Midwest Glass Shops Brace for Arctic Blast

Automotive glass shops across the Midwest are taking the first major Arctic blast of the season in stride – and mostly indoors.

A “polar vortex” has produced dangerously low temperatures, high winds and several inches of snow across a huge swath of the Great Lakes region from Wisconsin to upstate New York.

In Grand Rapids, Mich., Rich Petitpren, manager at Henderson Glass, Inc., said the area already has 10-12 inches of snow on the ground, with more on the way.

“The bigger problem is the Arctic temperatures,” he said.  “It’s going down into the single digits.”

His auto glass business definitely slows down in this kind of weather, he said, and calls for a little extra preparation on his part.

“We usually request shelter if we have to go out on jobs,” he said. “We prep and prime in shop as much as we can before we go out. Even though urethane can cure down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, unless you have shelter, it’s pretty hard.”

In Green Bay, Wisc., Patrick Pozza said he doesn’t even try to go outside.

“It’s definitely affecting our business,” said Pozza, the owner of Green Bay Glass Inc. “When it gets this cold, we just go inside. If I have to send two guys out to pick up an insurance job and bring it back, so be it.”

Pozza said the manufacturer of the adhesives he uses warned him that in extreme temperatures, the adhesive couldn’t be guaranteed to work properly. And with 5 inches of snow already on the ground and 10 more forecasted – along with a wind chill of “10-20 below” – Pozza said that constitutes extreme weather.

Frank Mistretta, owner of Frank’s Auto Glass on Chicago’s South Side, said he feels the same way. In extreme weather, he does all his work indoors.

“I’m not going to jeopardize my employees,” he said.

Mistretta also noted he’s seen an uptick in his business, which he said was due to “more windows being damaged, windows popping off track, people scraping ice off windshields.”

Jim Ricci’s Majestic Auto Glass, also in Chicago, has also seen business increase slightly, and offered a sort of formula for the auto glass industry and bad weather.

“You need snow plus cold to see a real increase in business,” he said. “Your best storm comes on Sunday night or Monday or Tuesday. If it happens on Thursday, people blow off work on Friday and stay in. If it happens on the weekend, people just stay home.”

Also, he said, with tonight’s temperatures in Chicago expected to fall to near zero, “Those cracks and chips, in this cold, with defrosters going, those cracks are going to start running. And then there’s people with ice on the windshields. People get crazy taking that off.”

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