Paul, you have a wealth of experience and knowledge in the automotive glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry. I appreciate your taking the time to talk with me today.
I know that you got your start in the industry in 1979 by joining PPG Industries as a management trainee and over the course of your time there you became a branch manager for them in Greenville, South Carolina. What sparked your initial interest in the AGRR industry?
I liked the idea. Everyone who owned a car was a potential customer. I also liked working directly with customers. It was a good fit with my personality.
You left PPG in 1986 to open Coastal Glass Distributors in Charleston, South Carolina. Do you mind sharing the reason why you left PPG?
I loved working with PPG and they taught me so much, but I saw an opportunity to open a glass distribution business in Charleston. The market seemed underserved to me.
So you saw a great opportunity to open a wholesale business to fill a need in the marketplace and Coastal Glass proved to be a success. That’s great, but what caused you to decide to exit a successful wholesale business that had grown quickly in the market and move into retail?
The auto glass business was changing and a number of our retail customers were being purchased by large retailers.
I realized that you couldn’t serve two masters.
So after starting Glasspro in 1995 and turning your focus solely on the retail side of the AGRR industry what did you learn about the differences between the wholesale and retail business and especially when it came to serving the needs of your customers?
The insurance industry paid better than contractors did. But more importantly, I felt insurance customers valued service and quality more than a lot of glazing contractors did.
So how long did it take you to open additional stores in the South Carolina market?
We opened our second location in 1995.
Knowing you and understanding that ensuring that each and every customer you do work has the absolute best experience and is “delighted” with that experience, as I’ve heard you say, and service they receive from Glasspro, what suggestions or ideas can you offer to the readers of this blog on how to achieve that with their customers?
It is a total commitment from all of our people to recognize that it is a one job at a time business.
What were some of the challenges you faced in finding and then keeping the best people to make sure your customers are always delighted with Glasspro?
We hire “nice,” and we use a personality profile assessment on every potential new hire. We want to make sure it is a good fit for all parties concerned.
Is it difficult in a market like South Carolina to sell people on windshield repairs?
We spend a lot of time, energy and training on explaining the benefits of a repair.
Do you provide any non AGRR services for customers at Glasspro?
No, auto glass is all that we do.
You and Glasspro are and have been leaders in the AGRR industry for quite some time. In the past 8 years you’ve had 4 of your auto glass technicians win the Auto Glass Olympics in the United States and 1 who won the world title. That is truly an amazing feat for one AGRR company to have achieved and I’m sure you’re quite proud of those who have competed in and those who have won these events. What drives your auto glass technicians to not only excel in what they do for your customers in South Carolina, but to work so hard to become Auto Glass Olympic winners?
We have been fortunate again in hiring the right people who are committed to striving for excellence, each and every day.
For other companies in the AGRR industry that would like to compete and have the success that you’re auto glass technicians have had in excelling in these events, what advice do you offer them?
Train to the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard® (AGRSS®) and then install with it on each and every windshield.
As a strong supporter of the AGRSS® standard and the goals of the Auto Glass Safety Council, Inc. what advice would you offer to other AGRR companies about joining the safety organization, following the ANSI standard and opening the doors of Glasspro to third party auditors to validate to your customers that you provide the safest installations possible?
I believe it is good for your customers and sends a message to your employees that providing safety is the most important thing that we do.
What advice can you offer on how you successfully compete against a national player in the market place?
We respect all of our competitors, but we also take great pride in striving to deliver excellence and value to our customers.
I know that you may be uncomfortable about talking about some of the things you and Glasspro do to help those in need in your markets, but you’re a big supporter of your community and I commend you for your the efforts. You have developed a program called “3 Degree Guarantee” to help many in your community and the coastal area of South Carolina with special needs. Could you tell us a little about what you and your company accomplishes with “3 Degree Guarantee”?
It helps us bring awareness to many non profits as well as give them funds. This allows them to serve our local community.
I’m very proud that Glasspro is one of the co-branded partners of Windshield Centers. As a locally owned and operated AGRR business that has found great success in the markets you serve, what attracted you to becoming a part of Windshield Centers?
Windshield Centers is customer focused and committed to delivering excellence just like Glasspro strives to be. There were many things that I found attractive about Windshield Centers, but two in particular stood out. First, Windshield Centers is using advanced technology which provides a quick response to customers’ needs in a way that really keeps a customer in the loop. Secondly, they have created a Windshield Centers “Centers of Excellence”, which focuses on an environment that fosters continuous improvement for its members. These two advancements are just a few of the things which I believe help us bring value to our insurance partners.
Is there anything else you’d like to talk about with the readers of this blog?
I believe we are entering a special time in our industry and I am confident the future is bright for the committed independent auto glass company.
Well thank you very much Paul for taking the time to talk with me about Glasspro and the success that you’ve achieved and also passing along how positive you are for the future opportunities that exist in the AGRR industry. I’ve had the fortune to spend time with you and your team and it is quite obvious why you and your company have enjoyed such great success. There are always opportunities in the market place for those who desire excellence for their company and the people that work with them to achieve that success. I wish you and your organization the best in 2013 and the years to come.