Auto Glass Can Survive
January 3, 2013

by Casey Neeley,

To quote Hank Williams Jr., "The interest is up and the stock market's down." What are auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) shops facing as a variety of fiscal uncertainties head their way in 2013? Mixed reporting nearing the approach of a looming agreement to shirk the fiscal cliff has many businesses and markets scrambling to prepare for the worst.

While portions of the economy appear to be recovering, some AGRR-specific aspects are not. One of the most visible financial difficulties facing shop owners appears in the form of acquisitions. Throughout the last two months of 2012, multiple companies faced several major acquisitions.

In November, ABRA Auto Body and Glass announced its acquisition of Schoonover Bodyworks and Glass' Stillwater, Minn., location in addition to its December purchases of five Indianapolis, Ind.-area Collision Solutions shops, three Collision Plus Auto Body Repair Centers in Southern Illinois outside of St. Louis and Ogden Auto Body in Utah. Guardian Auto Glass also announced in November that it had acquired Good Shepherd Auto Glass of Edgewood, Md., and formed Guardian Auto Glass Baltimore, LLC.

Gerber Collision and Glass announced three major acquisitions through November and December which brought its total number of U.S. locations to 180. Safelite Group, which made multiple purchases of independent glass shops in November, such as Klein-Dickert Co. Inc. and Southern Glass and Plastics, is under speculation for upcoming additional independent shop purchases in 2013.

Carrying into the New Year, Caliber Collision Centers announced yesterday its acquisition of ten California-area Hi-Tech Collision and Glass Centers.

Despite these many acquisitions, D'Ieteren owner of the Belron® Group and Belron's U.S. subsidiary, Safelite Group, revised its "Guidance for 2012 and 2013," reporting it anticipates declines in the coming year, citing: "The persistent negative trends in the vehicle glass repair and replacement markets [as] leading D'Ieteren to update its guidance to a roughly 30 percent decline of its 2012 current consolidated result before tax, group's share, versus 2011 (versus roughly -25 percent previously advised) and, in case such trends were to continue into the new year, despite probably more normal weather conditions, to anticipate a further decline of roughly 10 percent to 15 percent of its 2013 current consolidated result before tax, group's share, versus 2012," in the report.

Just how do auto glass shops plan to endure these continued blows to the industry?

"All we're trying to do is just survive these times; they're tough. Every once in a while you get some commercial [work] but that's few and far between. I've been here 32 years and most of [my business] is repetitious," says Frank Kuneck, owner of Tri-City Glass in Rochester, N.H.

Keith Raub, manager of SuperGlass Windshield Repair in Columbiana, Ohio says his company's business has been mostly impacted by weather but knows there will be continued work resulting from unpreventable damage such as rock chips.

"I really have no secret to business; I just get up and try to go make money," Raub says.

"We're just trying to stay busy and keep the cash coming. We're trying to move forward. What choice do we have? All we can do is take the cards we've been dealt and play them," says Jason Barnes, owner of Barnes Auto Glass and Windshield in Vicksburg, Miss. "I don't know how badly it's going to affect us yet."

This story is an original story by AGRR™ magazine/™. Subscribe to AGRR™ Magazine.
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