After Ford’s announcement last week of its Certified Glass Network, technicians and auto glass shop owners are assessing the pros and cons of the program. Ford Certified Glass Network provides certification with certain requirements to auto glass technicians to install Ford and Lincoln auto glass.
Some see the opportunity for technicians to become certified to install glass in Ford and Lincoln vehicles as an advantage.
“I think it’s fantastic the OEMs are going this direction,” says Ian Lintner, co-owner of Lloyd’s Glass & Correct Calibration Services in Pensacola. “I think it’s great there will be a barrier to getting into the industry.” Lintner says the more regulation and certification necessary with calibration, the better. “It’ll be more beneficial for the consumer,” he adds. “Consumers will drive away in a better product, and a safer vehicle on the road.”
His father and business co-owner, Barry Lintner, agrees. “It’s the wild, wild west” right now when it comes to calibration and adding more value to vehicles with technology. Barry Lintner says some technicians do not fully know what they are doing when it comes to calibration. “And they’re out there touching people’s cars and nobody knows they’re doing it.”
Barry Lintner says he thinks FCGN is a good idea, as well as the new law in Arizona and includes a $2,500 fine for any auto glass shop that fails to inform the consumer of the need for calibration and not performing calibration on a vehicle with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). “That’s a step in the right direction,” he says. He adds that he is not about more government being in people’s lives except when it comes to consumer protection. “I’m all for it.”
Ian Lintner says he just hired two technicians who came to Lloyd’s Glass after long-term service with a national company replacing windshields and performing calibrations. “The level of accuracy and how strict we are with the tools we use surprised them,” he says. For example, neither knew that tire pressure on a vehicle could affect calibration accuracy and results. “We’re elevating ourselves apparently to a better level than the big guys,” Ian Lintner says.
Barry Lintner questions whether use of Ford software and tools is necessary or a matter of proprietary concern. FCGN requires technicians certified in the program to use Ford software and OEM tools when installing Ford or Lincoln auto glass.
Ian Lintner says the company will discuss the program, including its costs and benefits if Lloyd’s Glass should have its technicians become Ford-certified. “I will definitely consider it.”
“We’re committed to being in business correctly,” Barry Lintner says. Lloyd’s Glass’s way is doing it right from the beginning.
Barry and Ian both expect other OEMs to follow Ford and create certification programs. “I think the positive thing is if Ford is putting out a program like this, it means they’re beginning to understand [the importance of calibration],” Ian Lintner says, as well as pre- and post-scans. FCGN is beneficial for everyone in the auto glass industry.
Some members of the industry are still gathering information about the program before making any decisions. “We think it’s going to affect the right to repair,” says Jon Laski, CEO of City Auto Glass, which has locations in Minnesota and Florida. “We’re not putting it down in any way.” Laski says discussion was held about FCGN, but the company is unsure of the pros and cons of signing on to the program.
City Auto Glass has 33 locations just in Minnesota and, from Laski’s understanding the program charges per location. “That becomes a pretty pricy, large investment,” he says. City Auto made an “astronomical investment” in tools for technicians.”
Laski says the company is not opposed to what Ford is doing. If a company has only one shop, then the investment is cost effective. “If you have multiple locations, how can you afford that?” He sees General Motors jumping on board to offer a program of its own. Laski says the question is whether FCGN is intended to provide support to auto glass shops or to direct them.
“We’re still in a discovery phase,” says Steve Partch, technical manager for City Auto Glass in south St. Paul, Minn. Partch began training technicians on calibration in 2017, and all of City Auto Glass’s technicians are Auto Glass Safety Council-certified “We’re certified. We’re all caught up,” he says.
Partch says he sees good points about the program, however, City Auto already has all the tools necessary to perform replacement and calibration. FCGN would require the company buy Ford tools for shops. “It’s a good idea and it’s a bad idea.
“I think it’s intrusive, and, honestly, I think it’s expensive.” Partch says he does not want to sound negative about FCGN, but it seems to him that Ford is steering business back to Ford dealerships. “Or whoever pays to play,” he says.
Tiffany and Lee Swindell own and operate JJB Auto Glass, Atascadero, Calif. “I think anything that is for ADAS and safety of our customers is obviously important for our shops. The more education our technicians have, the better,” Tiffany Swindell says.
She hopes the program is affordable for small businesses like JJB Auto Glass. She and her husband will definitely discuss and think about FCGN, because any information from the manufacturer is good for an auto glass shop. She does not see negatives about the program. “I don’t think anything is negative when it comes to safety for our customers,” she says. Auto glass technicians can never know enough about safety and calibration, because the technology is in a constant state of evolution. “The more you have your hands in the pot for education, the more on top of it you’re going to be.”