It’s clear that there are not enough properly trained, qualified and certified glass replacement technicians to meet the needs of the motoring public and adequately staff aftermarket businesses conducting these types of repairs.
This line of work can make a satisfying career for potential technicians interested in taking advantage of the industry’s wide array of up-to-date educational offerings.
“In the beginning, windshields were truly windscreens – they were designed to keep bugs, weather and wind out and had little function beyond those. As car designs evolved, windshields became curved and eventually became an integral part of the vehicle’s passenger restraint safety system,” explains Debra Levy, president of the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC) and managing director of the Auto Glass Week trade exposition.
“Once the glass became a safety feature, how it is installed became just as important. The sophistication of installation has evolved over the years to the point where standards for proper auto glass installation are necessary,” she continues, referring to the American National Standards Institute/AGSC/Automotive Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) that was first developed more than 15 years ago. “It’s the single most important automotive glass safety item in the past 50 years.”
AGSC administers a technician certification program for auto glass installation professionals, awarding certified technician or master technician credentials. It also oversees “one of the most forward-thinking company credentialing programs, whereby third-party independent auditors conduct random audits of companies and their technicians to make sure they are following the industry’s standards and installing properly,” says Levy.
AGSC additionally administers the industry’s auto glass replacement safety ANSI/AGSC/AGRSS 2015-003 Standard.
The organization holds training sessions throughout the nation. In June, for instance, AGSC conducted a regional training and accreditation program in suburban Seattle. “We had 23 registered and it was very successful,” Levy reports.
“We held several of these courses last year with great results,” adds Bob Beranek, chair of the AGSC AGRSS Standards Committee and president of Auto Glass University. Courses will be held in San Antonio during Auto Glass Week and in Virginia in mid-October.
Numerous training offerings will be in full view at this year’s Oct. 5-7 Auto Glass Week taking place at San Antonio’s Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and the Marriott Rivercenter Hotel. Sponsoring organizations include AGSC, the Independent Glass Association (IGA), the National Glass Association (NGA) and the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA).
“Individuals can earn up to 12 continuing education units (CEUs) by attending the event, depending on which seminars and programs they attend,” says Levy. “Attending the Auto Glass Technician Replacement and Repair competitions, for example, will earn two credits.”
The assortment of educational sessions will be augmented by networking opportunities and relevant displays on the show floor. “Many technicians are not as concerned with quality; they are more concerned with offering the lowest price,” according to NWRA President Jeff Reddell, owner of PACE Glass in Texarkana, Texas. “One way to differentiate yourself from the competition is to learn about the latest industry products and services from the top windshield repair vendors.”
“Let the event – devoted to the automotive glass industry and making connections that drive profit – work for you,” Levy suggests.
Education and awareness
“We feel it’s very important to be a part of Auto Glass Week as it represents a convergence of the leading voices in our industry,” says Fred Altamirano, vice president of automotive sales at the C.R. Laurence Co.
“It’s a great opportunity to be a part of the conversation on a much larger scale, and to gain access to industry partners and customers away from the day-to-day transactional environment,” he points out.
“We’re able to meet face-to-face with existing customers – as well as potential new ones – that cannot be reached the rest of the year. It’s a great platform to promote and educate, but also an opportunity to learn how we can better serve the AGRR (auto glass repair/replacement) community,” Altamirano says.
“Auto Glass Week remains the key trade show for the industry and we believe it’s important to show our support,” he says. “It’s more than just an opportunity to showcase our wares; it represents a valuable moment for attendee interactions and feedback, which ultimately helps us improve our products and services.”
Altamirano further observes that “we’re excited to roll out a host of new auto glass supplies that can benefit shops of all sizes. We’ve spent time listening to both customers and vendors, and the result was an expansion and update of our offerings to address the everyday needs of today’s auto glass professional.”
“Auto Glass Week is the place to be in auto glass,” says sales manager Mark Haeck at Mainstream Computers. “It’s an opportunity to reconnect with industry partners, customers and meet new prospective customers.”
The company will be highlighting its latest computer application for glass repairers. “MobilePRO allows them to complete jobs, scan a VIN, get signatures, take job-related photos, take payments and update the job status so both the tech in the field and staff in the office become so much better efficient and productive,” he says.
A hot topic at this year’s event is how the AGRR industry will handle recalibration of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) after a windshield replacement. “Here’s the place to ask questions and rub shoulders with peers and experts who have all the same questions and concerns,” says Haeck.
“Our advice to our AGRR technicians would be to remain patient and maintain professionalism when dealing with the changes we face with ADAS,” notes Paul Anaya, national accounts and marketing manager for Mygrant Glass. “I feel the event will bring education and awareness to all owners, management and AGRR technicians.”
“Auto Glass Week is beneficial because it allows us to meet all the people in the industry in one spot,” says CT Chan, senior manager at Benson Autoglass. We have been an active sponsor for many years. It’s important to be a sponsor to support Auto Glass Week – to support the industry and meet all the people.”
“The AGSC, in conjunction with the industry participants, does an excellent job of providing a broad cross section of demonstrations, new product displays and educational seminars. The exposure to all participants makes this a ‘must-see’ event,” according to Tim Siterlet, central region sales manager/marketing manager for Carlex.
“There is seemingly no end in sight to the high degree of safety and driver information enhancement technologies that are finding their way into the mainstream of our industry,” says Siterlet: “Be ready technologically.”
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