by Bob Beranek
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We just returned from Auto Glass Week in San Antonio, and as always, it was an eventful week.

I am a member of the Education Committee, a Board member of the Auto Glass Safety Council, and the chairperson of the Standard Committee. Each had their meetings with an agenda filled with important work to be done and issues to be discussed and solved. In the next few posts I plan to keep those who were unable to make the trip to Texas updated on what occurred in the areas I was involved.

The Education committee, headed up by chairperson Jeff Olive and populated by the best technicians, trainers and experts in the industry, worked on cleaning up past submitted questions for the Certification Exam and writing new ones. The Education Committee keeps the question database current and makes sure questions are psychometrically correct. We are also charged with oversight of the continuing education programs and the certification program in general. Our goal is to have 1,000 questions in the database that can be interchanged easily to make our exam unique every time it is taken. Much was accomplished and we still managed to have some fun.

The AGSC Board meeting is a crucial meeting where decisions are made. Last week, we discussed the progress of all the committees. We reviewed and critiqued videos, promotional brochures and committee work submitted for approval. We discussed fundraising ideas and received financial reports for consideration and adjustment. I always enjoy the planning of our next meetings and trade show, in this case Auto Glass Week 2017. The dates are almost set, but the location is not yet secured. Look to Glassbytes and AGRR magazine for the announcements and details.

The Standards Committee had a goal to compose and finalize the language addressing the Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) prevalent in our industry. At last count, we have 41 members in our committee, not including alternates and visitors. Everyone shared the valuable information they collected since our last meeting and came with ideas for moving the industry forward. Like the professionals they are, after some heated debate, the committee agreed to language we could accept.  The proposed language is as follows:

We proposed 4.2 to the Vehicle Assessment section:

4.2 The vehicle has an ADAS system or related device which could require recalibration after any automotive glass replacement, and the technician chooses not to follow the guidelines in 8.9. The owner/operator then shall be so notified.

Under Additional Requirements, we proposed the following:

8.9 The vehicle has an ADAS system or related device which may require recalibration after any automotive glass replacement. Those engaged in automotive glass replacement shall have documented procedures to either recalibrate, sublet recalibration, or shall advise the owner/operator verbally and in a clearly understandable document, countersigned by the owner/operator, that:

(1) The vehicle has an ADAS system or related device;

(2) After automotive glass replacement, vehicle manufacturers may require the recalibration of the ADAS system or related device;

(3) The replacement glass technician will not recalibrate that ADAS system or related device;

(4) There are locations where recalibration may be obtained; and that the replacement glass installer is not responsible for the selection of any recalibration location.

Documentation of customer notifications shall be kept as records.

Please understand that these changes are proposals and not part of the official standard at this point.  Once the changes are approved by the AGSC and sent to ANSI for inclusion, they will be published and made official.

The language above was designed to give our industry a choice in how we run our business and some industry support to back us up. Once this language is given to our attorney for legal acceptance, it is sent to ANSI for their procedural steps of acceptance. After that, the language becomes part of the standard.  Obviously, we do not know how ADAS will evolve. It could become more complex and intricate, or could go the way of Cadillac and GM to become self-calibrating. However, our industry must be proactive and not reactive when it comes to this technology because it is only going to grow.

Next week I will give you the high points of the events and the new products introduced.

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.

I have been in contact with two different glass shop owners recently who both asked me the same two-part question. Why are there so many bad automotive glass shops and technicians in our industry and how can we stop their dangerous and callous actions?

Both of these gentlemen belong to Auto Glass Safety Council™ (AGSC) Registered Member Companies and practice safe and proper installations. I can understand their frustration. They do everything right but find that time and again customers are choosing to do business with competitors whose standards are not nearly as high. What is there to do?

One owner took his frustration to his state government for help. He cited the recent actions of the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island which licensed technicians and shops. Both states made the effort to assure safe automotive glass installations because they realize the windshield and other stationary glass parts are a part of the structural integrity of the vehicle and improper installation would compromise the safety of their constituents.

Initially, this owner’s state of Michigan doesn’t see it that way. (Currently they may be more concerned with water quality than glass installation quality.) However, through perseverance and strong effort, the owner got his state representative to take a closer look. We don’t know what the results will be but at least owner one made the effort and made his point.

Owner number two complained that local competition passed their compliance audit through AGSC but promptly returned to the high production and lax quality issues as soon as the evaluator left the building. He suggested that audits be unannounced to truly measure installation quality. He wondered how these shops can get away with it.

As a trainer who has seen thousands of prior installations, I completely understand the frustrations these two owners are experiencing. The AGSC does have an Accreditation Committee that will investigate Registered Member Companies that fail to practice the guidelines published in the ANSI/AGSC/AGRSS™ 003-2015. The committee can remove noncompliant companies from their membership. However, there is no mechanism to discipline them in other ways, and of course the AGSC cannot discipline non-registered companies. They are not and cannot be the installation police.

The answer then is to take our case to the government, or the consumer, or both. The government can enforce compliance through rules and regulations. The educated consumer can punish bad actors through not buying their defective products or services. Either way, it will take the concerted effort of the members of the industry to do the legwork and spend the money to provide the education necessary to move the dialogue.

My only advice as an automotive glass installer and business owner is to continue on and not give up. Join the AGSC and get active on a committee. Find likeminded owners in and around your market and organize. Numbers equal power, and the more voices there are, the better they are heard. Whether through government involvement or consumer awareness, our only answers are with the shops and individuals out there that do it right and are proud of it. We can move mountains if we work at it together.