Rizzi's Work: An Interview with the Man Behind the Movement

Mark Rizzi, owner of ACR Glass in Alliance, Neb., has been involved in the auto glass industry since 1985 and in recent years has become known for his work documenting substandard windshield repairs and replacements. He was recently quoted in an article in the Automotive Body Repair News for his support and involvement with the recent anti-steering legislation that has been introduced in Nebraska.

Rizzi took some time out of his day to answer some questions and tell us about his work for the industry. He got started not with substandard installations but with battling corrosion problems. He explained that the law currently in discussion isn't specifically about substandard installations, it's about steering and letting the customer know he has a choice.

"The law is about accountability and to put accountability back in there," he said. "That's what no one wants to talk about, that the customer has a right to choose."

When you started, what was your plan, in terms of correcting the problem?
Someone told me once that you can't change the world but you can change your little corner. That doesn't apply. You can't change your corner. The plan was to create and put in to place a set of standards to comply with. A benchmark of standards so that you don't have one person saying a wire brush is good enough while someone else wants to redo the whole thing. No one can be 100 percent sure that all the corrosion is removed. Even if we could, what are we going to do? Roll it right back out to a corrosive environment. We need to try to restore corrosion protection level to nearly that of the factory standards.

How'd you become involved with the Nebraska Auto Body Association?
I think when you get, at some point, quality control people and consumer advocates, they just kind of end up together. There are those in the industry who choose to go along until something better comes along, and there are those who would rather make a positive change and keep the consumer in the forefront of the positive efforts. Consumers deserve to have the top-notch quality materials, quality workmanship, to restore their vehicles back to OEM design, not just government standards. We should be going by what the manufacturers set for standards, not what the government put in place before airbags existed.

Was steering a concern for you before this potential legislation?
Yes, absolutely. We have countless systems out there where there is "we'll pay this much" and there is no consideration for quality glass, quality workmanship. They just throw the cost out and the shop is forced to work within the cost parameters.

What responses have you had stem from the work you do?
I don't know who put the windshield in. I don't want to know who put the windshield in. I don't ask because then I can't be unbiased. From customers, though it's more "Thank you very much for showing us the problem, we had no idea." I've never had a bad reaction. As a matter of fact, everyone has been very thankful.

What do you say to people who work ethically, properly and legitimately, who are having problems staying in the market?
Never apologize for doing quality work.

What would you say to those whose workmanship is giving the industry a bad name?
I would probably show pictures of cars that belong to customers of ours, cars we've done windshield replacements on and later were involved in rollovers. I'd point at the photo of the car the 16 year old girl rolled (and escaped with only a bump on the head) as well as other vehicles that people rolled multiple times and walked away, the worst injury was a broken collar bone. I'd say "this is why we should be paying attention to every aspect, every detail. Because you never know when someone's life is going to depend on it."

What do you think the bill's chances of passage are?
Don't know. I'm still assessing what the opposition is. They [the opposition] are still working behind closed doors. It will be interesting to see what happens.

If the insurance companies do not steer, then why would they have such opposition to the bill?
That's been my huge question. Why would you object to a law that forbids you from what you're not doing? Please tell us. Everything we're doing promotes fair competition. Fair competition is alive and well in other industries, it should work in ours, too. Checks and balances work in other industries, but not in ours. We had one insurance industry representative who came in and said the bill is going to raise insurance rates, but when I raised my hand and asked her why, she had no answer.

What advice would you give to others who want to get similar legislation in the works in other states?
Change starts at your own front door. No one is going to do it for you. Just do it. The people in California didn't have a problem getting this and they're much higher regulated than Nebraska is. For ease, we're going to put it in writing that was already approved in a higher regulated state. We're going to make it easy for everyone. We're not alone. Colorado and California already have legislation in place. Massachusetts and the state Washington are also working on getting legislation passed.

As adamant as Rizzi is about customer safety and protecting the customer as well as the independent glass shops, he's not out to take down the Insurance industry, either. He stressed one particular point throughout the interview.

"I have no problem with insurers wanting to control costs, but a line has to be drawn where cost control stops eating into quality and safety," he said. "The basic thing is, this law is not about cost. There's nothing in this law that says insurance companies can't watch cost. I wouldn't want to be party to anything that would allow a license to kill. I have no problem with insurers watching cost, to protect themselves, and this law doesn't stop them from doing that. It just says that you can't market a consumer at the time a claim is filed unless he asks to be marketed or okays to be marketed, or agrees to be marketed. I don't have the advantage of being able to market the customer when he files his claim."

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