Volume 9, Issue 6 - November/December 2007

Expert Advice
pros who know

Is Green Right or Left?
by Kerry Wanstrath

For those that didn’t attend the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) conference in Las Vegas in November you missed, in my humble opinion, the most informative and telling discussion I have ever heard presented at a NWRA conference. While there where many informative parts presented, the timeliest was the presentation on windshield repair “being green” by Mike Boyle of GlasWeld Systems. 

The information wasn’t just about windshield repair being a green alternative to replacement, but it also presented facts and statistics relating to consumers’ buying habits, eating habits and trends in thinking and living and lifestyle choices. This information showed where we are headed as a country.

Perhaps some in attendance may have initially thought the NWRA was moving far to the left, but to most I think it quickly became apparent this isn’t about politics at all. It is about reversing decades and perhaps a century of excesses in consumption and thoughtless self-indulgent behavior.

The How of It All
How does this all relate to windshield repair? Well, by definition windshield repair (or, for that matter, any repair) is green in that it saves something from being needlessly discarded. Also, it is saving the energy it takes to produce that product. Repairing a windshield also saves thousands of tons of glass from landfills every year. This in itself is reason enough to promote repairing glass when ethically possible. A windshields is different than a piece of flat glass in that it is laminated and has a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer, which cannot be separated easily from the two layers of glass. This interlayer makes windshields essentially non-recyclable.

The Old Way
Independents traditionally have used the economical benefits of repair to sell their services. That remains a strong benefit and incentive for a customer to elect repair, but I propose in the not-too-distant future many consumers will be more motivated by the ‘green’ benefits of choosing a repair over a replacement. In many areas of this country this is already the case. I live in Colorado and frequently travel to Hawaii; both of these states and many other states are adopting green requirements as it relates to many facets of our daily life. 

We should be promoting the green benefits of repair as the primary benefit of repair over replacement. This benefit cannot be denied. One can argue even the economical benefit of repair over replacement if they want. But the green benefits cannot be argued or ignored. For once repair has the ability to be in an offensive position in the auto glass market. For years “repair” has been in a defensive posture, always on its’ heels, reeling for one attack after another. 

Now the green climate of the world has changed opening a door for environmentally friendly products and services of which repair is both. You as a businessperson can and should align your company so you can in all good conscience benefit from your service. I say “in all good conscience” because you too need to do more than just say you’re green because you repair—that isn’t enough. There are many, many things you can do to either save energy or resources to participate honestly in slowly becoming green. 

On the Offense
I encourage our trade associations to apply pressure on insurance companies that have chosen to turn their backs on repair or don’t actively promote it to their customers. The networks are equally guilty by continually reducing the fee for service as a means to secure contacts. Repair should be viewed as the first option. Furthermore, because of the financial and green benefits of repair, the fee for the service is undervalued. In Japan, where the benefits of repair are appreciated, the fee for repair is approximately three times our average fee.

It is time the repair industry stick its chest out and hold its head up. (And, for those that may be wondering, I’m a registered Republican.) 

Kerry Wanstrath is president of Glass Technology Inc. in Durango, Colo. Mr. Wanstrath’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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