Volume 9, Issue 4 - August/September 2007

AGR Reports
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AAA Mid-Atlantic Adds Glass

AAA Mid-Atlantic has added auto glass repair and replacement to the array of services it offers. Tom McLaughlin, manager of approved auto repair for AAA Mid-Atlantic, took the time out to share the details of the program with AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.com™. 

Currently, the business is strictly mobile and will handle a 25-mile area radius from Newcastle, Del. However, McLaughlin advises that the business has a number of facilities at its disposal, should the need arise.

“AAA has a network of approved auto facilities,” McLaughlin says. “We have locations throughout the area. We have a lot of advantages that most glass companies don’t with our infrastructure. We have a lot of under-roof facilities available to us.” While the program currently is offered in the Newcastle area only, AAA plans to expand quickly. 

“We’re definitely up and running and looking to grow,” says Brian Van Wyk, auto glass manager. Van Wyk previously worked for the Columbus, Ohio-based Safelite Glass Corp. as both a store manager and area sales manager in the Philadelphia area. 

McLaughlin adds that Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS) registration also is in the near future for AAA. “We want all the certifications and bells and whistles and all that stuff,” he says. “That’s the AAA way.” 

When asked how soon he hopes to register the company with AGRSS, McLaughlin replies, “as soon as physically possible.” 

Currently, AAA Mid-Atlantic has two technicians on staff and one apprentice. “We’re very active, and we’re going to grow this thing as quickly as possible,” McLaughlin says.

While AAA does offer insurance, its original purpose was to serve as a not-for-profit company that functions as an automotive services company. Members of the club receive a variety of auto services, from flat tire repairs to tow service. The auto glass replacement and repair services will be offered to members and non-members alike; members will receive a discounted rate. 

As for working with insurers with the new auto glass program, McLaughlin notes that AAA will work as a liaison for the customer as any other auto glass shop might. 

“We will do any leg work that will be needed for the customer as far as seeing if the insurance company will cover the glass, as far as the deductible is concerned,” he says. “That’s where having an experienced manager is extremely helpful.” 

To obtain auto glass services from AAA, the company has set up an auto glass line for customers to call, through which a CSR will dispatch services for them in the Newcastle area. www.aaamidatlantic.com

Wagner vs. Pilkington to Go to Trial
A suit filed against Pilkington North America, General Motors Corp. and Rhodes Chevrolet has been revived by the Supreme Court of Arkansas at the appeal of the plaintiff. 

The Supreme Court of Arkansas determined that a trial will now be held in the case, which was dismissed in January 2006 when Pilkington’s motion for summary judgment was granted. The suit was filed by Lisa Wagner, the mother of Stephanie Wagner, who was killed in an automobile accident on April 11, 2001. 

The driver, Stephanie Wagner, allegedly was ejected from the vehicle through the driver’s sidelite, which was shattered. Her mother’s complaint alleges that “Pilkington negligently designed, manufactured and distributed the glass used in the side windows of the 2007 Blazer because the glass did not minimize the possibility of the driver being ejected from the vehicle in the rollover accident.” 

In January 2006, Pilkington filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it had no design responsibilities for the glass, did not recommend the materials used in the glass and manufactured the glass according to the specifications of GM. According to court documents, Pilkington further claimed that the glass was free from manufacturing defects and claims that Wagner failed to prove proximate cause in her daughter’s death. 

The motion for summary judgment was granted, but Wagner is now appealing this, saying that the court “erroneously granted Pilkington’s motion for summary judgment.” According to the court documents, the investigating officer at the scene of the accident says Wagner was not wearing a seatbelt and was driving without a license and without adult supervision. 

Officials from Pilkington North America could not be reached for comment. 

Anti-Steering Suit Against Progressive Insurance to Continue in New York
An anti-steering case filed by North State Custom vs. Progressive Insurance Inc. in Westchester Civil Supreme Court will continue through the New York court system, despite Progressive’s motion to have the case dismissed. Judge Gerald E. Leohr dismissed Progressive’s motion in early July, according to Greg Coccaro, president of North State, a body shop in northern New York.

“What had happened was that [Progressive] based [its] motion to dismiss on Regulation 2610, which is an anti-steering regulation, and they said that we had no private right of action, and only a governmental agency has a right of action,” Coccaro says. “We had eight clauses of action including tortuous interference and general business law 349, which is [about] deceptive business practices … [Progressive] said all of the causes of action were thinly veiled, based on steering, so the whole case should be thrown out, and the judge disagreed.” 

The suit, which was filed on March 16, 2007, alleges that Progressive has been steering customers away from North State, and into its Direct Repair Program and/or Concierge program by making “misleading and knowingly false and/or exaggerated statements” about the shop and other independent body shops.

