by Bob Beranek
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Why do people often fight change? Is it because change is uncomfortable? Is it because people are convinced their way is better, despite all of the evidence to the contrary? I think it is a little of both. I have personally witnessed heated discussions that rarely change minds or beliefs.

In my interactions with technicians over the years, there seems to be a competition between installation procedures. Two perennial favorites are the arguments over “tucking” or “stuffing” the glass without pulling the cowl panel versus pulling the cowl panel, and squabbles over the benefits of round bead versus triangular bead urethane application.

When it comes to “tucking” or “stuffing” the glass, I always thought that even those who do it realize that it is an improper practice. I believed that if they were given enough time to get the job done right, they would practice safe sets. However, recently I heard a technician actually brag about the great job he did using the “stuff” method of install.

From his description, the bead was applied above the top edge of the panel and the glass is set into a cowl that uses hooks for support and panel attachment. This does make the “stuffing” installation possible because the glass can be set onto the bead and not into the bead. However, the seal and bond are hidden from the tech by the panel. This is not visual confirmation of a bond or a seal being made. If the glass is not set properly, even by a fraction of an inch, the bead will be displaced and the bond compromised. If it oozes out and the cowl is adhered to the glass, the cowl may be damaged upon removal by the next installer. If the glass is inserted into the bead, the chances of air leaks are increased.

The kicker here is that none of the issues described above will be known until the glass is replaced again or if someone is seriously hurt due to a bad bond and installation. Yet the technician bragged about “stuffing” the glass and holds it up as proof that his method is better and faster than everyone else’s. I don’t get it.

In the same vein, triangular beads are recommended and in some cases required for use with adhesives.  Every adhesive company, (automotive, structural or architectural) instruct the application of triangular beads. Every vehicle manufacturer instructs the application of triangular beads. Every assembly plant using adhesives uses triangular beads. Every physics teacher can explain the benefits of the triangular shape and how it is superior in distributing product on a surface. Yet, some auto glass installers continue to believe that round bead distribution is better. Again, I don’t get it.

I know that change is not an easy thing. We all feel more comfortable when the procedures we use are familiar and we all believe our methods work. I remember a time years ago when my boss instructed me to use a plastic stick to put in gasket jobs from then on instead of a metal hook tool. Even worse, he told me to teach this new method to all our technicians. I fought the concept tooth and nail at first because I felt that all technicians needed to know how to use the hook tool. However, if I wanted to keep my job I had to learn and master the “stick-in” style of installation and forget the “hook-in.” How did that workout? Glass breakage dropped by over 75 percent and our company saved thousands of dollars. I learned something new.

I would like to propose a challenge to all who “stuff” and apply round beads. Give change a chance, it will bode us well to be a little less rebellious at times and to try new things that experts tell us work. It may save you money and hassles down the road. What could it hurt?

Last week’s blog was based on feedback about my post “Setting the Standard for Safe Automotive Glass Installations.” I discussed the ease of entering the AGRR industry and the ramifications.

A new poster had a different take. He said: “Consumer education should be the key this industry works through. The state glass associations should be doing TV commercials as a ‘public service’ explaining and educating the public as to the difference in a ‘cheap’ installation and a ‘safe’ installation. It should not be just one shop paying the way but a combined force of shops to show the public the difference.” I couldn’t agree more.

The best way to promote change in an industry is to get the consumer involved. To involve the customer means educating them by whatever means necessary. There have been many different ways the industry has tried to inform the consumer, either through:

  • Insurance agents;
  • State governments;
  • Websites;
  • State and local trade organizations;
  • Handouts;
  • Mailings;
  • Technician certification;
  • Shop certification; and
  • Consumer groups.

All of these initiatives have contributed to consumer awareness, but they have done comparatively little to change consumer perceptions. Public Service Announcements (PSAs) were discussed in Auto Glass Safety Council™ (AGSC) committee and board meetings, but the cost of production is high and some questioned the impact it would have on the public at large. Finally, PSAs were not deemed as particularly effective based on data researched and shared.

The commenter above is right in his response. It takes an entire industry to raise awareness. It would take all of us, individually and collectively, to push change.

What does this look like? There are lots of things we can do. For example, every automotive glass shop that cares about the consumer could send their sales representatives to every insurance agent to discuss safety and proper installation. Each shop owner could push their state government representatives to consider consumer protection laws concerning AGRR.

Industry websites, like www.safewindshields.com and www.AGSC.org, could be used to educate and illustrate to the customer the importance of proper installation. Industry organizations could pool their money to advertise generic consumer awareness ads and, in addition to that, every shop could include in their advertising a safety-related portion explaining the necessity of a proper installation. Safe installation handouts and brochures, like those available through the AGSC, could be on every counter in every branch of every glass shop in every state. Any mailings sent would include an informational section on safety.

You can support industry certifications by attaining them and keeping them current. Lastly, you can get involved in consumer groups that care about safety and fairness in business.

By ourselves we may not have much power to get things done. However, collectively we can move an industry for the better. Get involved and push the message that we care for our customers’ well-being and freedom of choice. This may sound like a noble thing to do for our industry, but in reality it is good for your business, specifically. Better-educated customers mean more business, more business means more profit and more profit means more fun at work.