by Bob Beranek
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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.

Next week I will be heading for the winter committee meetings of the Auto Glass Safety Council™ (AGSC). This year it will be held in Orlando, Fla., where the warm and sunny weather will be greatly appreciated. Although I rarely have time to get out and enjoy the climate, it is still nice to be away from frigid Wisconsin for a short while.

My duties in Orlando will be three fold: attending the Education Committee meeting, conducting the Standards Committee meeting and joining with other board members in discussing the issues of our industry.

I have been a member of the education/certification committees with first the National Glass Association, then the Independent Glass Association and now with the AGSC for a combined total of almost 30 years. The work that goes into these committees is rewarding but not easy. Our main function is to write and edit test questions. The rules seem simple but can be quite complicated to put into practice. The test questions must be:

  • Multiple choice, with one correct answer and three plausible but “absolutely incorrect” distracters;
  • Answers should not contain “all of the above” or “none of the above;”
  • Written in “active” voice; and
  • Written in a positive, not negative style. For example “Which is not the right answer?” would be a rejected test question.

Let’s say that you followed all of the above guidelines religiously and wrote several good questions. You spent hours finding, researching and cataloging references. Your questions are then put up on a screen and opened to comments from a panel of industry experts. Frequently the original question is almost unrecognizable when finished, and the writer better have thick skin and flawless facts.

However, the rewards of this process are that we get a better industry. When we have educated, trained and skilled technicians, we have an industry for which we can be proud. When you see an “AGSC Qualified or Certified Technician,” make sure you recognize their accomplishments and give them the kudos they deserve.

The Standards Committee, of which I am proud to be the chair, will be handling the important issue of Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS). We will be hearing from our subcommittee on this issue and hopefully have enough information to come up with a guideline or directive that our industry can buy into.

This is an industry challenge that has been keeping many people up at night, including me. I get calls daily from clients and shop owners who ask what to do. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. I trust that our committee, with all of the great minds that populate it, will come up with answers that we can all live with.

The board of directors for the AGSC finishes out the meetings with one of their own. We usually review our previously set goals and discuss the actions of the various committee meetings from the week. We will set an agenda for the upcoming year and offer suggestions for the seminars and speakers for this year’s Auto Glass Week™ in San Antonio this October 5-7.

Though this annual meeting is a lot of work, it is a chance to see friends, share ideas and make contacts that may not be possible any other way. Do you want to get involved? Just ask. All of our committees are openly asking for fresh faces and bright new ideas. So be a good industry citizen. It will pay off, for your business and for the industry.

The last of the changes to the ANSI/AGSC/AGRSS™ Standard 003-2015 is, in my opinion, the most important. Without education and training a technician doesn’t know how to do the job right and will be unable to follow a standard that doesn’t make sense to him.

Educating the industry is what I have dedicated the latter half of my career to doing. An educated workforce produces a safe, productive, professional and quality installation. The two changes to the ANSI/AGSC/AGRSS™ Standard 003-2015 in this section are minor. There is also an addition that I feel is important to the success of the operation.

Old:

Technicians installing replacement automotive glass shall be fully qualified for the tasks they are required to perform. Such qualifications shall include, at a minimum, completion of a comprehensive training program with a final exam and a continuing education component. The program shall include, among other things:

  1. a) AGR safety issues;
  2. b) An understanding of OEM installation standards and procedures;
  3. c) Relevant technical specifications;
  4. d) Comprehensive retention system specific training; and
  5. e) The opportunity to apply and demonstrate the skills technicians learn.

New:

9.1 Technicians installing replacement automotive glass shall be fully qualified for the tasks they are required to perform. Such qualifications shall include, at a minimum, completion of a comprehensive training program with a final exam and an ongoing education component. The program shall include, among other things:

  1. a) AGR safety issues;
  2. b) An understanding of OEM installation standards and procedures;
  3. c) Relevant technical specifications;
  4. d) Adhesive system manufacturer specific comprehensive retention system training; and
  5. e) The opportunity to apply and demonstrate the skills technicians learn.

The changes to this portion of section 9 are simple. The first change simply adds a continuing education component to the training. Training cannot be given and then be allowed to stagnate. The word “ongoing” signifies the need for continuing training in the field of automotive glass installation to keep up with new vehicles, regulations and procedures.

The second change serves to address language regarding adhesive manufacturer training programs. Adhesive system manufacturers have the in-depth knowledge of how and why their sealants work. Technicians are now required to follow the guidelines for use of each specific adhesive they use, not just apply the guidelines they may use for one sealant to all.

The addition to section 9 of the standard is an important subject that must be addressed. Many times during my experience as a trainer, I have found that after I train the technicians in the proper procedures of automotive glass installation, they are confronted by co-workers and even managers that either do not understand the directives taught or refuse to change for some reason or another. For that reason we included 9.2 of the standard.

9.2 Training with respect to the content and requirements of the current version of this standard shall be required for all personnel directly involved in the automotive glass replacement process (examples: scheduling, purchasing, installing, customer service, quality control, management). Records of this training detailing content, date, participants and acknowledgement of the participant’s successful completion of the training and receipt of a printed copy of the current standard shall be maintained.

It says that any other employees that are responsible for scheduling, supplying or managing the act of installation must be trained on the part of the standard that pertains to their job. An example might be the job of customer service representative (CSR). The CSR must be aware of items that will directly influence the safety of the customer. Some of the normal every day duties of a CSR are directly related to standard compliance, such as:

  • Informing the customer of Safe-Drive-Away Times (SDAT);
  • Scheduling so the technician will have time to install and allow operation of the vehicle safely; and
  • In some cases, depending on the job description:
    • Document and keep files to demonstrate compliance to the standard for customer records, retention system files, educational files, etc.; and
    • Order the proper glass, retention systems and other supplies.

Most glass companies are doing this now, and we were very careful not to make this additional training too much of a burden. However, we did want it to be significant enough to be pertinent. We wanted to make it traceable and auditable for our companies that choose to be registered member companies of the Auto Glass Safety Council. These past weeks I have converted the new changes into easy to understand language that all can understand and follow. I hope you have found these explanations valuable and that you have implemented the changes in your company and daily installations.

The training can be as simple as providing a copy of the standard to an employee and answering any questions they may have concerning their job and their importance to the finished installation. If you then keep track of the training and document proof of compliance you will meet the standard.