Industry Remembers Kellman in Days Following His Death
January 11, 2010

Though Joe Kellman (shown here in a 1993 file photo) long ago retired from the auto glass industry, his legacy is one that continues to impact the way the industry operates today.

Many industry representatives who worked with industry legend Joe Kellman during his tenure as president of Globe Glass have shared their stories and memories of him with™/AGRR magazine in light of his passing last week. Kellman passed away on his 90th birthday on Thursday, January 7. (CLICK HERE for related story.)

“I just remember him as being this incredibly creative, dynamic generous but tough-minded—take-no-prisoners—kind of a guy—just an amazing, person,” recalls Lyle Hill, president of Chicago-based MTH Industries. “[He had] an amazing, brilliant mind.”

Hill began working for Kellman in 1970, after he’d graduated college, and later led an employee acquisition of the MTH division of Globe Glass and Mirror from him in 1998.

“He was just the most visionary person I’ve ever known,” says Hill. “Everything about the auto glass network as it’s known today—he was at the forefront of that.”

David Rohlfing, president of Glass America, worked with Kellman in the latter half of 1995 during the merger negotiations of U.S. Auto Glass/Globe Glass & Mirror and Windshields America and subsequent formation of Vistar and also remembers Kellman as a tough competitor, as well as other great qualities.

“Mr. Kellman was a good teacher and a great person to work with,” says Rohlfing. “I learned a lot from him and will always remember his legacy to the industry.”

Belron US president Tom Feeney remembers Kellman fondly as well.

"He was very influential to our industry and we considered him a friend of Safelite and I know the Lubners loved him," he said, "though we are sad to hear of his passing he lived a great life."

Kellman's legacy includes beginning the practice of mobile auto glass service which Hill credits Kellman for starting.

One industry representative, posting under the name glasgod1, concurred with a post on the™/AGRR magazine message forum.

“Joe Kellman changed this industry,” says glasgod1. “Some of us like the changes and some hate them. Most don’t even understand how he changed the industry. He was a man of vision.”

Kellman also was known for his charitable work and his founding of the Better Boys Foundation in Chicago and the Kellman/Corporate Community School, and industry representatives today still remember him for this.

“[I] worked for Joe Kellman for many years in the Chicago and Los Angeles markets,” writes GA Blacksheep. “Yes, Mr. Kellman … made the auto glass industry what it is today, from the very first ‘super shop’ on Western Avenue. Let’s also not forget how much he contributed to the Boys Club of Chicago. Sure, he made millions, but he also gave to improve the lives of countless families … He will be missed.”

Rohlfing agrees saying there are a number of people at Glass America who worked for Kellman over the years and all have a lasting respect and fondness for him and all that he did for them and their careers.

“We always swap old stories of him,” says Rohlfing. “He will be missed.”

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