Distribution Dilemmas

A couple of years ago I explained the history behind the (often repeated) statement that 70 percent of the automotive glass installed in the country was done wrong. Recently, I gave a training course in Baton Rouge, La., that gave me some more insight on this problem.

At the company where I was training, I was surprised at the difficulty we had in finding a fast-curing urethane to use and recommend. I understand that distributors and retailers must stock what they can sell. If a product sits on their shelves and does not sell, especially those that have a shelf life, those products must be reconsidered for restocking. If it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t deserve the shelf space. However, what I found was a real eye-opener.

Keeping that retail rule in mind, two distributors in the Baton Rouge area only carried one product and it was a seven-hour safe-drive-away-time (SDAT) urethane. There were no other options available. Also, they didn’t have any primers in stock because the urethane they sell is primerless. Are you kidding me? Does that mean that in the Baton Rouge area that there are no automotive glass shops that offer one-hour SDAT service? My client told me that it is more likely that they use the cheaper, slow curing urethane and then tell their customer to go ahead and drive it in an hour anyway.

Now, couple that with the condition of the vehicles we did in conjunction with our training and it all starts to make sense. We did a total of eight windshields and one back glass during the hands-on portion of the training. Of the windshields we completed, all (but one) were previously installed by local shops. Of the seven, three were corroded to the point of having to undergo a corrosion treatment procedure. Four had gaps in the urethane bead at various points that leaked badly. Which brings me to the “70 percent done wrong” issue.

I believe that the 70 percent issue is not a national phenomenon but a regional one. In areas where training isn’t seen as a priority we have poorly trained installers and thus, the more sparsely stocked distributors, because no one is requesting the materials needed. In some other areas of the country we have very well-trained technicians and well-stocked distributors.

So, I must add to the quotes indicating that 70 percent of the installations done in America are done wrong, with a new non-scientific, non-official survey. I now believe that most of the poor installations in various high population areas of the country are due to poorly trained installers and poorly stocked distributors. When they go to the distributor and only one urethane is available, will most people demand the product they need, or will they just take the product that is “in stock”, perpetuating the glut of bad installations in the area?

What is my recommendation to those located in these areas of questionable installations? Seek knowledge through training and research. If your distributor only carries one urethane product or one quality level of glass products, you may be in one of these islands of poorly trained service providers, but a distributor will order products for you if you ask. Don’t miss the opportunity to gain control of your market. Simply do the job right, and explain to your customers what that means to the safety of their families. Customers will be knocking down your door.