Remembering Ray Asbery: Auto Glass Industry
Reflects on Loss of an Innovator
September 29, 2011
Many in the industry were stunned yesterday by the news of the
death of industry veteran Ray Asbery, CEO of Equalizer Industries
in Round Rock, Texas, and have reflected on the legacy Asbery has
left, along with his contributions to the industry throughout his
career. Asbery, passed
away unexpectedly on Tuesday, September 27, at the age of 67.
One of Asbery's closest associates, Gilbert Gutierrez, vice president
of Equalizer, first began working with him in 1986, when both were
working for U.S. Auto Glass.
"We became very good friends. In 1987, he left and started
his own company, [which] became Equalizer Industries," recalls
Gutierrez. "He and I kept in contact, and five years after
the birth of Equalizer I came to work for Ray."
While Asbery is credited with many of the industry's most innovative
tools, Gutierrez says he also was devoted to the health of the industry
|Gilbert Gutierrez (center) has known Ray Asbery
(right) and his son, Eric (left), for more than 20 years. [Ray]
loved the industry, and he taught me that, says Gutierrez.
"He tried everything in his power to unite the industry,"
says Gutierrez. "He saw that there was a lot of potential,
and he wanted to continue the work that other people had done, such
as Al Girard and Len Stolk at Carlite. He was a true believer in
education for the industry, always trying to help in whatever it
took, either speaking about how to run a successful business or
how to be a good technician. He opened many doors for many people."
Henri Goudsmit, a long-time associate of Asbery's and former international
sales director for Equalizer, reflected on Asbery's kindness.
"When I worked for Ray, just before I made my first trip to
Europe for Equalizer, he called me to get my daughters' addresses
and phone numbers," says Goudsmit. "If something happened
to me, he wanted to be the first to call [my daughters] and come
to Chicago to help them. That was a side of Ray I cherished the
most. Apart from all the business accomplishments, his human side
was unmatched. Nobody could have a better friend than Ray."
glassBYTEs.com/AGRR magazine has set up a tribute
page on its online forum for remembrances of Asbery, and has
seen an outpouring of thoughts from industry representatives throughout
the world on his untimely death.
"Ray is one of those people that truly cared about people
and their concerns," says Bob Beranek of Automotive Glass Consultants.
"He shared even when it cost him money and time. He was always
willing to help and contribute to the cause. He only used his influence
for good. He cared deeply for the industry that was lucky to have
We as an industry will miss him and I as a friend will
"Everybody in the industry knew Ray," says AEGIS Tools
International president Bob Birkhauser. "He was a true entrepreneur
to the benefit of our industry, yet he was humble and shared his
"He was always available any time I needed advice or support,"
adds Jeff Olive of Glasspro Inc. in Mount Pleasant, S.C. "
I have to say Ray helped our industry reach the level we are at
today. I am proud to have known Ray and will always remember all
he did for me. He will be missed."
"You can't think of the auto glass industry without thinking
of Equalizer, the company that Ray built," says Kerry Wanstrath,
president of Glass Technology in Durango, Colo. "My impression
of Ray has always been he was solid in his word and deed. When he
spoke I listened closely to what he had to say and respected what
he said, because I knew he meant every word. The world could use
[more] people like Ray."
Even some who did not know Asbery personally have expressed their
gratitude for what he has provided for them over the years through
"I never met the man personally, but I do owe him my thanks
for letting me be able to still do auto glass after so many years,"
says Karl Anderson of Anderson's Auto Glass in Williston, Vt.
"[I] have been an Equalizer customer from the first time I
heard of a company that made/sold removal tools," says Neil
Duffy of Auto Glass Menders in San Jose, Calif. "
was a man of vision. He recognized that the auto glass industry
was low-tech and brought us into the 21st century with the tools
he developed and encouraged to be brought to market. Many of us
older guys are still practicing our craft thanks to the tools his
company made available to [us]."
Funeral services will be held on Monday, October 3, at 1 p.m. at
the First United Methodist Church in Pflugerville, Texas. Burial
will follow immediately at Cook Walden Cemetery. A celebration of
Asbery's life will follow the services at the Equalizer Event Center,
and all are welcome to attend, according to the company. Equalizer
will be closed all day Monday in honor of Asbery.
In addition to the service, visitation hours will be from 6 to
8 p.m. on Sunday, October 2, and the Cook Walden Funeral Home in
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