Volume 11, Issue 3 - May/June 2009

AGR Reports
breaking news powered by glassBYTEs.com™

PGW Makes Layoffs; Restructures Manufacturing Operations

Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) laid off a number of employees at the beginning of April, and restructured its manufacturing operations. Though the company would not provide specific numbers on how many were laid off, several senior managers were among these, including Jim Latch, senior vice president of commercial business; Lee St. John, vice president of distribution and customer service; Bob Rossey, manager of sundry products; and Dick Heilman, vice president of marketing and research and development.

The company attributed the layoffs to several goals, including an elimination of redundancy in the company.

“These decisions were taken with three objectives in mind: First, to improve efficiency, speed and decision making; to get key management decision makers engaged closer to where the work is being done by flattening the organization with greater spans of control; and finally, to eliminate redundant layers of management, bureaucracy and waste,” said James D. Wiggins, chairman and chief executive officer.

Management in the areas of finance, human resources and systems; manufacturing operations and engineering under the company’s chief operating officer; and leaders responsible for the company’s automotive-OEM, automotive replacement glass (ARG) and services businesses now will report directly to Wiggins.

In addition, the company made several promotions as part of the re-organization. Gary Eilers was promoted to vice president and general manager of the company’s services business; he will now handle LYNX Services, the Prostars Alliance Network and the GTS/Glaxis operations. Marc Talbert now serves as vice president and general manager of PGW’s ARG business unit with responsibility for all aftermarket glass operations. Jim Shepherd was appointed vice president and general manager of the company’s automotive-OEM business with responsibility for sales, marketing, design, program management and advanced product development.

PGW’s separate staff marketing function also was eliminated, and various business unit leaders are now be responsible for the advanced development and marketing of their products and services, according to the company’s statement.

At the manufacturing level, each of the company’s four satellite operations managers will report to the plant manager of the fabrication plant responsible for the majority of product flowing through the satellite to the customer. The company’s separate satellite management structure was eliminated.

PGW’s automotive replacement glass (ARG) business also was restructured and it combined the U.S. and Canadian branch operations and Chillicothe operations. Branch managers now will report to regional managers, who in turn will report directly to the vice president and general manager of ARG. Regional and branch managers will be responsible for developing business in their respective regions.

The company previously had laid off 150 employees throughout the company in December 2008. 

Former Diamond Store Manager Returns from Iraq But His Job is Gone

When Eric Justice, former store manager for Diamond Glass in Louisville, Ky., was deployed to Iraq with the National Guard in January 2008, he probably didn’t expect his company to file for bankruptcy and be sold to Belron US while he was gone. He also probably didn’t expect to return home to find he no longer had a job. But that’s exactly what he says happened.

“I returned on February 15 and my store was one of the stores that closed,” Justice says. “I went into the Louisville, Ky., Safelite store to obtain my job and was told by Todd Hoffman, the general manager for Louisville, that I had no job there.”

Justice adds, “They kept everyone else from my store except me. I was told that they did not need me.”

Belron US spokesperson Jenny Cain says the company’s policy is to grant a leave of absence to any associate who is called to active military duty.

“We follow the Uniform Services Employment and Rights Reemployment Act (USERRA) and even go beyond that when we can to ensure that our associates that leave work to serve our country are treated fairly,” says Cain.

However, Cain says that in Justice’s case, his job was eliminated during the Diamond consolidation.

“In this case it was unfortunate that the associate’s job was eliminated while he was on military leave and the location where he was employed was closed as part of the store consolidation after Belron US acquired Diamond Glass,” says Cain. “Upon his return, the store where he was previously a store manager no longer existed and, unfortunately, there were not any open store manager or technician positions in the market.”

Cain says that what happened to Justice was unfortunate, but is not the norm.

“We make every effort to care for the military men and women that work for us and this is evident by the nomination we received in 2008 for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their outstanding support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve,” she says.

USERRA, the law designed to provide protection for those whose absence from their jobs is caused by call to active duty in the military, says that the employer is not required to re-employ a person if “the employer’s circumstances have so changed as to make such re-employment impossible or unreasonable.” 

Justice is now working to open his own business, Auto Glass Solutions LLC, in Louisville. During his 15 months in Iraq, his unit, the 223rd Military Police Co., helped to train local Iraqi police and to secure their area of operation. He was stationed in Baghdad at Camp Liberty. 

Within days of a story about Justice appearing on AGRR’s online news service, glassBYTEs.com™, he received numerous offers from industry associates offering to help him with his new business. Both GTS Services and NAGS offered him a software system, and Auto One in Brighton, Mich., offered to waive the franchise fees for him to set up his own Auto One franchise (see related story on page 32).

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