North State Custom is represented by Anthony J. Mamo, Esq., of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., and Progressive is represented by Michael R. Nelson, Esq., of Blue Bell, Pa. Neither Mamo nor Nelson was available for comment at press time. 

AGRSS Council Celebrates Ten Years
The Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) Council celebrates its tenth year in existence this year. The AGRSS Standard, which was accepted by ANSI in February 2000, was first conceived in 1997 by then Independent Glass Association president Carl Jolliff, who came together with others to form a committee to write the standard and seek ANSI acceptance. Since that time, the Council has added a registration program and recently launched a consumer awareness program. 

AGRSS Council chairperson Cindy Ketcherside of JC’s Glass in Phoenix says the group has made great progress in the past ten years toward its goals.

“Over the past ten years, AGRSS has made a significant difference in the auto glass industry,” she says. “Glass companies, as well as their technicians, are now conscious that this industry is not just in the glass business, but in the safety business. AGRSS has taken any guesswork out of how a windshield should be in stalled to protect the occupant of a car.” 

Carl Tompkins, chair of the AGRSS credentialing committee and Western sales manager for the Sika Corp., echoes Ketcherside on this occasion.

“We have made an incredible amount of progress in establishing a new foundation built around the concept of safe auto glass installations,” Tompkins says. “While I’m extremely grateful with all of the hard work and accomplishments we have made, I’m certainly not nearly satisfied, because my view is that all parties involved with auto glass must do everything possible to make sure that every auto glass replacement is done in a safe manner, and what that has turned out to mean is that all auto glass is installed in accordance with the AGRSS Standard.” 

What’s in the future for the Standard? 

“In the next ten years, I expect that the ultimate mission will be met for glass shops doing auto glass will only compete and be caused to compete with those companies that do AGRSS-compliant work,” Tompkins says, “period.” 

The Council will celebrate its tenth anniversary at its annual conference, which will be held October 31 through November 3 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Mygrant Opens Memphis Distribution Center

Mygrant Glass Co. has opened its 45th location in Memphis, Tenn. 

“We are excited to provide our extensive range of inventory and aggressive service to our valued customers,” says Paul Anaya, marketing manager for Mygrant. 

The new branch will be managed by Judy Wiley and will be located at 3130 Fleetbrook Drive in Memphis. 

GTS Expands into Collision Repair, Flat Glass
GTS Services in Portland, Ore., has announced that it is extending its Internet marketing services into other markets, such as collision repair. In addition, it is expanding its glass business software to support residential and commercial glazing. 

“Traditionally, GTS software has been a great fit for the full-service glass company doing both auto and flat glass,” says GTS president Mike Jones. “As the diversification trend continues in the auto glass market and GTS partners with its customers to deliver enhanced residential and commercial glazing capabilities, everybody wins …” www.gtsservices.com 

Faulty Primer on Equinox and Torrent Caused by Human Error

The possibility of faulty primer being used on the 2007 Chevrolet Equinox and 2007 Pontiac Torrent was caused by human error, according to Terry Rhadigan, director of Chevrolet Communications. According to Rhadigan, when consumers return their vehicles for the recall, the vehicles are actually returned to the plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, where they were manufactured and inspected to determine if the incorrect primer was used. Both Pontiac and Chevrolet are divisions of General Motors Corp. (GM). Rhadigan says vehicle owners will be provided with “alternate transportation” while the vehicles are in Canada.

“Because of the circumstances, we obviously take safety issues very seriously, so we ended up sending the vehicles back to the plant,” he says.If it is discovered that the incorrect primer was used on the vehicle, the plant will replace the its windshield, liftgate glass and stationary sidelites, so that the glass will meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety (FMVS) Standard No. 212, “Windshield Mounting.”

“It’s just an adhesion issue,” Rhadigan says, “which obviously would be out of compliance with the FMVS Standard.”

Rhadigan adds that the plant where the vehicles were manufactured was CAMI Automotive Inc., a joint venture between GM and Suzuki. However, he says no Suzuki vehicles were affected.

As to how many vehicles have been returned, Rhadigan says GM does not have that data yet. “It’s incumbent on how many people bring the vehicles back in,” he says, adding that the total population of the Equinoxes and Torrents made during this time was 10,000. 

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Entrepreneur Names NOVUS® One of the Top Home-Based Franchise Businesses 

Entrepreneur magazine’s 2007 July issue ranks NOVUS Franchising Inc. as the number-one auto glass franchise out of the top 101 home-based franchises. NOVUS was ranked number 15 on the list for home-based franchise business and ranked number 65 in overall franchise opportunities. www.novusglass.com 

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