Remembering Ray Asbery: Auto Glass Industry Reflects on Loss of an Innovator
September 29, 2011

Ray Asbery

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 at large.

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."™/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 him … We as an industry will miss him and I as a friend will miss him."

"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 time graciously."

"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 his innovation.

"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. " … Ray 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 Pflugerville.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
Subscribe to AGRR Magazine.