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Industry Reacts to Belron US AGRSS Statements

Many industry representatives, including AGRSS Council Inc. president Cindy Ketcherside, have expressed concern about statements made by Belron US executive vice president Tom Feeney at the Independent Glass Association's (IGA) Annual Conference in Las Vegas last week and company spokesperson Jenny Cain yesterday on glassBYTEs.com™.

When asked last week during a presentation about his position on AGRSS, Feeney advised Belron US didn't intend to register because it doesn't support third-party validation. (CLICK HERE for related story.)

Yesterday, Cain advised glassBYTEs.com™/AGRR magazine that company officials believe that its own training and certification program, SafeTech, "takes the [AGRSS] Standard as adopted to a higher level."(CLICK HERE for related story.)

In response to these statements, Ketcherside notes there seems to be confusion about the actual content of the Standard and what it addresses.

"The comment Tom Feeney made at the AGRSS Conference, as well as the subsequent statement issued by Belron/US, lead me to believe there is tremendous confusion within the Belron US organization of the actual document ANSI/AGRSS 002-2002, the industry's Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard and the AGRSS-registered company program," she says.

She also speaks to the involvement of Belron US in the development of the Standard.

"The disturbing part of these statements is that AGRSS is, and has always been, a full industry-wide effort, including individuals from the Belron US organization who helped write the Standard and develop Phase I and Phase II of the AGRSS-registered company program," Ketcherside adds. "It belongs to our industry as a whole without partisanship or politics. It was developed to help advance our industry in auto glass installation that complies with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards."

Finally, Ketcherside says she hopes that Belron US will remain a part of the effort-and perhaps even become a registered company in the future.

"As the largest provider of auto glass services in this country, we would like Belron to be part of the effort to create a healthy industry," she says. "Having Belron US embrace, rather than discount, AGRSS registration would be one of the strongest and most effective leadership statements the company could make in the United States. Having seen Belron's leadership role in other countries, we are extremely surprised at its parochial view of the AGRSS Standard and the AGRSS-registered company program."

IGA president Dave Zoldowski, who also serves as president of an AGRSS-registered company, Auto One in Brighton, Mich., and a member of the AGRSS Standards Committee, also expressed reservations about the company's stance on the AGRSS-registered company program.

"After reading Belron US spokesman Jenny Cain's response to Tom Feeney's comments at our IGA Conference in Las Vegas May 2, stating that Safelite's SafeTech program takes the AGRSS Standard as adopted to a higher level, it makes me ask a question: 'what does the company have to hide?'" Zoldowski says.

He adds, "Tom Feeney's statement that [Belron US] support[s] AGRSS but [doesn't] support audits is like asking a fox to watch a henhouse. My hands-on experience with our own company and the challenges that we went through getting our four corporate stores and 11 franchise locations AGRSS -registered tells me [Belron US] must have issues with self-audits, let alone third-party audits."

Zoldowski also notes that, as a regional chain, his company is in the process of preparing for the third-party audit and the challenges it will present.

"We currently have eight installers with expired NGA certifications going through IGA certification," he says. "We have 10 more scheduled to go through IGA certification next month. Our Mainstreet and Quest POS systems are being updated to allow us to collect all the required data online versus the separate records we are now keeping as part of being an AGRSS-registered company."

Zoldowski says he also can see how difficult actually becoming an AGRSS-registered company would be for a large, national company such as Belron US.

"Since the majority of Belron's replacements are mobile, just insuring safe drive-away time is a challenge, let alone [the company's] structure of affiliates and the data collection and inspection process the AGRSS-registered company program requires," he says.

"Third-party audits keep honest people honest," Zoldowski adds.

IGA has been a proponent of the AGRSS-registered company program, even paying for its members' registration fees in certain instances, Zoldowski says.

"IGA is very supportive of the AGRSS-registered company program. In fact, IGA will even pay for our members to become AGRSS-registered if they meet certain educational requirements," he says. "But Safelite's refusal to be part of this industry-wide effort is a serious blow to safety. If you say your program is better than the AGRSS program, wouldn't you want to show you meet the AGRSS program requirements first? It just doesn't make sense that you wouldn't unless you couldn't."

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