Installer v. Technician

One of the prerogatives of getting older and reflecting on past experiences is to analyze terms that always seemed similar or confusing. The other day I was watching an installation video and remembering some of the students I have had in some of my classes and these two terms came to mind—installer and technician. All of a sudden I began to compare the two terms and define the differences. I thought I would share my thoughts.

First of all, I must make perfectly clear that this is my opinion and not a true definition that should appear in Webster’s American Dictionary.  However, I think it will provoke some discussion. For the sake of simplicity, I am going to refer to the subject of this article as a male of the species though female auto glass professionals fit the same description.

The Installer
An installer is one that gets up every morning and goes to work. He grabs his work orders, loads his truck and collects his supplies. He fuels his service vehicle, sets his route and goes about completing his installations. He meets his customers, smiles brightly and does his job to the best of his ability. Most likely, he is well thought of by his fellow installers, his boss and himself—I don’t know why but it seems that any installer that has over two or three years of experience thinks he knows everything there is about auto glass and its installation, though that is not always the case.

An installer is a thinking man. He is not stupid. He will think through his installation to determine what can be done to make his job easier or faster and he bases that thinking on the knowledge he was given by past training or experience gained. He looks at the job at hand and contemplates either what could be done quicker and faster to get him home so he can make the ball game or what can I do to complete more jobs in a day to gain more money to buy that new flat screen TV. After all, this is what I get paid to do, right? He brags that he can do more jobs than the next guy and do it without leaks or complaints, though he does not have facts to back it up.

An installer sees something different and determines if it needs to be there or if it can be eliminated to facilitate the installation. He will see a problem and solve it with the cheapest and easiest method available to him with no regard to the next installation or the long term effects on the vehicle. An installer resists change because it will make him do something he is not comfortable with, such as additional training, a new tool that needs mastering or a procedure that may slow him down. Safety equipment is for wimps and protective coverings only slow him down.

I know this is a close definition of an installer because I was one of these for many years.

The Technician
A technician is all of the above with a few exceptions. He still gets up and goes to work. He loads his truck and meets his customers with a bright smile. He is also well thought of by his peers, but his boss looks to him for leadership among his fellow workers and has great expectations for promotion and advancement.

A technician is also a thinking man, but does not take anything he sees or hears as fact unless he can prove it himself. He seeks answers and researches constantly. He knows that if a vehicle manufacturer puts something on a vehicle, it is there for a reason and not for a whim and investigates it until he knows why. A technician also looks for short cuts and time savers, but not at the expense of safety. A technician is trained, certified and recertified whenever it is required.  He seeks more knowledge by attending mandatory training, seminars and even outside courses to improve his knowledge of the art. He attends national trade shows if he can afford it and local ones if he can’t. He reads trade magazines, periodicals and service bulletins. He contributes to the industry through blogs, committee service and trade organizations.

A technician also sees something different and asks why? Why is that there? Why does that do that? What is the purpose of that thing? He then determines if that is important to the safety of his customer and replaces, reinstalls or replicates the condition if necessary. If a technician breaks something or damages something he replaces it and tells the customer that he screwed up. A technician sees change for what it is—a challenge that must be mastered and implemented for the good of all. A technician realizes that safety equipment will prolong his career and assure income for his family long-term and that protective coverings will protect the customers’ vehicle from mistakes that happen to the best of us.

There are thousands of installers in this industry but only a select few technicians. You cannot tell a technician by simply looking at all of the patches on his uniform, nor can you determine an installer by the lack of patches on his jacket. I can tell a technician from an installer by how they deal with a critique. If I confront an auto glass installer with a safety problem I observed, more often than not they will respond with this statement, “I never had a problem with that.”  This is an installer response because if he had a problem with that, the customer is dead or crippled and he is not there talking to me because he would not have a career in auto glass. The technician’s response will be, “Really? How can I correct that?” This is usually followed by guilt and concern. I even had one customer that went back and redid several installations he knew he did wrong. That is a technician.