Christmas is coming and the New Year is right around the corner. This is always my favorite time of the year because I have a chance to reflect on the past year and make plans for the new one.
This past year saw some interesting changes to our industry that, for better or worse, we have to address in the future:
- We have seen the advent of the aluminum automobile as a metal of the future. With the arrival of the new 2015 Ford F150, aluminum is going to be used on many more vehicles and we will have to deal with the proper bonding of glass to that metal.
- The expansion of driver assist systems like Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Systems, Automatic Braking Systems and Blind Side Warning Systems may either make dealership interactions with glass shops become commonplace or force us to delve into add-on services, like re-calibration, that can be quite costly to begin and maintain.
- Original equipment is not as dependable as it used to be. We have seen robots leave inches of adhesive missing from the application, paint delaminating on several different vehicle brands, primers pealing from OE-primed glass parts, and parts that exist but are not listed as existing.
- The move by vehicle manufacturers to recommend OEM glass for replacement to assure proper operation of value-added and safety features on an automobile may require us to use OEM glass whether we want to or not.
We can never accurately predict the future but we can plan for it. What does the future hold for the automotive glass replacement industry?
- It is going to demand that we be more vigilant in our observations and actions regarding safe and proper replacement.
- It will require us to make better friends and business partners with our local dealerships. They will become our business partners or they could grow to become our most challenging competitor.
- It may require the investment in new tools, new technology and training to be competitive in our particular markets.
- It may take political action or cooperation with our competitors to fight for our right to do business and not be phased out or made obsolete.
In the many years that I have been in this industry, I have seen consistently how glass shops respond to adversity and become stronger for the experience. This past year and the next one is no different than the years before and the years to come. Challenges arise, technology changes and obstacles get in the way but the ARRG industry always shines in the end.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Holidays to you and yours.