Volume 8, Issue 2        March/April 2006


A G R  R e p o r t s                
    breaking news


NSG to Acquire Pilkington

The boards of directors of Japan’s Nippon Sheet Glass (NSG) and Pilkington have announced they have reached an agreement on the terms of a cash acquisition by NSG of Pilkington. 

Under the terms of the acquisition, Pilkington shareholders will be entitled to receive $2.80 in cash for each Pilkington share held. Acquisition terms value the entire existing issued and to-be-issued share capital of Pilkington at approximately $3.5 billion(net of options proceeds), and the cash consideration payable for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Pilkington not already owned by the NSG Group at approximately $3.1 billion.

According to the announcement from Pilkington, upon completion of the acquisition, NSG intends to nominate Stuart Chambers, Pilkington’s current group chief executive, to the board of NSG. NSG expects that the executive directors of Pilkington (Stuart Chambers, Iain Lough, finance director, and Pat Zito, head of automotive), along with the rest of Pilkington’s senior management team, will remain with the combined group and that Stuart Chambers will lead the integration process for the combined glass activities.

At the time of the announcement, NSG owned 260,176,633 Pilkington shares, approximately 19.7 percent of Pilkington’s issued share capital.

“Over the past nine years Pilkington has significantly improved its cost structure to become leaner and more profitable,” said Stuart Chambers, group chief executive of Pilkington. “Recently Pilkington has moved to the third stage of its strategy, focusing on investments in the growing emerging markets of Russia, China, India and the Middle East. The combination with NSG will expand our geographic reach and enhance Pilkington’s position as a global ‘World Class’ glass manufacturer.”

Dates for Technician Olympics 2006 and AGRSS Conference Announced

The dates and locations for the 2006 Auto Glass Technician Olympics (AGTO) and the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS) Conference have been announced. 

The two industry events, which co-locate, will be held the end of October in Orlando, Fla. The Technician Olympics has been scheduled for October 29-31 at the Orange County Convention Center. The AGRSS Conference will be held just before the Technician Olympics, October 28-30, at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, near the Orange County Convention Center.

This is the second time around for both events, which had their inaugural outings last October in Las Vegas.

The Technician Olympics is co-sponsored by AGRR Magazine and the Independent Glass Association (IGA).

At the first Technician Olympics competition, 24 installers from all parts of the country participated in a closely-matched display of skills. The field of technicians was judged according to the AGRSS Standard by three long-time industry figures prominent in training: Bob Beranek, Automotive Glass Consultants, Steve Coyle, Performance Achievement Group (PAG), and Gilbert Gutierrez, Equalizer Industries and the Auto Glass Academy.

Corporate sponsors at the first Technician Olympics included Pilkington, Dow Automotive, eDirectGlass, Mainstreet Computers, SIKA Corp., A.N. Designs, Auto Glass Journal, EFTEC, Equalizer Industries, GTS Services, Hertz Corp., Mygrant Glass, Pipe Knife and glassBYTEs.com, the industry’s electronic newsletter.

Photographs of the event will also be available online and can be downloaded free of charge at www.agrrmag.com/olympics.php.

Information concerning the AGTO is available at glassexpos.com/agto.php. For information about the AGRSS conference visit agrss.com. 


PPG Acquires Assets of Independent Glass Distributors

PPG has acquired the assets of the wholesale distribution network of Independent Glass Distributors, part of Iowa Glass Depot.

“The acquisition will strengthen our ability to provide auto glass shops with high-quality products and services, especially in the Midwest,” said Marc Talbert, president of PPG Auto Glass.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Belron Acquires Auto Glass Specialists, Maverick Glass

Belron announced recently that its U.S. subsidiary has completed the acquisition of the vehicle glass repair and replacement business and associated assets of Auto Glass Specialists Inc. (AGS), which has headquarters in Madison, Wis. Together with previous acquisitions, announced earlier in the year, this marks a major step in the company’s strategy of strengthening its position across North America. 

