Volume 10, Issue 2 - March/April 2008

Hangin’ with Curtis Hooper
Best of Belron US Champion Gears Up for International Competition
by Penny Stacey

When Curtis Hooper of Fernandina Beach, Fla., traveled to Columbus, Ohio, in January for the Best of Belron’s United States competition, his goal was to finish in the top five of the 11 contestants present.

“But I won,” the first-place champion in the competition says humbly. Now, Hooper is packing his bags for another competition, the international Best of Belron competition in May. The competition, which draws competitors from regional and national competitions around the world, will be held in Nuneaton, United Kingdom, May 14-15.

Hooper, who has been in the auto glass industry for approximately 20 years, advanced to the national competition after taking first-place in his region’s competition in Charlotte, N.C. This is his second stint with Safelite/Belron US. He worked for the company in the early 1990s before returning three years ago.

“The benefits are great and the company’s great—and you get a chance [at events like this one] to show what you can do,” he says.

To pick its contestants from around the country, Belron US first selected technicians to take an online test by looking at their warranty and customer satisfaction rates. Once they were selected for having high rates of both, they took an online test, and the highest scorers went to regional competitions. 

Six of these were held throughout the United States, and the top two winners from each competition went to Columbus. (One of these was unable to attend due to a family emergency, leaving the competition with 11 contestants.)

The national competition consisted of another online test, a windshield repair, a sidelite replacement and a windshield replacement, along with a customer service interaction portion.

“Apparently I did the best, but from what I understand, it was very close,” Hooper says.

And how does Hooper feel about heading to the international competition?

“I think that’s going to be really intense,” he says. “You go up against 11 other guys that are the best in the United States, but now you’re going up against 25 that are the best in the world … You’re talking some of the best guys in the world to [handle] auto glass. To have an opportunity to compete in something like that [is something] I never thought would happen to me.”

Hooper took home $5,000 and a trophy from the competition; the winner in the United Kingdom competition will take home a full-year’s salary of $40,000.Brad Wilmoth, a technician from Grand Rapids, Mich., took second, and also will travel to the Best of Belron in May; he was awarded $2,000; Shawn Britt of Williamsburg, Va., took home third-place and $1,000.

The Event
While Hooper, Wilmoth and Britt eventually emerged as victorious, Glen Moses, technical quality manager for Safelite, says the competition was close.

“Partway through the day after the contestants had done the online quiz, customer service interaction and windshield repair, there were only five points separating the number-one contestant from the number-eleven contest,” he says. “It was close.”

Judging was based on a list of about 200 yes-or-no questions that Moses developed.

There were 22 total judges, two for each vehicle. The cars used in the competition were 2008 Nissan Altimas and the questions used were developed specifically for this vehicle.

Moses said in developing the competition—which the company only had a few months to do since it was purchased by Belron just last March—his main goals were to make it fun and fair.

“From all the feedback I got, those goals were met,” he says. “People had a lot of fun and thought it was fair … If you were to watch the contestants perform, pretty much the guys you expected to win did. Most of the guys who competed but did not win vowed that they’d be back next time.” 

Penny Stacey is the editor of AGRR magazine.

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