Tips on Competing from a Judge

I am frequently asked about the Auto Glass Olympic competition, “Do you have any tips that can put me over the top?” Winners are those that compete the same way as they install every day. The enemy of every competitor is nervousness and that is completely understandable considering the venue. I think that is why most winners come from past losers. The nervousness subsides a little and they realize that it is no different than doing a job in front of the car owner. It is true that the judges are more knowledgeable than the average consumer, but the competitors are good and they know what they’re doing. However, even the best of us, under pressure, can make mistakes.

That being said, here are some tips that may help.

—Ask questions during the mandatory orientation meeting.

—Concentrate on the important points and don’t worry about the minor ones. We mark off big for mistakes related to consumer or technician safety and vehicle protection.

—Make sure you know the bonding procedures for your adhesives backward, forward and inside out.

—Keep contamination always on your mind.

—Keep track of drying times for your primers. However, don’t lose time waiting for primed areas where it doesn’t matter. If the scratch is outside the bonding area, then waiting for it to dry is unnecessary.

—Use only lubricants recommended by your adhesive company. Water is always best.

—Wipe off debris and standing excess water/lubricant as soon as possible. Urethane can absorb moisture and hinder bonding if it is not allowed to dry thoroughly.

—Dampen towels and never wet a surface to clean it. See above.

—Look very carefully for scratches on the pinchweld. We do not mark down for scratched paint but we do mark down if the scratches aren’t covered.

—One should never stand around doing nothing. If a mistake is made and you have to go back to correct it, do something else while waiting.

Sometimes the obvious is the best course of action. Jeff Olive won his first competition because he did the obvious and everyone else thought they had to do the most difficult.

Remove or displace the interior garnish moldings unless the molding clips are a “one-use-only” type. However, we will take into consideration the tools used and the mastery of those tools.

Do not use tools you are unfamiliar with or haven’t mastered. If you struggle with a tool or you seem uneasy, a judge will mark down for lack of tool mastery.

Don’t waste time in the pre-inspection. Build a relationship with the proctor, but don’t forget that the vehicle is usually brand new. A thorough pre-inspection should not take more than 5-10 minutes max, less if possible.

Don’t forget the paperwork and handouts.

The biggest advice I can give is to relax and do the job. If during the competition you fall short, don’t give up. There is no shame in not winning. Learn from your mistakes and just have fun.