“We are very excited about AGS joining our business in the U.S. market. AGS is known throughout the industry for its quality people, commitment to customer service and technical excellence. We are confident that this addition will strengthen our overall market position,” said Wes Topping, president of Belron Inc. 

His sentiments are echoed by Gary Lubner, chief executive officer of Belron.

“We are delighted that a company with the prestige and heritage of AGS will join the Belron Group and are excited about the opportunities for our newly expanded business in the important U.S. market. We are looking forward to a long and successful relationship with the AGS,” said Lubner.

Additionally, the company has announced the appointment of Rich Harrison as regional vice president/Midwest. Harrison has assumed responsibility for running AGS.

“Consolidation has been upon us for some time now. This ... continues that trend. I think small businesses— companies referred to as mom and pop shops—are going to survive and they have a place in the market,” said Bob Birkhauser, former owner of AGS. “Mid-size players are most vulnerable and that was the arena we were in. We had to merge or consider the drastic movement of downsizing.”

Though Belron’s acquisition of AGS seems sudden, particularly as it comes on the heels of the company’s purchase of certain assets of TCG International and within a year of purchasing Elite Auto Glass in Denver, Colo., Birkhauser explains that it wasn’t a rash decision to sell.

“I needed scale. [AGS has] a good model and strong branding, good market share and ability to get more, but I needed to leverage that and we needed more scale—more size. Administrative costs were top heavy and I needed to grow, not invest more into general and administrative expenses. We had to either acquire or merge with another entity. We started exploring both possibilities a couple of years ago and this is what happened,” Birkhauser explained.

Now that the transaction is complete and Harrison in place to lead the company known for its “little red trucks,” Birkhauser won’t be riding off into the sunset any time soon. He remains the owner of AEGIS Tools International. 

“I started AEGIS Tools back in the early ‘80s, and I’m going to have some fun building that business up now,” he said, explaining that the company already has plans to bring a new tool to the market in early 2006 and plans to develop other products are already in the works.

Though the sale of AGS to Belron raised some eyebrows and spurred discussions across the industry, Birkhauser is happy with the outcome.

“I’m very pleased we were able to align ourselves with Belron. I’ve known Belron people for more than 30 years,” he said. “They’re very committed to a lot of the ideals and professional standards that we’ve embraced at AGS and I think they’ll take it to the next level.”

Branding a Maverick

In early March, Belron announced that its U.S. subsidiary, Belron Inc., has entered into an agreement to acquire Maverick Auto Glass, Inc., headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz. This acquisition will provide Belron with a significantly enhanced presence in this rapidly expanding region of the U.S.

With this addition, Belron Inc. will operate more than 100 branches in the United States under trading names such as Elite Auto Glass™, Auto Glass Specialists®, Glaspro™, Windshield Pros™ and Maverick Auto Glass.

“We are delighted a company as outstanding as Maverick will join the Belron Group. We believe that the combination of the businesses will enable us to provide an enhanced service to our customers and are looking forward to welcoming the Maverick Auto Glass employees to Belron,” said Wes Topping, president of Belron Inc.

“I believe the fit between Belron and Maverick Auto Glass is excellent and will allow us to create a more successful business and also provide significant development opportunities for our employees,” said Gary Gifford, president of Maverick Auto Glass Inc. 


Collision Repair and Glass Meet 

Las Vegas Show Finds Similar Concerns by the Two Industries

by Charles Cumpston

Automotive aftermarket industry week the first week of November has to be one of the largest events held in Las Vegas. It consists of three shows: Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX), Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE).

The one most important to the AGRR industry is NACE, which was held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

A visit to NACE confirmed that the collision repair and auto glass replacement industries have a number of challenges in common.

