Auto Glass Week’s second day of action on Thursday, Sept. 15 saw continued educational seminars, more visits to exhibitor booths on the show floor, and, of course, a presentation from XYG North America-sponsored keynote speaker Mike Rowe.
Rowe, a television host, writer and narrator, spoke to a capacity room on Thursday to discuss work that makes the lives of people possible.
“I want to tell you about the moment in my life when I realized everything about work was wrong,” says Rowe.
The story starts when Rowe’s mother called him to tell him that his grandfather, who was a jack of all trades, was soon turning 90 years old and wanted to see Rowe do something that actually “resembled work.”
Enlightened, Rowe went to his boss at his news station in San Francisco and pitched a segment to capture the lives of everyday people and the types of work that they do. Rowe went out and attempted to cover industries not typically known to the common person, like crawling through the sewer systems of San Francisco.
“It takes a minute for your eyes to adjust, but your nose doesn’t take time to adjust at all,” recalls Rowe of his time in the sewers. “The stench gets on your teeth. You’re just stunned. Once your eyes get adjusted, you look down and realize that you’re standing in a river of crap. You just stand there festooned in this filth.”
To Rowe, this looked like a place of work. A place that his grandfather would recognize. My grandfather was going to love this, says Rowe, and my grandmother would be so proud.
Thanks to his time interacting with the cockroaches, rats and excrement that reside in the sewers of San Francisco, Rowe’s view on work changed completely.
“I was watching something that I had not seen before,” says Rowe. His time spent in the sewers caused him to realize that everything he had learned in his career had been wrong. He had become disconnected with everything during his time in front of the camera.
“At that moment, in my cubicle, I saw something on my screen that looked like truth,” says Rowe. “I needed something to give me a shake.” He cut the video, aired it and was fired the next day.
Rowe proceeded to take the segment, shopped it around and turned into Dirty Jobs on Discovery. Since then, “the last 30 years have been like groundhog day in the sewer,” says Rowe. “But, it’s been great.”
Throughout his time on Dirty Jobs, Rowe realized that many business owners struggle to find skilled laborers. As a result, Rowe created his foundation, mikeroweWorks, which strives to close the skills gap by challenging the stigmas and stereotypes that discourage people from pursuing the millions of available jobs.
“That’s why I am here today,” says Rowe. “I am standing by to help out. If that doesn’t work, I have the sewers.”
Many auto glass companies are searching for more employees. But what if you’re not searching for new employees, but rather looking to shift from a technician to an owner?
The path from technician to owner is a tough, rewarding grind. Each technician-to-owner has their own journey, whether they got laid off from a previous job, wanted to do things better or were fighting to survive.
For many, the ability to control what happens, like purchasing the proper equipment to hiring the best people, is more than worth the difficult times.
“It’s something that I always wanted to do because I can control the quality going out of the shop,” says Aaron Bradford, owner of Driftwood Auto Glass. “There’s nothing better than being your own boss.”
For Peter Brown, president of Tiny and Sons Auto Glass, the journey to becoming an owner was one of survival. That was our job, to survive, says Brown. He and his family had to do all that they could to put food on the table.
Once you own your shop, you have to work tirelessly to provide quality work in a timely, cost-effective way. However, most new owners don’t start with much. To get new clients, the best thing that you can do is set up a Google review page, says Bradford. Once you start to get positive reviews, more people will take notice and head your way. That’s because reviews are gold.
Bradford also recommends handing out business cards whenever you can.
Joshua Call, owner of Badlands Auto Glass, says that he spent a lot of time knocking on doors when he first started. It also helps to know people. He says that local shops and detailers will send business his way just because of his relationships with them.
“It’s also a matter of treating your customers like an individual,” says Call.
If you treat your customers with respect and are honest with them, your business will start to flourish thanks to positive word of mouth. Call adds that you need to get the job done right the first time; however, if you do make a mistake, make sure that you rectify it immediately.
Brown recommends being actively involved in your community. Do all that you can to help others and put yourself out there, he says.
“All the money coming in is the community’s trust in you,” says Bradford.
