Is There an Auto Glass Shortage? Distributors, Retailers Offer Their Thoughts
June 28, 2010

Since early this year, Allan Gurecki, owner of Atlanta-based Glass-2-U Systems, has had difficulty finding auto glass parts.

"In the Atlanta market, we are fortunate to have six wholesale vendors in our market," says Gurecki, owner of the company. "What is frustrating is that some of the most common part numbers for the most common, middle-of-the-road, working-class type vehicles often come into short supply."

Gurecki says that, for his business, the shortages started early this year "and have deteriorated since."

Gurecki says he's heard a variety of reasons this might be occurring.

"The explanations I have heard run the gamut from 'our warehouses are converting to the just-in-time type of inventory,' to 'our plants are in re-tooling mode,' to even 'the Gulf oil disaster is delaying our container vessels from reaching port'—creative, yet somehow not believable," he says.

And Gurecki's not the only one seeing this issue. Rich Lutton, owner of Metro Glass in Omaha, Neb., says he's being seeing a shortage in parts for the last couple of months, particularly for newer vehicles.

"We're definitely affected by [a shortage], though not so far with the basic stock items, but particularly with the new windshields, especially foreign windshields," he says. "We do work for Kia and we've had to get glass from Korea from Kia, because no [distributor has] come out with it yet."

Lutton also adds that normally he can find the windshield he is looking for—but choices are more limited.

"It's not crisis-proportion, but instead of the four distributors we look at a on a daily basis all having the piece of glass we need, often just one of them has it," he says.

The suppliers™/AGRR magazine interviewed for this story suggested several causes for a possible shortage, including increased demand.

"We have been seeing an increase in demand not only for OE [glass,] but [for] aftermarket, too," says Juan Carlos Rivas, who handles logistics, purchasing and exports for Vitro Automotive. "This is causing us some problems in order to get enough glass to cover our customers' demand." (Rivas also pointed out that the company has taken steps to become more efficient to accommodate the increased demand. CLICK HERE for related story.)

Some of the delays are coming from afar, says Ramon Gonzalez Jr., vice president of sales and operations for Import Glass Corp.

"We have been experiencing shortages due to the Chinese extending their delivery time to almost 14 weeks," says Gonzalez. "This change came suddenly and most distributors I'm assuming were not prepared."

And Gonzalez says he's seeing this from a variety of Chinese suppliers.

"It's across the board," he says. "They say that they're really busy and very behind."

Though Safelite AutoGlass spokesperson Jenny Cain says the company did see a large pull shortly after the recent major hail storm in Oklahoma City (CLICK HERE for related story), she says the demand there has stabilized.

"Shortly after the storms hit, we began pulling glass in from five warehouses plus our national distribution center on a daily basis," she says. "Our glass sourcing has returned to normal levels."

Cain says her company hasn't experienced a shortage elsewhere.

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