by Bob Beranek

While I wrote this post, my wife Ann was busy making sure that we had everything packed for this week’s trip to Reno, Nev., for the Auto Glass Week™ festivities. When we went to our first national trade show we had no idea the things we were going to learn and see. We knew it was going to be an interesting adventure but we didn’t know the new ideas we were going to discuss and the friends we were going to make.

This year’s event will be no different than the first one we attended. There will be new friends to meet and old friends to share stories and experiences with. There will be new products to explore and new ideas to debate and put to work.

One of the things that I am looking forward to are the seminars and meetings that discuss and decide the future of our industry and how our businesses will have to change to make the most of the new coming trends. Technology is the future and we have to address it, whether we like to or not. I am honored to be part of a panel of experts in a series of seminars addressing, “How Vehicle Technology is Changing Your Business.” Mitch Becker from Abra Auto Body and Glass and Gerry Parij from Saint Gobain-Sekurit join me in presenting the second part of the technology series. The new Advanced Driver Assist Systems and other autonomous systems have been in our industry news for months now and will not go away. So, this series will be very interesting and educational.

Debra Levy from Key communications hit one out of the park in landing one of the most sought-after businessmen in the country, Jack Welch, as a speaker this year. Mr. Welch is one keynote speaker that should not be missed. He alone is worth the price of admission.

Well, I have to make this post short because Ann and I have a lot to do before getting on the plane. We hope to see you there.

New technology was a subject dominating Auto Glass Week 2014™, especially lane departure systems and items needing re-calibration or initialization. I have addressed this topic in the past, but at the show we had experts from many fields giving their viewpoints at seminars and committee meetings.

It all started the first day in the Auto Glass Safety Council’s Standard Committee meeting. Mitch Becker of ABRA Auto Body & Glass presented a proposal to add a new directive to the standard addressing driver-assisted systems such as lane departure, automatic braking systems and intuitive cruise control. The committee debated the suggestion for most of our scheduled time. It is such a complex issue that we decided to form a sub-committee to study the ramifications and present a proposal for the full committee’s consideration.

Those who read my blog regularly may not be surprised that the discussions were centered on the issue of whether these systems were safety devices or performance features. One presenter said they were not safety devices because they are controlled by the driver, thus making them an option. Other presenters claimed that the marketing of these devices emphasize “added safety” so they must be considered a safety item. There were also a number of spirited conversations during presentations and cocktail parties concerning when and if the devices need calibration and how to go about it.

My take on the issue has not changed. Whether a driver-assisted system is called a safety device or not, if it comes to litigation, you are better safe than sorry. If an automotive glass shop or a dealer fails to reset, recalibrate or re-initialize a system, they will be called into court to explain why they didn’t. The judge and/or a jury will not care what the vehicle manufacturer calls it when a disabled victim is wheeled into the courtroom.

When do you re-calibrate? I think it comes down to common sense and what the vehicle manufacturer recommends. If the driver-assisted systems are attached or in close proximity to the automotive glass in the vehicle, it is wise to have it re-calibrated by a certified shop. If the vehicle manufacturer recommends re-calibration after glass replacement, it is your responsibility to make that happen.

My recommendation is to personally make an appointment with a certified dealer or shop for your customer. Then notify the two parties verbally and in writing of the details and hand the responsibility of recalibration to them to complete. Doing it this way you have greatly reduced your liability exposure.

Whether we like it or not, driver-assisted systems are not going away. On the contrary, they will be increasing and be more sophisticated. We will have to oversee and document the steps we make to keep these systems operable, or we will have to add system recalibration to our list of services. The Auto Glass Safety Council™ met with I-Car at the show and they promised to work with us on this issue as well. Look for some new announcements in future months.

My wife and I just returned home from the 2013 Auto Glass Week™ in Tampa, Fla., and I must say that the experience was well worth the trip. I am so busy there that it can be difficult to find the time to see and share experiences with everyone I would like to visit. However, I did meet some new friends and touched base with many of my old ones.

This year again, I attended Auto Glass Safety Council™ meetings, gave seminars on Quality, Safety and Technician Training, judged the Auto Glass Technician Olympics and attended the trade show and events before, during and after the official start and end dates of the show. This work was made worthwhile by good times and renewed friendships.

Those of you that miss the national show are really doing yourself a disservice. Auto Glass Week is an event that should not be missed. If you want to be a successful business, if you want to be on the cutting edge of your industry, if you want to be informed of the newest and best products, services and tools, and if you want to be inspired and rejuvenated then this is the event you must insert into your calendar and budget.

Where else can you see, feel, smell and touch a tool or product before buying? Where else can you rub elbows with successful business owners world wide and get their ideas and stories of success?  Where else can you see the best of the best technicians perform in auto glass repair, tinting and replacement? Where else can you get professional help and information for the price of admission? And lastly, where else can you voice your concerns and ideas to the industry leaders that can get things done?

I hear and read complaints, concerns and topical issues every day in forums, articles and phone calls to my office. Many times unfortunately, not much can be done quickly and efficiently to solve these problems. Auto Glass Week gives us a “soapbox” on which to stand and voice our issues loudly and for all to hear. Why wouldn’t all of you come to be heard?

Auto Glass Week is scheduled in September for a reason. It can’t be held in the summer, it’s too busy. It can’t be held in early winter, too many holidays. It can’t be late winter; taxes are due and it’s too late to plan the year. It can’t be spring because we have to get ready for the summer rush. So, the dates are set after the Northern states’ busy season and before the next year’s budget planning. They are set at the end of the vacation season and the beginning of the school year to give you a reward for a year of hard work. It is set in early fall to take advantage of beautiful weather and affordable prices, just at the beginning of the resort’s off-season. The dates are set to coincide with the traditional automotive new-model introductions to spur discussion of what is to come. It is set during the week so those that wish to be home for the weekend can be but those that wish to make it part of a vacation can do that as well.

Yes, it can be expensive to attend some of these shows if you stay at the headquarters’ hotel and eat and drink on premises. If cost is an issue for you there are things you can do. Stay at less expensive nearby hotels. Eat at Joe’s Diner, McDonalds and the wings at the nearby sports bar. No one says you have to partake in the expensive environments unless you want to. Drive instead of fly and make it a road trip. Stop at the local supermarket instead of the expensive restaurants. The national trade show can be an experience that can be had on a budget if necessary but it should not be missed because of cost.

Auto Glass Week is the venue where professionals come to be successful. I urge you all to consider and budget for next year’s event. You will not be sorry.