“I look at Safelite like the New York Yankees,” says Mark Liston, president of Glass Doctor, describing Safelite’s recent purchase of Guardian’s retail assets. “Who they can buy, they will. Simple as that.”
Earlier this month, Safelite announced it had reached an agreement to acquire substantially all the vehicle glass repair assets of Guardian Auto Glass LLC, a joint venture of Guardian Industries Corp. and LRST LLC. Additionally, Safelite Group reached an agreement to acquire the vehicle glass insurance claims management assets of Guardian Glass Network, not including its RV glass claims management operations.
News of the sale to Safelite comes on the heels of Guardian announcing it is exiting the local distribution business.
“If you are like me and you believe in the value of competition, then you have to believe that more competition is better and less is worse,” says Paul Gross, president and CEO of HSG/CodeBlue. “This transaction is only further evidence that our industry is being dominated by a single national glass retailer and true competition is being depleted, which will undoubtedly lead to higher costs for the insurance community and their policyholders.
“It continues to amaze me that a company with a first-party interest to the fulfillment of the claim can convince their customers that they are a third-party administrator,” he adds.
“I was chagrined but not surprised when the news of the sale of the AGR-related assets of Guardian to Safelite was announced,” writes Neil Duffy, owner of Auto Glass Menders in San Jose, Calif., in a recent blog post on View from the Trenches.
“The inexorable and unchecked expansion of Belron [Safelite’s parent company] into the American automotive glass market continues. The landscape within the automotive glass industry proceeds to change and in many ways shrink. One wonders what the industry will evolve to in the next decade or two. However it evolves, it is my guess that indie shops and distributors will bear the brunt of that change,” he adds.
Technicians and company owners also spoke out about the deal on the glassBYTEs.com™/AGRR™ magazine forum here.
“Wow, quite a turn of events. I hope all are treated well,” writes a poster.
“Guardian was a great company to work for prior to the first sale. We were trained properly and enjoyed the working environment. Things changed with the sale and many of the experienced installers left. Now with this change, I, too, feel for those who are left,” writes “DAG.”
“Many of us knew when it was sold the first time, it was going to be sold off again and we were not going to wait. Big changes sometimes mean bigger and better opportunities. Just waiting to see how many more open their own shops,” he adds.