Volume 10, Issue 4 - July/August 2008

IGA’s Three-Day Conference Filled with Opportunities for Attendees to Share and Learn

Often, conferences include downtime—or a seminar here or there that can be missed. You know the drill—the same information, same place, same speaker. But this year’s Independent Glass Association’s (IGA) conference was not one of those.

“I didn’t sit through any that I didn’t take something away from,” said Larry Hamilton of Hamilton Glass, who traveled from Newton, Iowa, to attend the event. The conference was held May 1-3 in Las Vegas at the Cashman Convention Center, where it was co-located with the Americas Glass Showcase.

The action-packed event kicked off with a presentation by IGA president Dave Zoldowski of Auto One in Brighton, Mich., who introduced some of the newest services available to members, including the new “Don’t Get Steered” comic book, available to members only (see box on page 45 for more information).

Chuck Lloyd of Minneapolis-based Livgard & Rabuse also shared with members some of the new services he’ll be offering them—including discounted rates for his services.

In the long term, he also hopes to create a network of attorneys who understand the glass business to be available to IGA members.

“There is against us an army of opposition,” Lloyd said. “It’s time to have our own army.”

NAGS on the Spot
Bud Oliver and James Patterson of National Auto Glass Specifications International (NAGS) also took center stage during the conference to answer attendees’ burning questions about NAGS and how it works.

One common question was: how does NAGS create the numbers in its catalogs?

Oliver explained that the numbers are generated by much research, much of which comes from shops who share their retail acquisition costs for glass.

“We’re constantly adjusting information,” Oliver said. “Anyone who wants to send their cost data is welcome to do that.”

“Why Do Insurers Care?”
As he took the stage to provide anti-steering tips, Corey Hemperly of Windshield Doctor in Pocatello, Idaho, asked, “‘Maybe consumers don’t care where they go—they just want their cars fixed.’ Does anyone remember who said this?” Hemperly was quoting Sen. Don Benton, who asked this very question at a hearing recently in Washington State.

“Had I been there, my question to that senator would have been, ‘why is it that insurers care where people go?’” Hemperly said. “Why are you bringing out all the guns to fight this type of thing?” 

Hemperly served on a panel formed to discuss this topic; the panel also included IGA board members Bryan Yarborough of Glass Doctor of Tampa, Rick Rosar of Rapid Glass and Shawn Newport of Star Auto Glass. 

An ‘Unfriendly’ Audience
The most memorable day of the conference came on Friday morning. Tom Feeney, then executive vice president of Belron US (see related story on page 32), spent more than an hour during the conference attempting to dispel many misconceptions he feels independent shop owners have about Safelite Solutions, the third-party administrator branch of the company.

“I thought hard about why I was coming to an audience called ‘unfriendly,’” he said. “In the end, I believe all our constituents will be served better by working together on things about which we do agree.”

After giving a bit of history on how Safelite came to develop its own network—in response to a need for shops in locations where there previously weren’t any—he took on what he said were the myths surrounding the company.

Among these was one issue he called “the elephant in the room”—steering.

“You give us way too much credit,” he said. “We’re not as good as you think we are. Why would we risk a major multi-million contract to give an extra replacement to one of our auto glass shops? We’d never risk our business by doing something illegal.” 

Trade Show Time
While many attended seminars and informational sessions, the Spring Auto Glass Expo™ saw several new brand-new product and tool launches.

One popular item was AEGIS Tools International’s brand-new SOLO™ II Windshield Setting Tool. The updated tool features a reversible arm to allow technicians to work from either the passenger or driver side of the vehicle (see related story on page 52).

Crystal Glass also launched a new tool—the “HammerHead.” The tool is designed to separate the lower corners of windshields that cannot be cut with a cold knife. It utilizes standard Extractor blades and is easily adjustable in length, so it fits right inside the installer’s toolbox. 

