Happy New Year: A Look at the Top Ten Stories
December 30, 2009
As we enter another New Year, glassBYTEs.com/AGRR
magazine has taken a look back at the year's headlines and compiled
those that were most read and generated the most feedback. Following
is an overview of the year's top headlines.
St. John, Heilman, Rossey and Others Released from PGW:
Several of the top stories referenced long-time industry player
and manufacturer Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW). However, the layoffs
announced at the end of last March, which included several long-time
employees, industry notables and key management personnel, drew
much industry attention. Shortly after glassBYTEs.com learned of
and reported about the layoffs, PGW announced that the goal of the
layoffs were to "eliminate redundancy." PGW management
also announced at that time that it would be reviewing all its operations
and would restructure these-an announcement that came to fruition
shortly thereafter and also generated much interest.
Farm Issues Reminder about "Insignia and Logo Glass" Policy:
Though State Farm officials say it has long had in place a policy
for how it handles "insignia and logo glass," an announcement/reminder
about this came as quite a surprise to the industry when it was
released last April. This story, and several follow-ups, including
a memorable interview
with State Farm spokesperson Jeff McCollum and industry
reaction to the announcement, were among not only the most read,
but also the most talked about news stories of the year.
to Take Over Vitro America's Auto Glass Distribution Business Effective
June 24: Pittsburgh Glass Works again made headlines in
June when it took over Vitro America's auto glass distribution business.
Though neither company has commented publicly on this massive change,
even six months later, many clearly expected an impact, based on
the widespread interest in this story.
Purchases Iowa Glass Auto Glass Assets: Belron US's acquisition
of Iowa Glass's auto glass assets could be known as the purchase
heard around the world-or at least around the auto glass industry.
This acquisition was one that was long-predicted by industry representatives,
as much as a year before it occurred. Approximately three weeks
before the two companies announced that they had reached an agreement,
Iowa Glass president Steve Dummermuth advised glassBYTEs.com
he wouldn't comment on such rumors (CLICK
HERE for that story). But on September 23, it was in fact confirmed
and the sale closed on September 30 (CLICK
HERE for that story).
Prepares for Launch of TV Advertising; Also Plans Mass Hiring:
It's hard to believe that Safelite technician Erik Schumaker's name
ever was not a common one, but it was just this past August that
Safelite announced that it would undertake a massive television
advertising campaign. Now, Schumaker's name is one known not only
by those in the industry, but at one time also was known by many
consumers across the United States who tuned into CBS, NBC, TNT,
TBS and USA, during the two-week ad campaign. The campaign continued
to be a popular topic throughout its run (CLICK
HERE to read about the official October launch and to view the
commercial), but the initial announcement that it was on its way,
along with the news that Safelite planned to increase its fleet
of technicians, seemed to generate even more excitement than Shumaker's
US Files Suit Against Coast to Coast and Former Employee; Alleges
Employee is Violating Non-Compete: Though industry giant
Belron US often is a recurring topic in industry circles, when the
company filed suit against another notorius industry player, Coast
to Coast Auto Glass, our readers certainly tuned in. Though the
suit has since been dismissed (CLICK
HERE to view that story), the allegations that a former Belron
US employee had joined Coast to Coast, despite a non-compete agreement,
created quite a stir.
Registration Absolves Montana Glass Shop in Recent Case, Shop Owner
Reports: Jeff Tribble, owner of J&D Auto Glass in Missoula,
Mont., may not be a name you hear often in the industry, but his
story is one in which many took interest. Tribble has an interesting
tale about how registering that he follows the Auto Glass Safety
Standard (AGRSS) paid off for him in a recent suit filed against
him. Tribble's story began with a simple call requesting that he
send a technician 90 miles away to replace a windshield on a 1971
Mercedes-and what happened next surely surprised both Tribble and
others who took interest in his story.
Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Glass Shops on Issue of Unilateral
Contracts; Question of Fair and Reasonable Pricing Returned to Trial
Court: Notable industry attorney and AGRR columnist Chuck
Lloyd of Livgard and Lloyd has been known to describe unilateral
contracts in a simple way, noting that it "takes two to tango."
HERE to read a column from Lloyd on this topic.) So this particular
Connecticut decision certainly was one of victory for auto glass
shops, particularly in the state of Connecticut. Though the Connecticut
Supreme Court declined to make a decision on what constitutes "fair
and reasonable pricing" in the case and remanded this part
of the case to a trial court, it ruled clearly that when the glass
shops involved were sent pricing letters by Safelite (which in this
case was acting as glass claims administrator for Hanover Insurance),
unilateral contracts were not agreed upon-and no agreement to submit
to this pricing structure had been made on the part of the glass
Glass Works to Close Evart, Mich., Plant; Company Officials Continue
to Research Another Possible Closing: Just two months before
Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) announced layoffs of several key employees
(see above), it also announced that it would be closing one of its
plants in Evart, Mich. Since then, it also announced that it would
close another plant in Hawkesbury, Ontario (CLICK
HERE for more), but it seems it was the initial announcement
about the Michigan plant that generated the most industry attention
of the two closings. Like many other auto glass manufacturers that
have had to reduce plant capacity, lay off employees and close facilities
this year, PGW cited the automotive industry's downturn and the
reduced demand in the automotive arena as the reasons for the closings.
the New York Insurance Agent Kickbacks-One Shop Owner's Story:
It's never been a secret that some glass shops choose to offer incentives
to insurance agents to generate business from those agents' customers.
In fact, in October 2007, AGRR magazine took an in-depth
look at this practice and how it affects industry participants (CLICK
HERE to view). But two years later, this October, several New
York insurance agents incurred massive fines for engaging in the
practice, after two shop owners decided they could no longer afford
to offer incentives and went forward to the state's insurance department
with their concerns about what this was doing to the industry. (In
New York, it's legal for auto glass businesses to provide the incentives,
but illegal for the agents to take them.) Shortly after the fines
were announced, Rick Galluzzi, owner of Bison Auto Glass in Buffalo,
N.Y., one of the two companies that had brought the matter to the
state's attention, spoke out and explained not only how he became
involved in the practice, but also what led him to quit.
Which of these stories impacted you most? Do you see any omissions
from the list-anything you expected to make the list that didn't?
And, what do you think 2010 has in store for the auto glass industry?
Please e-mail email@example.com.
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