In her address at the opening of the event, Geralynn Kottschade, chairman of NACE, said she sees the consumer as her industry’s client not the insurance companies. She made this point in discussing the Avery vs. State Farm case (See AGRR, November/December 2005, p21). “This case did not resolve the problems collision repairers face every day with parts that don’t meet the standards we demand in our shops or the pressure to use certain parts that we feel are substandard. An informed, consenting consumer works in our favor. The consumer will demand the right, quality part for their vehicle. Until we reach a point where the consumer is informed about the types of parts used in the repair and enable them to choose whether its aftermarket, OEM or recycled, the parts issue will continue to be of concern.”

She advised attendees to stay focused and work to make their businesses successful. “There are some real ugly things going on in our industry-in every industry. And though we cannot ignore what is going on, we can avoid becoming part of the problem,” she stated.

International Check-in

Win Parnall, operations manager for Extractor Crystal Glass, Edmonton, Alberta, said that the Canadian market is “slow” and that the company is getting 90 percent of its sales in the U.S. “The U.S. is a huge market and there are not that many competitors so it is a good situation for us,” he stated. Parnall also pointed out that the Canadian market is also waiting to see what the consequences of the Belron acquisition of Speedy is going to be.

Trevor Lock, director/manager, BTB Auto Glass and Body Shop Tools, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, said that what he thought was important concerning the collision repair and the auto glass industries was that the AGRR industry gets the message that the body shops are doing more of the glass work. “The body shops have down time and they want to avoid that so they do their own work because it’s generally a cracked windshield that being dealt with and they can do that,” he explained. He said that unbroken lites on the sides and the back are more difficult for body shops to handle.

Auto glass is a very small but steady presence at NACE and at the other two shows which make up Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. Next year’s event will be held the first week of November, again, in, you guessed it, Las Vegas.

Showtime in Vegas

John McMahan, account executive for CPI Divisions, West Concord, Minn., pointed out that his company, which offers supplies, was exhibiting at both the AAPEX and NACE shows. “Here is where we see the glass guys,” he stated of NACE.

While auto glass industry companies go back and forth between NACE and SEMA, those who were exhibiting at this year’s event say it is the one most relevant to the glass industry.

Joe Gold, president of Gold Glass Group, Bohemia, N.Y., explained the niche of the show this way. “The people who are at this show are the technicians. They actually fit cars that have been in accidents. SEMA is for people who are looking to put things on a car that’s already working.”

Ray Asbery, president, Equalizer Industries Inc., Round Rock, Tex., said that his company had exhibited at SEMA last year, but it was back at NACE. “This is the most important show for the glass industry, and there’s not as much crossover as you might think,” he said. “I’d estimated about 5 percent.”

That figure was echoed by Henri Goudsmit, division manager for AEGIS Tools International, Madison, Wis. “My estimate is that there is a 5 to 10 percent crossover from the other shows being held here this week,” he said. He pointed out that he was seeing his foreign customers at the NACE show. “They have come here specifically for this show from Italy and Japan,” he explained.

Bob Nilsson, A.N. Designs Inc., Torrington, Conn., described his company’s presence at the show this way, “We’re here for support.”



Glass Doctor® on “Bond’s Top 100 Franchises” List

According to a company press release, Glass Doctor® was recently named as one of the 2005 “Bond’s Top 100 Franchises,” a list created by an independent organization that evaluates more than 2,300 franchise systems without the influence of paid advertising.

“This is an immense honor,” Mark Dawson, president of Glass Doctor, said. “We are proud of our Glass Doctor franchisees and the quality services they provide to our customers. It is rewarding for the entire Glass Doctor team to be recognized in ‘Bond’s Top 100’ and to be included as a part of this elite group.”

Bond’s Top 100 Franchises, published by Source Book Publications, breaks down the franchising industry into three groups: food-service, retail and service-based, where Glass Doctor is featured.

The criteria for choosing the top franchises consist of historical performance, brand identification, market dynamics, franchisee satisfaction, the level of franchise training and on-going support, financial stability and other key factors.


AGRR Establishes “Hall of Shame” for Pictures of Improper Installations

At the request of visitors to the AGRR message boards, a new “Hall of Shame” has been established to highlight and document improper installations, what they look like and the effects they have on cars and the industry.

