Volume 10, Issue 2 - March/April 2008

Tucson Time
Annual Meeting in Sunny Arizona
by Penny Stacey and Charles Cumpston

To figure out the future of the industry—a burning question on most of our minds—one doesn’t need a crystal ball, one just needs a newspaper, according to Don Ableson, president of Ableson Consulting LLC and former executive director of the North American Specialty Vehicle Activity for General Motors. Ableson pointed out a number of automotive headlines from the last few months at the recent auto glass conference in Tucson, Ariz.

“These headlines are precursors of evolutionary changes that will be happening to our industry,” he said in his keynote address. Ableson opened the conference on February 12 to an audience of about 60 people. He pointed out a variety of recent of headlines that have appeared in the news, such as ones dealing with changing global economics, various economic factors throughout the world and the fuel issues the world has been experiencing. He also noted that with the economy in its current state, what customers are looking for is changing too.

“To succeed as a business today, you must have the highest quality and the lowest price,” Ableson said, adding that this is compelling many manufacturers to outsource parts.

Profits and People
After Ableson’s discussion, the group broke into small groups to discuss a variety of topics from sales and profit to utilizing technology.

Richard Voreis of Consulting Collaborative moderated a session on increasing sales and profits. Voreis had attendees fill in a 13-question self-assessment of their businesses, which focused on the communication between management and employees.

He then asked attendees to share what they had done to increase sales at their companies. One person indicated that he had hired an outside salesperson, while another said conducting continuing education courses for insurance agents had been successful.

A lengthy discussion of yellow pages versus Internet as a marketing tool followed. Most said that they are finding the Internet more successful and that increases in the cost of yellow pages advertising is making the decision to switch easier. However, it was mentioned that the price of advertising online is also increasing as more companies are using it and bidding on the costs of placement.

Incorporating TechnologyJ
oel Timmons, founder and president of Profitable Glass Solutions and the author of a bi-weekly blog on AGRR’s daily e-news site, glassBYTEs.com™, held a session on incorporating technology into your business for efficiency purposes. Attendees also brainstormed ideas for software needed to help with this. One hot topic was the recent DOT 430 recall, and how additional technology could have made this easier for shops to pull records to find out when and where the recalled DOT 430 glass had been used (see related story on page 14).“We register the glass parts and write them down, but to find these pieces, we’ve got to get this information into some kind of form,” said Dave Burns of Ray Sands Auto Glass in Rochester, N.Y.

Safe Shops
While safety is usually a big topic, it almost always focuses on the safety of installations, but Charles Turiello of Diamond Triumph Glass actually focused on safety of workers in his discussion.

“The message has to be communicated on a daily basis,” Turiello said. He suggested that shops form safety committees and contact OSHA to help define best practices for their businesses.

“A lot can fall under the best practices umbrella,” he said.

Green is Good
The conference’s first day ended with a panel session called “Green is Good.” And at least three of the four speakers on the panel had something in common—they’re all conservatives who insist they’re not “tree-huggers.” Mike Boyle, president of GlasWeld Systems in Bend, Ore., Burns, and Doug Linderer, president of Go-Glass Corp. in Salisbury, Md., all preceded their discussion of how their companies have gone green with similar statements about how they never expected to become environmentalists. But, they all have, in some form or another.

Boyle provided an overview of how his company has gone green, even by changing their light bulbs into green-friendly ones, and advised how businesses can utilize green ideologies to their benefit. “Every decision we make is based on the question, ‘is it environmentally sustainable?’” Boyle said.

Burns actually asked a local power authority to audit his company and advise how the company could save energy. Linderer said he started to go green when he read the book “Contract with the Earth,” and soon realized that if he didn’t start to make his company green, eventually it could be mandated by the government.

“If you don’t construct an environmental energy platform, someone else will do it for you. Do you want the government to do that for you?” Linderer asked.

His company’s motto has been to follow the three R’s: reduce, re-use and recycle. “There are as many ways to go green as there are to play golf,” Linderer said.

Pat Farrell, vice president of corporate responsibility and communications for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, also participated in the panel, and advised how his national rental car company has taken steps to become environmentally friendly.

“Our goal is to ensure that our passenger vehicles and the fuel they use are acceptable to society,” he said.

The company also has partnered with the National Arbor Day Foundation, and has developed a website, www.keystogreen.com.

Next Year
While this year’s conference, unlike years past, was designed to be more of a management forum than a trade show, those in attendance seemed to have found what they were looking for.

Next year’s auto glass conference—likely the last one as we know it—will be held in Orlando, Fla., February 18-20 at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. Leo Cyr, vice president of the NGA’s auto glass division, announced during the conference that the conference likely will migrate into GlassBuild America in 2010. 

For an expanded version of this article, visit www.agrrmag.com.

Penny Stacey and Charles Cumpston are editor and contributing editor, respectively, of AGRR magazine.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.