Volume 33, Number 5, May 1998


High-Tech Training

One Reporter's Insights and Experiences

It happens all the time. People spend time with others to gain an accurate picture of what it's really like to live a certain way of life. A high school student may "shadow" a doctor to learn more about this profession. Or an auto glass reporter new to the industry may participate in a technical training seminar to learn more about the work of repair technicians and replacement installers.

The first scenario is a generic one, but the second describes the time I spent in March at the technical glass repair and replacement training seminar conducted by the Performance Achievement Group (PAG) in Madison, WI. PAG conducts this and other training sessions such as customer service, management and computer applications, on a monthly basis. Its courses help both new and veteran glass installers learn about the latest technology and safety in installation, according to PAG.

Participants of the March session work for companies such as Auto Glass Specialists, PPG Industries and Visteon. At least one person who attended the class is just a few years away from retirement while others are in the beginning stages of their careers. Some work at glass plants while others work only with the finished product. And then there was me—the lone auto glass reporter and the lone female.

When I walked into the classroom on the first day, everyone was busy working on their pre-tests so I grabbed a test and began. At what temperature do you store a particular brand of urethane? When removing urethane, do you strip it down to the frit or to bare metal? These were just a few of the approximately 70 test questions that stumped me. My 37-percent score proved my lack of expertise (I was proud that it was one point higher than the lowest test score, however). We were told we would be taking the same test again at the end of the week. "There's nowhere to go but up," I thought.

Once the test was completed, our first homework project was assigned. We were provided with a list of auto glass parts (e.g., windshield, back-, side-, quarter-lite, etc.) for a variety of automobiles and were told to use the NAGS book to find the part number. Although I had written about NAGS® numbers, I had never actually seen a NAGS Calculator or determined part numbers, so it was an informative exercise. This was the case with other class participants as well.

Once the NAGS assignment was given, the classroom portion of the training began. Topics covered the mission of the professional auto glass technician, the basics and future of both auto glass and urethane, auto glass customer service, auto glass installation standards, knowing your urethane supplier and first aid. As classroom instructor Dean Mieske explained the meanings of words such as frit band, cowl, PC mouldings and pinchweld, I knew these definitions would only make sense once I performed an installation myself.

I was naively surprised that PAG covered topics such as first aid and customer service. I thought the class would remain focused on methods involved in replacing windshields. But, as we delved into the subject matter, specifically customer service considerations, I realized it would be pointless to teach people how to replace windshields and then simply send them on their way. Technicians need to know how to conduct a proper vehicle inspection and how to relate effectively with their customer service representatives. Technical proficiency alone will not guarantee success.

Before heading down to the shop the following day to begin the hands-on portion of the seminar, we were given a ten-question quiz. Although it was only one day after my pitiful 37-percent test score, I had a newfound confidence. As we went over the questions, I let everyone know I was on my way to a perfect score. Unfortunately, I answered one question incorrectly ruining my perfect score.

Mieske turned the installation portion of the class over to Harlan Jeffers and Chris Borsheim, also of PAG. Jeffers led us down to the shop and began with the basics. He showed us how to correctly set the windshield on a truck, and then asked for volunteers. After watching a few people do it, I thought, "piece of cake," so I confidently stepped up to the plate. After placing the glass handlers where I wanted them, I attempted to pick up the windshield and quickly learned it is not as easy as it looks. Jeffers graciously assisted me in lifting the lite. I hoped I would do better at the next task I tackled—to remove and replace a back glass with my assigned partner, Bob Rossi of PPG Industries.

I awkwardly climbed into the backseat, crouched down and fired up the Equalizer. I quickly discovered that my arm strength was proving to be a problem. I'm not sure how long it took me to take out the glass, but it seemed like forever. Fortunately, Rossi was there to pick up the slack. When the windshield was removed and it was time to strip the urethane off the frit band, I said to Borsheim, "Now, this will be a piece of cake." Once I began, I once again realized I was wrong. The urethane was packed on and not easy to remove.

Finally it was time to apply a thin bead of urethane to the windshield. "Now this I can do," I confidently said. Again, I was wrong (by now one would think I'd learned to keep by big mouth shut). The bead I applied was anything but thin and not in a straight line. When it came time to set the windshield, I finally learned my lesson and didn't say a word. That must have been the key. I set the windshield perfectly and breathed a sigh of relief.

The PAG instructors and participants were great. Encouragement was shared generously. That is, until I turned my back and they snickered, "Wait until the next class tries to get that urethane packed windshield out of there."