“It makes me sick when I see a vehicle only a few years old, and the windshield [has] been replaced more than once, you can tell by the levels of rust from the first cut out and each one after,” a message board regular using the handle XXX wrote recently, as part of a discussion that led to the request for a page of pictures and testimonials as to jobs improperly done that require extensive work before a safe installation is completed.

Auto glass technicians who come across a previously performed job that is sub-standard and would like to share the experience with others via the Hall of Shame are asked to submit a digital photo of the job, along with a brief description of what was done incorrectly. Additionally, each picture published will include the name and shop of the installer who discovered and fixed the problem.

The Hall of Shame is housed at www.agrrmag.com/shame.htm. Photos and information can be submitted to AGRR webmaster Bryan Hovey at bhovey@agrrmag.com.

Announcing the First Edition of Who’s Who in the Architectural Glass Industry

Key Communications Inc., publisher of USGlass, magazine has announced it will publish the debut edition of Who’s Who in the Architectural Glass and Medal Industry this year. This exciting publication will recognize and honor leaders of the architectural glass and glazing industry for their accomplishments and achievements—only the most important industry leaders were considered for this honor.

Who’s Who in the Architectural Glass and Medal Industry will be published completely separate from USGlass magazine and will feature more than 250 listings. It will also be printed as a hardcover edition.



All 2005 Technician Olympic Finalists Represent AGRSS Registered Shops

All three medallists, and all four finalists, at the inaugural Auto Glass Technician Olympics (AGTO) represented Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS)-registered shops. Though the event was not associated with the AGRSS Conference that took place in the days immediately preceding the event, being employed at a registered company gave all four finalists—Jeff Olive with GlassPro Inc., Lynn Lovetinsky with Auto Glass Center, Randy Chadwick also with GlassPro Inc. and Carl Sorrels with Northwest Windshields Inc.—the benefit of being familiar with the Standard.

Inadvertently, Lovetinsky and Sorrels did not have the AGRSS logo on their profiles in the last issue of AGRR (AGRR, January/February 2005, p58). AGRR regrets the omission.

The 2006 Auto Glass Technician Olympics has been scheduled for October 29-31 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The event, co-sponsored by the Independent Glass Association and AGRR magazine, will once again follow the AGRSS Conference, which is sponsored 
by the AGRSS Council. For more information, visit www.glassexpos.com/agto.php


Globe Amerada Glass Network becomes Gerber National Glass Services

The Globe Amerada Glass Network, America’s oldest auto glass network founded in 1971, has changed its name to Gerber National Glass Services. Gerber Collision & Glass acquired the assets of the Globe Amerada Glass Network in January 2005.

“The change of our name to Gerber National Glass Services not only reflects the new ownership’s name, it more importantly reflects the shared values and goals we have with Gerber,” stated Mark Flasch, long time general manager of the Globe Amerada Glass Network. “Each company has a strong track record and ongoing commitment to providing quality, timely, cost effective services in a customer friendly environment to our automotive insurance and fleet management clients and to their customers.”

“We are proud to have the Globe Amerada Glass Network carry the Gerber banner. The name change reflects the completion of integration of the Network into Gerber as well as the beginning of a focused growth plan,” said Eddie Cheskis, CEO of Gerber Collision & Glass. “We are very excited about Gerber National Glass Service’s abilities to bring significant value to its clients and, from bringing that value, to gain market share,” he added. 

NAGS to Flag Two- Person Installations

National Auto Glass Specifications Inc. (NAGS), based in San Diego, has begun noting auto glass installations that require two persons beginning with its latest catalog.

“We are footnoting all the glass parts that NAGS believes require two people to install,” said director of product operations Bud Oliver. “This is something our customers asked for, and we’ve worked to meet their needs.

“It’s another way NAGS remains responsive to the marketplace.” 

Oliver said that the Winter NAGS catalog which was issued earlier this year included the footnote for the two-person installations.

© Copyright 2006 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.