Volume 12, Issue 3 - May/June 2010

Independent’s Day
an iga viewpoint

Independents Fight Back
by David Zoldowski

I’ve often remarked in my columns that there is a lot to be said about strength in numbers. This can be even more critical when it comes down to supporting or defeating legislation initiatives at the state level. Lately, this has been more evident than usual. Since the beginning of 2010, the auto glass industry has seen a flurry of legislative activity across the country. The mere fact that legislation is now addressing a range of issues within the AGRR industry, and in so many states, is indicative that all is not right in the industry. Whether a bill under consideration is deemed to be pro-independent or pro-insurer, independents must align in mass to ensure that the final bill must not tip the scale any further in favor of the insurance industry.

In Arizona, recent bills made the news as independents fought for their voices to be heard. The Arizona Glass Association (AGA) worked with legislators to try and make positive changes to bills that could have been potentially damaging implications for consumer choice and auto glass shops in Arizona and eventually across the country. As of the writing of this article, one bill went down to defeat, while the other had just been signed. Unfortunately, the bill that was just signed into law is bad legislation and anti-consumer. Introduced under the premise that it was anti-fraud, the bill was in actuality an effort to allow insurers to tighten their grip on marketing practices pertaining to windshield repair. The value of associations like the AGA and the Independent Glass Association (IGA) in situations like Arizona is priceless. These associations can provide structure for a grass-roots effort and possess tools to both inform membership and the public about why they should get involved and more importantly, why they should care.

“As business owners we owe it to our employees, communities and families
to care enough to stand up for our industry.”

Get Involved

In our daily lives filled with paying our bills and running our businesses, it’s often too easy to sit back and think that someone else will make the difference for you. As business owners we owe it to our employees, communities, and families to care enough to stand up for our industry. I urge all independents to get involved in their local or state associations, write letters to their representatives and talk to everyone about the unfair business practices that are taking place currently.

As the legislative debates in Arizona appear to be over for now, independents need to regroup and prepare for the next showdown. In a recent story, glassBYTEs.com™/AGRR magazine published comments by AGA president, Rex Altree. In his comments, Altree urged others to get involved and ask for assistance when needed. “Our head was down and we were so focused on our world that we didn’t seek help from the IGA during that period, or maybe the auto body shops … People who’ve been through it before are the people with the knowledge,” he said. “We were trying to reinvent the wheel, where it’s already been done in these other states, and we can glean a lot of knowledge and insight from these other associations.”

With new legislation on the horizon in various states many independents are hard at work trying to create changes. The IGA continues to add state chapters to the association that are serving as powerful outlets to both introduce legislation, defeat legislation and band together. By gathering independents together in your local area it provides an opportunity to work toward a common goal using the same means, to include letter writing, education or networking. If you want to get involved with the creation of your state’s chapter, contact the IGA and we will provide you any assistance that you might need.

Legislation and having the law on our side is our biggest tool, but there is certain data and information that will help you on your quest to legally change our industry. Anytime you experience an incident of steering, report it using the IGA Steering Report Form (you can find this report by going to www.iga.org and clicking on “Report Steering”). You can also file a complaint with your state insurance commissioner using the tools on the IGA website (go to www.iga.org and find the complaint link at the bottom of the page). Finally, get in touch with us at the IGA. We have contacts across the country and can get you in touch with the proper authorities.

David Zoldowski is the president of Auto One in Brighton, Mich., and president of the Independent Glass Association (IGA). Mr. Zoldowski’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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