North America, has accepted the position of national accounts manager with Reid Manufacturing, an auto glass hand tool manufacturer based in Coopersville, Mich. 

As part of his new assignment, Levesque is also a part-owner of Orions Knife Co. and vice president of sales.

Finance Move at Diamond Triumph
Diamond Triumph Auto Glass Inc., Kingston, Pa., has named Richard A. Wooditch chief financial officer. Prior to this appointment, he was the company’s vice president of finance and corporate controller. He is a certified public accountant.


PPG’s Bruner to Retire
Barry Bruner, account executive at PPG Automotive Replacement Glass (ARG), is retiring September 1, after 44 years with PPG Industries. 

He joined the Pittsburgh-based company in 1962 as a sales trainee in Akron, Ohio. He progressed to branch and later distribution center manager for the ARG business. In 1976, he was promoted to zone program manager and later held the positions of area representative, zone manager sales and marketing ARG, manager of direct account sales and marketing, director of sales and most recently account executive.


Carolyn Mullins Rack 
Carolyn Mullins Rack, former editor of Beyond Parts and Equipment, a collision industry newspaper, passed away April 24. A memorial service was held May 20 at Linworth Methodist Church, Columbus, Ohio. She was the mother of three, Nancy Mullins, Nick Mullins and Robert Mullins and grandmother of Morgan, Creed and Hunter Mullins.

A professional teacher of technical writing, she was the author of the book “A Guide to Writing and Publishing in the Behavioral Sciences” (1977). She was closely involved with the work of her first husband, Dr. Nicholas Mullins, at Harvard while he was writing about theory groups. She also authored a number of other books on a variety of subjects.

Carolyn’s husband, Phil Rack, with whom she co-edited and published Beyond Parts and Equipment, passed away earlier this year. She continued writing following her husband’s death. 

5 Minutes with Jeff Boekstein of Belron
Jeff Boekstein is group sales and marketing director for Belron and has worked for the company for 23 years. He is responsible for helping the company build its brand worldwide.

He sat down with AGRR magazine® for an exclusive interview with the publisher.

Q. Tell me a bit about your career.
A. I started in South Africa at Belron 23 years ago. I was an advertising manager and did advertising for our chain of auto glass shops. I performed various marketing duties there. In 1989, I went to London and got an MBA in 1991. Gary [Lubner, Belron CEO and president] was already there. That same year, we set up a strategic unit.

We had just started to acquire companies and [had] rolled out our strategy across Europe. We built our insurance and consumer brands that way. Before that, we had been subcontractors to the trade. Then I became general manager of Glass Medic.

Then I went back to South Africa to be the managing director of PG Glass. It is not part of Belron now but was part of the same group then. Three years later I was named vice president of sales and marketing for auto glass.

I left for a while and started an Internet company, which was a joint venture with Belron. We said to ourselves “the Internet has hit Europe. Let’s start our own business to try and understand it.” And it helped us to [do] that. Eventually we closed the business and it’s [now] lying dormant. 

Q. What did that business teach you?
A. It taught us to see the Internet as an online booking service. We bring potential customers in via the Internet and validate their insurance coverage for them. At this point we don’t allow them to validate that coverage online themselves. Eventually we will. We can do it technically already. We just have to [get] insurance companies to agree to it.

Q. I would imagine that it isn’t always easy to get people who have done something one way for a long time to change to a new way of doing things.
A. No, it’s not always, but setting up a measurement system takes the emotion out of it. I have done all these jobs in most of the countries. I am sensitive to what people go through. I take a lot of time to make sure people know I am not insensitive to their experiences. But it has always amazed me how much of what we do transfers from country to country.

Q. Like what? Can you give me some examples of things that have been very successful?
A. Like advertising. We get our best results from radio advertising. We started using radio extensively in Belgium, then we moved on to France. Now nine countries use it. The advertising is unique because it’s a long ad—it’s 60 seconds when most ads are 30 seconds. It stands out. We also use our own people in the ad and this helps build an image of those with whom the customer will be dealing. Ninety percent of our advertising is on the radio, so we know radio works.

Q. What doesn’t work? Can you give me an example of something that hasn’t worked well across various countries?
A. [Pause] The design of our vans [trucks]. A few years ago we had our vans redesigned by a design agency. We had them redesigned centrally without involving our countries in the process and that is why we did not get buy-in. We are now six months away from redesigning them again. We now have a multi-country team working on the new design. We spent a good deal of time trying to understand, to answer the question, “What is the van?” We came to the conclusion that the van is actually a moving billboard. 

Q. Has anything surprised you about the U.S. market?
A. Yes, that strong consumer brands have not emerged. You would think there would be some national brand strength, but there is not. 

Q. The U.S. is certainly a larger country than you are used to working in ...
A. It’s not that different here than how we do it in Europe. We haven’t tried to develop a European brand, but we do have strong country brands. The differences across the states are the same as those in Europe. We will have strong regional brands in the U.S. in much the same way we have strong country brands in Europe.

Q. Has anyone done a good job of branding here? 
A. [Laughs] Elite and Little Red Truck. [Belron owns both brands, as the recent acquisition Auto Glass Specialists is marketed as “Little Red Truck.”]

Q. How do you create a brand for the AGRR industry?
A. First, we spend a lot of time trying to understand the customer. We know the types of questions to ask. There’s not much difference in what people want. Some differences exist, but there are far more similarities than differences.

Q. Are you going to buy media for the United States from Europe? How do you plan on doing so?
A. We’re not sure yet. I expect each company here will be like a country in Europe. Each has a person in charge of buying media. We need to have a person who understands the local media. They must understand our business and who we want to target. We don’t use any global ad agencies for such things.

Q. Observers have suggested that Belron does not yet have its insurance program fully in place. There are no national call centers, for example. Do you expect to have them?
A. We are not quite sure what we want to be. We are working through insurance challenges. At the moment, we do not have a call center here, but that is the way we have done it successfully in other countries. Call centers have been highly successful for us. We prefer to have someone at a desk take calls. The local managers are busy with customers and don’t always have the time to handle calls. Call centers have worked everywhere we use them. 

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