Volume 49, Issue 7 - July 2014

NewsAnalysis:Trends

Glass Shops Walk a Fine Line When Offering Scratch Removal Services

Repair—or replace?
It’s a question that causes conflict in the glass industry, yet the easy answer depends on whichever team you’re on.

If you’re on both teams, however, it’s not so simple. And that’s a dilemma glass shops that offer scratch removal capabilities face on a regular basis.

Brad Plumb, director of sales and business development for GlasWeld, located in Bend, Ore., has seen it firsthand.

When Plumb joined the company four years ago, one of his first jobs was to go out and market glass scratch removal systems to glass shops.

“It was something I was really pushing at first,” says Plumb. “But, after talking to production managers, and even presidents of companies, they were just like, “Look, we’re in the business of selling glass. You’ve got to stick to what you’re in business for. Offering some of these services actually competes against our own business.’”

Plumb found out glass repair, or scratch removal, in that part of the market was a harder sell than he thought.

“When you look at it, you can get labor and sales out of glass,” he said. “You can only get labor out of scratch removal.”

“If you were going to ask me about the cons, that’s one of the big cons,” adds Kevin Hale at S&K Glass & Metal Works in Las Vegas. “You’re kind of cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

But there are pros. First, offering scratch removal services can be a selling point at the initial sale of the glass. A consumer, owner or contractor may be sold on the idea that the same people who sold the glass can come out and fix it if there’s a problem.

Hale was able to find another angle of attack.

S&K doesn’t sell automotive glass, but since it is made virtually of the same laminated glass with which it already works, the company was able to tap into the market of automotive glass repair. In fact, Hale has developed a good working relationship with Shelby American in Las Vegas, which calls upon his company’s services approximately one to two times a month.

From Plumb’s perspective, that’s certainly better than nothing. He says that back when he was pitching the idea of scratch removal services to glass shops, a handful of the businesses that started offering it decided it wasn’t profitable within just a couple jobs.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a market for scratch removal. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, though the businesses taking full advantage of it are focused strictly on repairs rather than replacements.

“Glass restoration is a separate craft, a separate skill set and mind set,” says Barry Barbas of Glass Restoration Inc. in Florida. “Where installations are about speed, restorations are about perfection ….Focusing just on restoring glass has allowed us to bring our skills up to the highest level. A company that also restores glass will never be able to consistently achieve the same results as someone who specializes in that field.”

Barbas says that instead of competing, it’s ideal if repair companies work with replacement companies. For example, if a glass shop isn’t capable of a certain repair but the customer opts against a replacement, the shop should refer the customer to a restoration specialist. Then, what goes around will come around.

“We have become team members to all the glass companies that use and recommend us, rather than a competitor,” says Barbas. “When we encounter glass that is too damaged to restore cost efficiently, we recommend replacement to those companies that are recommending us.”

—Nick St. Denis

 


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