Auto Glass Week™ Garners Rave Reviews
September 19, 2011

"We're back." These words, spoken by Carl Tompkins of Sika Corp. during the opening ceremony of Auto Glass Week™ 2011, referred to the auto glass industry at large and were echoed by many throughout the three-day event, held last week in Memphis, Tenn. The historic event brought together all of the industry's auto glass groups, the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards (AGRSS®) Council Inc., the Independent Glass Association (IGA), the National Glass Association (NGA), the National Windshield Repair Association (NWRA) and™/AGRR™ magazine for the first time all in one location.

The event drew more than 1,000 attendees from all over the world, as far as Spain, Australia and Germany, and gave all an opportunity to participate in three days of educational sessions, along with a massive Exhibition/Extravaganza. Among the booths, AGRR magazine's Pilkington Clear Advantage Auto Glass Technician Olympics and the Walt Gorman Memorial Windshield Repair Olympics also were centrally located, so all could view the events while also visiting with suppliers.

In addition, the International Window Film Tint-Off and Conference™ were held concurrently and participated in several joint sessions with the auto glass groups.

"This is truly a historic occasion," said David Rohlfing, AGRSS Council vice president and president of Glass America, in his portion of the event welcome.

"We're here—look at this," agreed NGA's David Walker. ""This is the first annual Auto Glass Week where we're all under one roof."
"Sharing ideas is the point of coming together," echoed NWRA president Kerry Wanstrath of Glass Technology.
As the week went on, many agreed that the event truly was a historic one to remember.

Bill Rogers of Alabama GlasTek in Birmingham, Ala., has participated in many prior conferences over the years. "This has been one of the best conferences I've ever attended," he said.

"It's wonderful to be able to make one trip instead of three or four," said David Casey, president of Orlando, Fla.-based SuperGlass. "Having the NWRA, IGA, NGA, AGRSS, all the groups together, the window tinting people-we're all getting more information, getting more excitement, more motivation, so it's excellent to be able to share with all the other associations, and merge our knowledge and our resources … "

"In the past, most of the segments of the auto glass industry, being repair and replacement, with filming, have been kind of separated," said Scott Owens of Excel Auto Glass in Lake Katrine, N.Y. "It gives us the opportunity to really network with people, and what their feelings are, what the trends are, how they're addressing the changes in the industry, and it's been very informative."

Several attendees pointed to Kelly McDonald's seminar on marketing to the evolving consumer arena as a top pick.
"It was very factual," said Linda Rollinson of Superior Auto Glass in Tarpon Springs, Fla. "You can see the changes [occurring in the market]."

"It was very enlightening to hear a lot of the changes that I've been trying to push with us, and it was kind of solidification to hear it from someone else and to hear it from a professional," said Chris Greene of Ray Sands Glass in Rochester, N.Y.

Suppliers and event sponsors also were glad to be a part of the event. "It's been very good," said Bud Van Gorp of Windshield Guru, whose company contracts installers and shops across the country to complete jobs booked on its website. "We've gotten to even meet some of our installers face to face."

The inclusion of the window film industry also was beneficial, according to Korey Gobin of Delta Kits Inc. "Being here with the window film industry gave us a chance we wouldn't normally have to see a different portion of the market," he said.

"It really was a working meeting," added Tim Siterlet of Carlex.

"Good location, great food," said Dan Mock of HSG/ProGlass Alliance. "This is a real win."

Show organizers and co-sponsors also were pleased to see the results of many months of planning and cooperation between the numerous groups.

"Everyone's been very pleased," said IGA president Alan Epley as the event came to a close. "It's been a good week."

AGRR™ publisher Debra Levy said the dates and location for next year's event will be announced in the next few weeks.

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