Doug Young, marketing manager for windshields.com, which was launched by TCG International in December 2007, also was on-hand to share the latest updates to the system. 

The company has changed the fee structure for the site; now, shops can get local vendor positions for free—and they only pay for referral leads. Likewise, shops have the option of declining a lead if they choose to do so, and are only charged for leads they take.

Sister company SRP shared a booth with windshields.com, in which it displayed both the BTB North America tool line, and its new Origin™ adhesive, which was launched earlier this year.

David Osland, vice president of marketing and product development for SRP, described the adhesive as a standard adhesive at a value price with good safe-drive away times. The adhesive has a safe drive-away time of four hours at 70 degrees Fahrenheit on a vehicle with dual airbags, according to information from SRP.

“We’re trying to help the glass shops save money,” Osland said. He added that the adhesive is available in a sausage pack (in addition to a cartridge), which also saves the shop money in packaging.

While many launched new products, SIKA Corp. sported a brand-new booth-unveiled for the first time at this show.

GTS Services, whose owner Scott Orth provided one of the most raved-about sessions of the conference, promoted its Internet marketing services during the show.

The company provides organic site optimization to glass shops, along with online market and competitive analysis, web analytics and even website design.

Mainstreet Computers launched the latest version of its Glas-Avenue software, 8.0, during the show. The updated software has more than 130 new features, including a new security system with login and groups, the ability to look up cities by zipcode, the ability to provide line item tax exemptions, integrated credit card authorization, a feature to map job locations (when connected to the Internet), a collections screen and report and flat glass progress billing.

Many commented that the traffic for the show was a bit heavier than those in the auto glass industry of late.

“I thought the floor traffic on Friday was much better than previous shows, not just the IGA shows, but all shows as of late,” said NAGS’ Bud Oliver. “Saturday’s traffic was also decent…”Mainstreet’s Mark Haeck agreed.

“Traffic to our booth was steady,” he said. “We’re pleased with the number of qualified prospects and their level of interest in both our software and web site development. I have to admit this show exceeded my expectations.”

Happy Attendees
Like those exhibiting, attendees of the conference and trade show walked away pleased they attended.

“[The comic book] was one of the most helpful tools I’ll take out of here,” said Randy Dietz of Atlas Windshield Repair in Beach, N.D.

He also noted he found particular help in the presentations of Chuck Lloyd of Livgard and Rabuse in Minneapolis, and Erica Eversman, chief counsel for Vehicle Information Services Inc., who spoke on both automotive and legal issues for shops.

The Internet marketing presentation by Scott Orth of GTS Services also was a popular session (see related story on page 10).

“I learned a lot on [Internet marketing] in a short period,” said Bill Rogers of Alabama Glastek Inc. in Birmingham, Ala.

Overall, he said the conference offered something for all in attendance.“I think everyone took something from it,” Rogers added.

Save the Date
Next year’s IGA Conference will be held May 14-16 at South Point Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. 

IGA Launches Comic Book: “Don’t Get Steered”
During last year’s Independent Glass Association’s (IGA) annual conference, consumer advocate Ralph Nader advised attendees during his keynote speech that a good way to gain recognition from legislators is to present a topic of concern in a form they could understand easily, such as a comic book. During this year’s annual conference, the IGA made that advice a reality, as it launched its own comic book, “Don’t Get Steered”—an illustrated depiction of what steering is and how it can affect independent shop owners.

“[The comic book’s] purpose is to educate consumers, lawmakers and others about the issues they face everyday trying to compete in a market that is controlled by competitor-administrators,” says IGA director of operations Patrick Smith.

The comic book was distributed to IGA members during the conference—and via mail to those not in attendance. In turn, they hope to distribute the comic book further to consumers, attorneys, lawmakers, insurance agents and judges, Smith says.

Smith says members are hoping the comic book will allow them to make a positive difference in their communities.

“The membership is very excited,” he says. “They feel this simple comic book will allow them to finally demonstrate what they fight against everyday.”

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