Rumors of financial problems at Safelite are nothing more than that, according to a company spokesperson. "There are been rumors, we hear them too," said vice president of marketing Denise Klapper in an exclusive interview with AGRR/glassbytes.com today. "But Safelite is fine. Our November sales were the strongest of the year and we are very profitable."
When asked about coming changes in the company's 401(k) plan, Klapper said the Columbus-based company had recently announced it would not make any employer matching contributions to the plan in 2005. "Like GM and many other companies, we are cutting back," she said. "But the program remains in place and all employees' contributions are in place as well." Klapper also confirmed that Don Giles had left the company and that senior vice president Beth Wolszon will leave at the end of January.
"Obviously there have been changes," said Klapper. "Everyone has changes. We have been looking at our overhead costs and trying to reduce them and invest more in sales and services. It's no secret that pricing has declined drastically in the auto glass industry and we don't see that changing in the near future. But I can assure you we are not in trouble." Klapper said that Safelite is just making sure its cost structure is in line with this reduced level of profitability.
Klapper responded "no" when asked if she had heard an unconfirmed report that one of Safelite's main financial backers had declined to renew its financing. "I am not aware of anything like that," she said "We are making all our payments on a timely basis."
Unsubstantiated rumors of another impending Safelite bankruptcy have also been circulating. Industry insiders say that Safelite is profitable and if it were to consider bankruptcy it might be of its wholesale division. "They don't need to shed debt this time, they need to get out from some existing contracts," said one industry insider.
"I know nothing about anything like that," said Klapper. "It's the farthest thing from the truth I can imagine."
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