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Industry Representatives Consider Auto Bailout, Impacts on Industry

As Congress debates the pleas of the Big Three auto manufacturers for loans this week, several industry representatives have opined about what effect—if any—Congress' decision could have on the auto glass industry.

Karl Anderson of Anderson's Auto Glass in Williston, Vt., suspects glass manufacturers would be the main companies impacted by the decision not to provide loans to the Big Three.

"If anything, [there may be] a temporary slowdown, until the manufacturers come out of Chapter 11 and they start up again," he says. "It would affect the glass manufacturers most, but I believe only for a short time."

Already this week, Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) has announced the closing of three auto glass plants-with two more closings to be announced in early 2009.

While the effects on manufacturers who supply the OEM market appear to be clear, with regard to repair and replacement shops, the impact is a bit less predictable.

"There are enough new and used cars on lots to keep us busy and afloat—plus, the fact that people are spending money to keep the vehicles they own on the road," suggests Anderson.

However, Robert Zantow, owner of A-Z Body Shop in Forman, N.D., a body shop that also does glass work, thinks a vote-down of the bailout would result in a status quo situation for replacement companies.

"There is only so much work to be had to begin with," he says. "It will continue to be business as usual."

With regard to fleet work, Ian Graham of Windshield Solutions LLC in Roanoake, Va., does expect a "trickle-down" effect might occur if the loans aren't provided.

"A lot of the businesses that we service would be affected, including dealerships and body shops," Graham says. "Those are some of the biggest customers to a lot of glass shops, so the effect could be felt pretty badly if there are a lot of closings."

At press time, 40.9 percent of auto glass shops surveyed said they think the government should provide assistance to the Big Three; however, the majority, at 59.1 percent, said that the government should not help them.

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