Industry Members React to Safelite Purchase of Giant
January 4, 2013

by Casey Neeley,

Members of the auto glass industry met today's announcement that Safelite® Group was purchasing North Andover, Mass.-based Giant Glass Co. with strong reactions.

"My opinion is that this will be a continuing phenomenon," says John Groenhof, president of Service Auto Glass Inc. in Colorado Springs, Colo. "With the market for auto glass replacement shrinking due to the economy, [fewer] miles driven, etc., companies will continue to 'buy' market share through acquisitions."

One industry member, who wishes to remain anonymous, says "I fear that this industry will fall very soon and all that will be left for the American people to choose from is chain food!"

"I think this pattern of absolute dominance from a single retail provider should send off alarm bells for customers and competitors alike," says Paul Gross, CEO and president of HSG, a third-party administrator. "Personally, I value competition, so I think that more is better and less is worse."

In light of the recent news of various acquisitions Groenhof adds, "Independent auto glass shops need to look at diversification of product offerings. We are putting a much more aggressive effort into growing our residential and commercial division."

"I can't imagine it will be long before regulators start to evaluate the implications this approach has on consumers, particularly the glass industry's largest consumer: the insurance industry," says Gross.

Giant sellers Dennis Drinkwater and Lance Cramer, who will continue to work with the company under Safelite, expressed satisfaction with their decision.

"I am proud of the company that my business partner Lance and I have built," Drinkwater says. "We have a strong customer base and excellent employees and we wanted both of them to be well taken care of in the future. We trust that Safelite will take care of them both."

"While much of our growth has come organically from expanding the company's existing sales and profit base, we've also had various strategic, targeted acquisitions in the last several years," says Tom Feeney, president and CEO of Safelite. "We expect that Giant Glass's clients, customers, business partners and employees will benefit from our commitment to be the leader in the vehicle glass industry."

Giant is exactly that, a giant in the New England area. According to its website it has five Massachusetts locations in Peabody, Worcester, Lawrence, Weymouth and North Andover as well as more than 30 mobile vans and 54 employees.

Drinkwater is a noted figure in the Boston community and Giant Glass previously has been a high-profile sponsor for the Boston Red Sox.

This will mark the third major acquisition Safelite has completed in recent months, including Klein-Dickert Co. Inc. and Southern Glass and Plastics, both in November 2012.

Barry Gaughran, president of the Massachusetts Glass Dealers Association, had not responded to request for comment at press time.

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See the original announcmenet here.

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