Auto Glass Week, the industry’s annual gathering kicked off today in Orlando before a large audience, and still more participating virtually.
Opening day, complete with exhibitors, competitors and seminars, was a welcome attraction for so many who had not been able to be with their friends, colleagues, and industry associates since September 2019.
The education program sported back-to-back sessions throughout the day, began with “Morning Coffee with Nick St. Denis,” director of research for Key Media & Research. St. Denis spoke about the demands and trends in the auto glass market. He told the early morning audience that miles driven, most impacted by COVID-19 in late first quarter and early second quarter 2020, was still “working its way back, but getting close to” pre-pandemic levels.
The Opening Session was an update from leaders of the Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC), the National Windshield Repair Division (NWRD) and the Independent Glass Association. AGSC vice president Mike Schenian, highlighted the changes Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) has brought to the industry. He also discussed the safety kits and manuals that the organization provided during the pandemic as well as the webinars that assisted hard hit companies with securing federal funding. Linda Rollinson, chair of the NWRD, said that over the years “not much with the techniques have changed but that everything has changed greatly due to the advent of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems.”
An Industry Roundtable discussion drew dozens of participants who moved around various tables for give-and-take exchanges with their industry colleagues. Additional chairs were required at the “Developing a Calibration Program” table.
Meanwhile back in the main ballroom, the sessions continued throughout the morning with Counterfeit Glass, OE vs. Aftermarket Glass, Making Customers for Life and Profiting More from Repair.
In comparing OE and aftermarket, Paul Anaya of Mygrant said the quality is the same and it comes down to the placement of the bracket that is contoured to the glass and positioned robotically.
To make a “customer for life” in the seminar of the same name, Shiloh Spoo of GlassWeld said that he asks his customer service representatives to make a presentation each week highlighting one customer and emphasized the importance of communicating with and “being nice” to the customer throughout their interaction with the company.
Korey Gobin, sales manager at Delta Kits, told the assembled that repair was a low overhead and high profit business in a session designed to help attendees build profitable repair businesses. Rich Campbell of UltraBond Inc. provided data from his repair business showing that 66% of his work was from chips and 36% cracks, but said that half of his income was from cracks even though it was only a third of his business. He said that the ROLAGS standards, which covers cracks up to 14 inches, guides him and his customers as to whether the windshield is repairable. The educational sessions were sponsored by FYG.
The show and competition, complete with heats of the Pilkington Auto Glass Technician Competition and the Delta Kits Windshield Repair Competition were held today. All the heats of the calibration competition were held as well.
“The competition was today,” said senior event director Tricia Lopez, “and we have calibration equipment demonstrations from every major tools supplier” during the rest of the show.
Nearly 100 sponsors also displayed their latest products and services which Glassbytes.com will cover in-depth in its video reports beginning tomorrow.
Auto Glass Week continues through Wednesday and attendees can sign up to attend the in-person event at the Orange County Convention Center registration area or attend online by visiting autoglassweek.com.