The final day of Auto Glass Week 2022 in San Antonio kicked off with seminars that covered the best ways to increase business and wrapped up with a Career Day panel that focused on why the auto glass industry is a rewarding career path.
Working With Other Auto-Related Companies to Drive Business
The first session of the day, hosted by Michael Lopez, president of Auto Glass Now, and Mars Shah, president of Driven Glass, dove into how small business owners can source new business and build lasting relationships.
According to Shah, the best steps for a company to become successful and enticing to customers is to create a winning culture, bring value to your services, listen to the needs of those around you, stay consistent with your core values and build processes that deliver repeatable outcomes.
“At the end of the day, the underlining thing is to build lasting relationships,” says Lopez. “It comes down to the people.”
It also comes down to finding exceptional talent and fostering that talent, adds Lopez. For Shah, it is crucial to allow people to grow in their roles. Without room for growth, people will slowly lose the motivation to continue to improve. This will eventually cause a drain on your company.
When it comes to building your business, there are various steps small businesses can take. These include focusing on digital marketing, determining whether you want to open a brick-and-mortar or instead focus on mobile and honing in on where you want to drive revenue.
Lopez says that fluidity is also key. When one regiment declines, such as retail, it’s important to adjust and target other avenues, such as commercial, fleet or insurance.
How to Make a Living in the Auto Glass Industry
There’s no better industry than the automotive industry, whether you are interested in window tinting or glass installation, students were told at the first ever Career Day sponsored by Auto Glass Safety Council.
John Laski, CEO of City Auto Glass, says that not only is there money to be made, but it’s also an easy industry to get into. He adds that if you learn the trade, you can get any job in the auto industry if you apply yourself.
However, it has been difficult to find auto glass installers. That’s because most people assume that a four-year degree is an appropriate path for financial success. That’s far from the truth. Glass technicians and tinters can make a ton of money, says Roberta Rodriquez, owner of Modesto Window Tint. That’s compared to those who pursue a college degree and ultimately end up with tens of thousands of dollars in debt while working low-paying jobs.
Those who become auto glass technicians enter into an industry that provides immediate financial relief and job satisfaction. That doesn’t mean the work is smooth sailing. Auto glass technicians have to work hard to move up in the industry. They need to set goals and grind before reaping the rewards.
“Be the best that you can be at what you do,” says Dave Leach of Don’s Mobile Glass in Modesto, Calif. “If you do that you will succeed. If you think that everything is below you, you will not succeed. I’ve been in this industry for a long time. I’ve been through all of this.”
A.N. Designs Inc. exhibited its collection of manual auto glass removal products at Auto Glass Week. The hand-tool line includes the popular lever knives, as well as the new UltraWiz UltraReach Knife, a non-cable product.
“A lot of these tools have been out for a long time, but still people don’t realize that they’re out there until they come to a show like this and put their hands on it,” says Robert Nilsson of A.N. Designs. “It’s neat to have that face-to-face interaction that we missed for so many years.”
Nilsson says business is “fantastic” at A.N. Designs.
“After that short period with everything shut down, it was like someone flicked a light switch and it’s been incredible since late 2020,” Nilsson says. “It’s been phenomenal.”
Kevin Atkins was just one of the representatives of American Glass Distributors, a distributor of automotive glass and supplies, answering questions from a long line of booth visitors.
“People want to know where we service and what we sell,” Atkins says.
American Glass Distributors provides OEM and aftermarket parts for numerous vehicle makes and models. The company also offers several auto glass tools, including hand, power-cut and more. Primers, urethanes and even glass cleaners are on the table.
“Business is good in general,” Atkins says. “The best it’s ever been? Probably not, but it’s still plenty good enough.”
California’s Alldata offers 100% OEM repair information, providing the auto glass industry with “all your manufacturers’ information in one easy-to-use online platform,” says Rhett Holland.
“For the glass side of the business, ADAS calibration information is imperative to the repair process, knowing what we need to perform a safe and proper repair,” Holland continues.
But there are still many people who believe scan tools provide all the information they need to perform those repairs and calibrations properly.
“So I think there’s an educational piece to understand that we do need to be doing some research,” Holland says. “But it’s been very well received and business has been great. We’ve been No. 1 in the industry these last few years.”
Denver-based CarCal Experts unveiled its brand new Easy Cal 1.0 at Auto Glass Week, described as a portable calibration system.
“This thing breaks down into four pieces, and one thing we do is we provide you with the numbers,” says Craig Weskamp. “So if you already have a tablet you don’t need to buy one because it’s compatible with everything. On the back of each target, we’ll tell you where you set the height and where the targets go.”
The only other steps in the process are to click “next” on one’s tablet and finally “calibration.”
“This is the first day this has been public,” says Michael Preisendorf. “We’ve been using it in the field for quite a while, but we’ve never tried to sell one until today.”
Preisendorf says the technology allows CarCal Experts to perform calibrations on 30 to 50 cars a day. The two company representatives combined have performed 72 calibrations in only four hours. Generally, 12 calibrations per hour are possible with Easy Cal 1.0.
“When we built it we thought ‘this thing is so good, these glass guys need this,’” Weskamp says.
CarCal Experts attended Auto Glass Week for the first time this year. Easy Cal 1.0 didn’t even exist six months ago.
“The response has been awesome,” says Weskamp, adding that competitors were even taking notice before the show started.
Carlex Glass was on hand with a selection of its automotive glass products, as well as representatives equipped with the knowledge to inform attendees of all the company’s additional offerings.
Of particular interest to one visitor of the Carlex exhibit was the database that allows for cross-referencing of NAGS numbers against VINs. Elaine Marshall of Carlex says the database allows shops to ensure they’re finding and using the correct parts.
This is also the first year Marshall has attended Auto Glass Week.
“It’s beautiful,” she says. “I hadn’t been to an Auto Glass Week yet. It’s a good setup, and I look forward to being able to walk around and see everybody that’s here, what they’re doing and what kinds of questions they’re getting.”
On display at the Delaware-headquartered DuPont exhibit this week were the company’s Betaseal urethanes. Company representatives received positive feedback on the products, including the new U-428HV formula, while attendees also sought guidance concerning supply challenges.
“Primarily right now, there are supply challenges with urethane, of course,” says Cal O’Connor of questions asked by booth visitors. “But things are getting better. From a raw material standpoint, things are good and certainly improving, and output is going to continue to increase to the market.”
DuPont received positive feedback on multiple products, in particular the new U-428HV formula.
“A lot of customers are starting to see that higher viscosity formula,” O’Connor says. “It also cuts the drive-away time basically in half. So now it’s three hours above 50 degrees and four hours from 32 to 50 degrees. That’s a massive improvement.”
After the associated struggles with COVID-19, O’Connor says it’s nice to see customers’ faces and receive feedback at Auto Glass Week.