Volume 11, Issue 5 - September/October 2009

Field of Vision
from the editor

An Independent View
by Penny Stacey

It seems that whenever I talk to those on the outside about the auto glass industry and how it works, they are surprised about its intricacies. Consumers who’ve had to have a windshield or other auto glass part replaced never seem to grasp how this industry sector works. Even consumer advocate Ralph Nader expressed shock when he learned about the industry during an Independent Glass Association Conference in 2007, calling the entire structure of the industry “just bizarre.”

So we weren’t sure what would happen when we sent an independent business consultant, Frank Baitman of Baitman and Associates, into the depths of the industry to get an independent perspective. Baitman has more than 20 years of experience researching and developing strategies in numerous industries and spent many years with IBM in the company’s corporate strategy department. And, while he has a ton of experience with corporate strategy and looking at business from an outsider’s perspective, this was his first look at the auto glass industry. His first assessment was a simple yet powerful one. “It’s all @#$@-ed up,” he told us.

“Baitman looks not only at
how the global economy is affecting the auto glass industry, but also
at how shops on an invididual level work to combat such changes.”

Some of his findings are surprising; others are not. You can read an excerpt of Baitman’s report on page 28. He looks not only at how the global economy is affecting the auto glass replacement industry, but also at how shops on an individual level work to combat such changes—and what they see as the industry’s biggest issues.

I think this article will give you a unique perspective—and some fun insight—at the industry in which you work each day.

On page 32, you’ll find another enlightening article—an inside look at Safelite’s manufacturing facility in Enfield, N.C. Whether or not your business utilizes glass from the company, this article provides an exclusive glance at some of the company’s manufacturing processes and quality checks—all of which I hope you’ll find as fascinating as I did.

We’re also here busily preparing for Auto Glass Week™ in Las Vegas. One of the major parts of this is the competitions that take place during the week—the Fifth Annual Auto Glass Technician Olympics and the Fourth Annual Walt Gorman Memorial Windshield Repair Olympics. One question I often hear among readers who haven’t participated in these events is: Why? Why participate? Why take the time? And so we’ve attempted to answer those questions by speaking to the owners of some of the past winners about the impact the company’s technicians’ success has had on business. See page 24 for that story.

I hope to see many of you in Las Vegas at the upcoming events.

Penny Stacey is the editor of AGRR magazine/glassBYTEs.comTM

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