by Bob Beranek
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The American Dictionaries define citizen as: 1) A legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth, either native or naturalized and 2) an inhabitant of a particular town or city.

My definition of a “good” citizen is one who participates actively in the common good of the town, city, state or commonwealth. They promote their membership in the community and eagerly work for the betterment of everyone.

Are we good citizens of the automotive glass replacement community? Do we participate? Do we promote our membership? Lastly, do we work to make it better?

This coming week is our industry’s annual national trade show, Auto Glass Week™ 2014, where our industry meets, shares ideas and learns new things. It is where we compete for excellence, meet old and new friends, discuss our challenges and hopefully find answers.

I have been going to the annual shows for many years and I consistently don’t see as much participation as I expect. I have heard the reasons expressed for not going to the show. You have to make money; you cannot leave your business for a week and can’t afford the trip financially. Are these legitimate reasons or excuses?

Your shop will make money while you are away; they do when you’re gone for other reasons. If you are the only employee, then plan a few days as continuing training and schedule your work around the trip. You don’t have to go for a week. A few days will give you the ability to make contacts and learn a few new things. Do you think it’s too expensive? Business trips are tax deductible. The shows are usually at interesting locations. Schedule your vacation around the trade show and bring your family for some affordable fun.

According to the last census, there are about 16,000 automotive glass or related shops in the United States with about 172,000 automotive glass technicians that produce the replacements. Our trade show generates about 500 attendees. However, each year I see few technicians beyond those competing in the Auto Glass Repair and Replacement Olympics. Where are the local technicians? Why don’t local owners encourage their employees to attend and/or compete?

A trade show that is well attended benefits us all. The attendees get to see all of the supporting products and services on display, vendors have a chance to talk to their customers and build new ones, everyone can attend informational seminars and training courses and we all share in the knowledge gained from talking to each other.

President Kennedy’s famous quote, “… Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” rings true to our industry as well. We need to be good citizens of our industry through attendance at industry events, financially through membership to organizations and actively through volunteering for industry committees and initiatives. If you want to be a success personally, your industry must be successful. I encourage everyone to be a good citizen and participate.