Once the class mastered the basics of windshield removal and installation, it was time to move on to removal of door lites and windshield repairs. On this day I was paired with Sam Brownwell of Visteon. Doorlite removals involve removing the hardware, taking out the glass and reassembling it. I found this to be much easier than windshield replacements (okay, so Brownwell did most of the work, but it looked easier).

When I returned home and told my husband about this portion of the class he jokingly said, "Oh, you can fix my car door for me now (the windshield pops out of place when the window is rolled down)." I told him it would not be that hard. "All I would have to do is take it apart, realign the glass and put it back together," I said. Sensing an ounce of seriousness in my voice he said, "On second thought I'll leave it the way it is." Thanks for the confidence boost.

As I evaluated my technical training success (or lack thereof), I realized if there is a future for me in this industry it would be in performing repairs. I turned out to be much better at this than replacement. Jeffers walked me through the repair of both bullseye and long crack repairs. It is safe to say that I and the other attendees left the PAG training with a newfound knowledge and understanding of both repair and installation techniques and procedures. Though a test score of 75 would have made me less than proud in my college days, I was pretty pleased with my progress when I received this score on my PAG post-test. And as I said after receiving my disappointing pre-test score, "There is nowhere to go but up."

USG Tara Taffera is the assistant editor of USGlass magazine.


Pilkington LOF Moves AGR to Toledo

Pilkington LOF of Toledo, OH, has announced that it is moving its auto glass replacement manufacturing operations from Toledo, OH, to Columbus, OH. The move, which will result in the reduction of 15 jobs, will increase the company's effectiveness, according to Philip Webb. Webb says the company is still in the process of determining who will move to Columbus. At press time, nine of the 60 employees in its AGR segment in Toledo had confirmed they would move to Columbus.

JC's Glass Combines Arizona and Farmers to Prevent Theft

Farmer's Insurance, the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority and JC's Glass in Phoenix, AZ, have announced a joint program to prevent vehicle theft. Farmer's will offer complimentary vehicle-identification, while JC's Glass will provide complimentary windshield chip repairs.

NWRA Develops Recommended Practices Draft for Review

The National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) has drafted Recommended Practice for Repair of Windshield Damage. According to the NWRA, this document is important to the future of windshield repair and may well impact every windshield repairer. A copy of the document can be found at www.netrax.net/~nwra on the Recommended Practices page at the NWRA website. The organization says it is accepting comments until July 31, 1998.

Judge Dismisses NYSGA Suit

An Albany County, NY, supreme court judge dismissed the New York State Glass Association's (NYSGA's) lawsuit against the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on April 17. NYSGA had alleged that the DMV is derelict in its duties to protect the motoring public from unsafe auto glass replacements, and had sought to compel the DMV to promulgate regulations for auto glass repair and replacement. Judge Mary O. Donohue ruled that the association "failed to demonstrate that it has standing to assert the claims contained in (its) petition," and is therefore not entitled to the relief it seeks. She added, "It is clear that DMV has exercised the discretion delegated to it with regard to the promulgation of rules and regulations."



Glass Technology Offers Ten-Year Warranty On Pumps

Durango, CO-based Glass Technology has announced that it is now offering a ten-year warranty on the pumps in its VP-5000 and Eliminator™ windshield repair systems. The pumps are vital components of both the VP-5000, a machine-operated system, and the Eliminator, a computer-controlled system.

Duncan Begins Distribution of Aquapel® Glass Treatment

Duncan Aftermarket Products, a division of Duncan Systems Inc. of Elkhart, IN, has begun national distribution of Aquapel Glass Treatment. Aquapel, which was developed by PPG Industries, is a fluoropolymer compound that bonds with glass surfaces and is designed to allow water to bead and easily shed off of glass. It can be used on windshields or sidelites.

Thinktrax Introduces Remote Heated Wiper

Thinktrax LLC of Southampton, NY, has introduced what it says is the world's first remote-control electric heated auto windshield wiper. The device, called hotwiper.com, keeps the rubber wiper blades warm.

Corning Announces Enhanced Lighting Technology

Corning Incorporated of Corning, NY, has announced design enhancements that extend the life and reduce the power consumption of its advanced neon automotive technology. According to the company, it has extended lamp life by at least five times compared to conventional neon technology. The company says the extended life is a product of a new electrode design using capacitively coupled external electrodes that eliminate the traditional failure mode of discharge lamps.


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