Happy New Year: A Look at the Top Ten Stories of 2011
December 29, 2011

As 2011 comes to a close and 2012 nears, glassBYTEs.com™/AGRR™ magazine has taken a look back at the top headlines of the year. Following is the ranking of the most popular stories of the year.

1. Auto Glass Industry Responds to Allstate Moving to Safelite: Many were stunned this past July when Allstate announced it would be moving its glass claims administration to Safelite Solutions, effective January 1, 2012. The announcement has brought much discussion throughout the industry about what’s in store—and even today, as the effective date of the move nears, the partnership remains a popular topic.

2.  Allstate Files Fraud Suit Against Washington Auto Glass Shop and Its Owners: While several criminal fraud cases have arose in recent years, when Allstate sued a Washington auto glass shop and its owners last January in a civil case, many heads were turned. Michael Perkins, co-owner of Auto Glass Express and Premier Auto Glass in Burien, Wash., was sentenced to a 9-month prison sentence and 240 hours of community service, along with $1.6 million owed in restitution as part of the criminal case. Ultimately, Allstate won the civil case, when Perkins was ordered by the court to pay $726,000 in restitution to the insurer in a default judgment.

3. New York Auto Glass Shop Owner Files Suit Against 14 Insurers, Along with Safelite, PGW and LYNX, for Restraint of Trade: Though insurers and their relationships with third-party administrators (TPAs) is a popular topic among retail glass shops across the United States, many were surprised in May when an independent auto glass shop owner based in Westchester, N.Y., decided to take on two of the industry’s largest TPAs and 14 insurers with a number of issues, ranging from anti-trust concerns to “short payments.” David Harner, owner of Auto Glass of Westchester Windshield Doctor, is representing himself in the case, which continues today in a New York court.

4.  USAA May Now Require Windshield Inspections Prior to Authorizing Work in Five Different States: In January, USAA joined the ranks of insurers to announce that they might sometimes require inspections of windshields involved in glass claims prior to authorizing work on a vehicle, drawing the attention of many. As of March, company officials said they were continuing to evaluate the program, and, in August, glassBYTEs.com™ received further reports of a possible expansion.

5. DNS/Auto Glass Shop President Says the Company Acquired Some Coast to Coast Assets, But Has No Further Affiliation: Coast to Coast Auto Glass made quite a few headlines in 2010 and in early 2011, so it’s no surprise that eyebrows raised when DNS/Auto Glass Shop announced that it had purchased some of its assets. At the same time, Coast to Coast advised glassBYTEs.com that it had exited the auto glass business.

6. Former GlasWeld President Mike Boyle Indicted for Alleged Theft of Company’s Customer List, Identity Theft: Former GlasWeld president Mike Boyle has been a major part of the windshield repair industry for several years, so many were stunned in March when he was charged with theft of his former employee’s customer list and the identity of a former coworker, Lori Patch. Today, Boyle is awaiting a trial for the charges, expected to held in February 2012, and also is involved in a civil suit he has filed against the company, alleging wrongful discharge.

7. Guardian to Cease Operations of Auto & Truck Glass Inc.: Guardian Industries has made headlines throughout the year with the rapid expansion of its retail business, Guardian Auto Glass. Seemingly the most notable headline, though, was when the company announced in April that it would cease operations of Auto & Truck Glass Inc. The company attributed the closure to competitive pressures in certain parts of the auto glass business [that] have driven prices below a breakeven point, an untenable and unsustainable way to do business at Guardian.”

8. Bill Addressing Auto Glass Inspections, TPAs and More Introduced in Arizona: The auto glass industry has seen quite a bit of legislature pop up over the last year that could impact the industry, but the most popularly debated among these likely was an Arizona bill designed to amend the state's insurance code to add language addressing auto glass inspections required by insurers, define several prohibitions for TPAs, and prohibit insurers and TPAs from having a financial interest in auto glass replacement companies. Ultimately, the bill was signed into law in April 2011, though with several amendments.

9. Longtime PPG Auto Glass Exec Frank Archinaco Passes Away: It was with great sadness that many heard of the news in February of the passing of industry legend Frank Archinaco. Archinaco passed away on February 18 at the age of 67 at his home in Sewickley, Pa. He was well known throughout the auto glass industry for the time he spent with PPG Industries’ auto glass business (now Pittsburgh Glass Works.)

10. Belron Confirms $250 Million Financing Deal with U.S. Private Placement Lenders: Belron and its U.S. auto glass retail division, Safelite, made many headlines throughout the year. The worldwide auto glass giant gained a second spot in the year’s rankings for most read news when company officials confirmed they had entered into a $250 million financing deal with several U.S. private placement lenders in February.

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