Happy Valentine’s Day! Today, we celebrate friendship, business partners and marriage by sharing stories of couples who work together in the auto glass industry.
Wayne “Bubba” and Leanne Speir of Speir Auto Glass in Crystal Springs, Miss.
Wayne “Bubba” and Leanne Speir have been married for five years and have two young children. They met through his cousin and dated long-distance for a few months at the beginning of their relationship. In August 2019, they started Speir Auto Glass in Crystal Springs, Miss., as a part-time venture. By February 2020, the business was full-time.
Leanne says she had just been laid off from her full-time job, and the couple started the business with the last paycheck Bubba received from his full-time job. Then the pandemic began, and the couple welcomed their second child in March. “We ended up sustaining. We made it through that first month,” she says.
“It’s challenging sometimes,” Leanne says of working with her husband. “For the most part, we work well together. We’ve learned our business isn’t home.” The couple learned to keep home and work separate as much as possible. She says working together has made it possible for them to learn more about each other.
Leanne takes customer calls, schedules auto glass appointments and handles the shop’s accounting. “He does what I tell him to do,” she says jokingly. She also helps him set a windshield if he needs a second pair of hands.
“When we started, I was trying to do it all myself,” Bubba says of the business. He found that taking customer calls while replacing a windshield was a challenge. “So I knew I needed help.” He worked for Pilkington in 2017 and later began working for an auto glass shop before opening his own. “This is something I know I can do and excel at. We’re in an area that needed someone to do glass,” he says. He takes auto glass jobs as far as Vicksburg, about an hour from home.
“We’re both learning,” Bubba says of him and his wife starting their own auto glass business. “We just play it day by day, call by call and do what we have to do to take care of our industry and our county.” He says it’s a blessing to own and operate a business with his wife. “It’s a Godsend.” And for the couple to raise their children and be together every day at work. “I enjoy what I do, and I enjoy being close with my family while I do it.”
The Speirs do not yet have plans for Valentine’s Day. Leanne says they usually go out to dinner as a couple or family.
Lee and Tiffany Swindell of JJB Auto Glass in Atascadero, Calif.
Lee and Tiffany Swindell met five years ago in a bar. They married a year ago in April, and Tiffany’s 13-year-old daughter lives with them and has taken Lee’s last name. The couple opened JJB Auto Glass four years ago in Atascadero, Calif. Tiffany handles paperwork in the office and does windshield repairs. She won second place in the competition at Auto Glass Week in Orlando, Fla., last June. Lee does windshield repair, replacement and calibration.
“There’s a door on my office that I can shut,” Tiffany says jokingly of how the couple manages to work together and be a couple. “Sometimes, we agree to disagree. We get through it,” Lee says. COVID-19 created new challenges for the business owners who are in a rural area where the nearest glass distributor is more than two hours away. “To get glass, it’s a whole day process,” he says. “Right now, we just have to pull together and make it work.”
Tiffany says knowing her strengths and her husband’s also helps. She got into the business four years ago after working as a hairstylist. “My plan was not to have anything to do with this business,” she says, but plans changed.
In the industry for 19 years, Lee says he “wouldn’t be able to get as much done” if his wife weren’t in the office taking care of paperwork and customer calls. “It allows me to be the master tech I need to be.” He says finding good help is challenging, and auto glass requires a learning curve. “It’s not something you can learn overnight.”
Tiffany says learning about which windshield fits which vehicle “was a big learning curve.” If she ordered the wrong windshield, the shop would have to wait until the next day for the correct windshield because it receives only one delivery per day.
“We’ll probably be working,” Tiffany says of the couple’s plans for Valentine’s Day. They had a date night on February 7. “We do try to sneak them in occasionally. And we try not to talk about work.”
Jason and Delena Taylor-Young Worked Together at Mygrant Glass in Irving, Texas
Jason and Delena Taylor-Young met while working together 14 years ago. She was a dispatcher and he drove a tow truck. The couple lives in Dallas, has three children and has been married for 12 years on February 20. From 2018 to 2020, the couple worked at Mygrant Glass in Irving, Texas. He still works in the warehouse, and she was an office manager, but now works for an auto glass company that buys glass from Mygrant. “It was fun. I miss our one-hour lunch breaks,” Delena says.
“That I do miss,” Jason says of the couple’s lunch breaks. “Every day, we’d make sure we’d take a lunch break together. Now I don’t have a lunch partner.” In his wife’s new role, they call or text each other with product questions. But, auto glass talk stays at work. “I try not to mix work with home.” He says others often ask him how he works with his wife. He tells them: “Work is work.”
She says she liked working with her husband because she could ask him questions if she needed help with anything. “And showing everyone else that a married couple can work together,” she also says of what she misses about working with her husband at Mygrant.
“We’ve always been able to [ensure that] work is work and home is home,” Delena says. She adds that her husband usually surprises her for Valentine’s Day. “I think he’s got something up his sleeve [for this year].”
“I think I do,” Jason hints, saying he usually surprises his wife for Valentine’s Day or their anniversary.
Lou and Rose Denning of Denning Auto Glass in Coldwater, Mich.
Lou and Rose Denning will celebrate 45 years of marriage in June. On their first date, the couple went to a drive-in theater and saw “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” “And we just kept going from there,” Lou says. From living next door to each other to marriage to four children and nine grandchildren, the couple owns Denning Auto Glass in Coldwater, Mich.
Lou started in the auto glass industry in 1992. The couple opened their business in 2003. She is a customer service representative and handles accounting, product ordering and scheduling. He performs windshield repairs and replacements. “We do all right,” Rose says of working with her husband. “I’ve had comments from many people saying: ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ When we’re at work, we do our jobs.”
The couple has fun at work when they can but also faces the challenges of business owners. After many years, they’ve learned to adapt to changes in the industry. “You have to [adapt and change]. All change is hard, but you have to go with it,” Rose says. At first, they were resistant to adding calibration as part of their shop’s services. Then, she says, they realized they “better get on board with this.” They took a class and bought the necessary equipment. “That’s one of the big changes. I know a lot of glass companies are not getting on board with that.”
Lou says his wife does a great job working with insurance companies, and the couple balances each other at work. “She does what I don’t want to do, and I do what she doesn’t want to do,” he says. “She’s just always there and doesn’t complain.”