Community trust also played a part in the next AGW seminar of the day. With emerging and ever-evolving ADAS technology in vehicles, the path forward for mobile-only operations isn’t always clear. Panelists for the session titled “Bye Bye Brick and Mortar: Your Future Business is Mobile,” recommend building relationships with brick-and-mortar businesses to allow for safe calibrations.
“There’s nothing wrong with being a mobile shop, it’s all in how you do your business,” said moderator Peter Brown. “If you’re going mobile, you want to have relationships with a brick-and-mortar shop or a business that does calibrations.”
Jonathan Laski, CEO of City Auto Glass, says there is no mobile solution for calibrations.
“Get a bay partnership with someone and utilize their bay space,” he says. “This will be a financial decision that can make all the change in the world. It allows you to build trust in the community by having a location that lets the community know you’re here to stay.”
However, keep in mind that those relationships require mobile-only shops to run off the schedules of their partners, at least in part. Aaron Bradford says that his partners are happiest when customers are sent their way quickly.
Panelists also provided seminar attendees with some additional tips and tricks for success. David Owuori, owner of Kar-Glass in Texas, recommends a hybrid model if the mobile business can afford it. If not, he says relationship building is vital.
Other tips for mobile-only businesses included paying attention to the weather and scheduling jobs efficiently so as to not waste time traveling. The panelists also spoke to the importance of presentation. If arriving at a job and the truck is a mess and tools are hanging from the bed, that presentation won’t inspire much customer confidence. Furthermore, a solid presentation could serve to attract additional business from onlookers.
“A vehicle is the second-most important purchase behind a house,” says Laski. “Present yourself well.”
The seminar titled “Young Guns: Meet Your Future Employee and the Next Generation of Auto Glass Specialists” saw the newest generation of auto glass specialists take the stage to answer questions about their experiences in the auto industry.
The best part of the auto glass industry is the educational aspect, says Jennifer Curbow, customer service representative at NOVUS Glass. There’s always something to learn. Jorge Sandoval, owner of KD Auto Glass, adds that he loves the fact that he can dictate his own time as an owner.
When it comes to the types of people that do well in this business, the ones that succeed are the ones with drive, says Sandoval.
“You have to be teachable,” says Sandoval. “The people that fail are not problem solvers. If you’re not able to solve all the issues, you’re going to become really stressed out.”
You also have to be able to adapt, says Curbow. You have to be willing to try new things. That’s the great thing about trade shows. They provide ample opportunity to learn about new methods and technologies.
If you are looking to break into the auto glass industry, Curbow recommends that you commit to learning. Thinking outside the box is vital, she adds. She also wants people that are friendly and respectful.
Sandoval looks for people who are customer oriented. They also need to be teachable and a hard worker.
“You have to make new employees understand that what they do matters,” says Sandoval.
From the Show Floor
Exhibitors were back on the show floor come 1 p.m. Thursday.
Agile Truck and Auto Tools was on the show floor with its collection of ADAS calibration equipment, including the Autel MA600 LDW, Standard Frame LDW, IA900 LDW and the MA600 Core2. Agile’s Will Govan, based out of Indiana, says show goers are better educated with respect to calibration than they were last year. And he noted that it’s nice to see so much traffic at Auto Glass Week.
“Last year involved a lot of education, getting them to know that they actually need this equipment as glass installers,” Govan says. “This year, people are a lot better educated and a lot of them actually have our systems currently. It’s kind of building our back business and if you need additional products, we’ll be here to help you out. Generally, we’ve received very positive feedback.”
Business is “very strong” for Agile, especially from July 2022. Since that time, Govan says Agile Truck and Auto Tools has experienced an upward trend in sales, as well as developed a number of new business leads.
Auto Glass CRM is attending Auto Glass Week for the first time this year.
Jonathan Clayton says that the company accomplished its goals for the week as early as Wednesday, prompting the company representative to say Auto Glass CRM will return to future events.
“Most of our customers are using our software for the VIN decoder,” he says. “We’re mainly a VIN decoder that offers CRM services within the software. We’ve already had a guy come up and say ‘We use your decoder all the time, you guys are great.’”