Posts Tagged Pilkington

Help Wanted: Writer Wanted for Social Media Conversation Page on Auto Glass Repair & Replacement

Hashtags

 

An interesting email hit my inbox on Monday from a company representing Service AutoGlass, a part of Safelite Group, Inc. The email came from Fun Online Corporation which is headquartered in New York, New York. Mike Schoenback  (and his partner Ron Luks) sent the email and it started with,

“Hi David,

I came across your contact information through Glassbytes.com.  Our company (Fun Online Corp) is working with Service AutoGlass®, a national provider of wholesale vehicle glass products and installation materials, to launch a social media conversation page in the fall of 2014.”

So the wholesale division of Safelite wants to interact with its customers via social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, along with numerous other social media sites? The email went on to say,

“We are interested in connecting with a person with good writing skills who has technical experience with auto glass repair and replacement and a familiarity with the industry. We are looking to hire such a person on an ongoing (freelance) basis to respond to posts on the social media page and work with us to develop conversation starters. Experience as a blogger is a big plus. This is a paid position.”

I guess I tick a couple of the boxes they’re looking for. I’ve spent my career in the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry, I am on some social media sites so I’m familiar with how those work and I blog. Even though it looks like the opportunity is being “outsourced” to Fun Online, the fact that it is a paid position is also great to know. The email ended with,

“I’m writing to see if you may be interested or if you have a colleague who may be interested in this opportunity.  We’re happy to have a phone or email conversation if you’d like more information about this.

Thanks very much!

Mike Schoenbach

Ron Luks”

Their email didn’t mention Safelite, just Service AutoGlass. I replied to let them know that I really appreciated the email letting me know about the opportunity, but I didn’t think I would be an appropriate person for the role they were looking at for a variety of reasons and I guess they didn’t look at some of my blog posts. I replied to Mr. Schoenback explaining that I was pretty sure that Safelite wouldn’t want me to fill the role even if I was interested. That being said I was once a part of Safelite filling a number of positions in the mid to late 1980’s leaving as the regional vice president of New England in late 1989; so I do have some familiarity with the company. I just didn’t think I’d be a good person to help “develop conversation starters” for them at this point in time. I’m sure that I could come up with a few “conversation starters” though. Here are some possibilities:

“If an auto glass replacement somehow slips through the hands of Safelite and you’re lucky enough that the opportunity comes to your company would you consider giving us a call so that we could sell you the part?”

“Here at Service AutoGlass we’re your all-in-one source for products and service, even if Safelite is spending countless millions on television and radio ads and is your biggest competitor. Come on…..give us a call. Won’t you?”

“We know that Pilkington, PGW, Mygrant and other wholesale distributors aren’t in the retail AGRR space installing auto glass in competition with you, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving us a call should it?”

I’m sure that you can come up with a few of your own. I asked a friend in the industry for a social media conversation starter for them and he suggested,

“They say you get what you pay for…. What did you get from us?”

I wished Fun Online success in finding someone to fill the social media role for Safelite…  er’ I meant Service AutoGlass. I found out that they sent the same email to a few other people in the AGRR industry as well. Imagine my disappointment hearing that. Perhaps they contacted you to see if you were interested? If not and you’re interested in the freelance position you can contact Mike and Ron to find out more. The Fun Online web site states:

“At Fun Online Corp. we’re your eyes and ears during business hours, evenings, weekends and holidays. A round-the-clock business infrastructure is expensive and can be a logistical nightmare. We can create a social media team or expand your current team and save you money. You’ll have 100 percent full coverage.”

It seems like a great opportunity.

Just sayin’.

 

 

* Cartoon courtesy of TomFishburne.com/Cartoons

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments

Just Sayin Blog – Be Smart In 2012

There have certainly been a number of events happening since the first of the year that are effecting or may affect the auto glass repair and replacement (AGRR) industry in 2012. Where to start? Well let’s see:

 

1.    First the earth shook on January 2, 2012, when Safelite® Solutions officially took over the responsibilities for administrating Allstate® Insurance auto glass claims from PGW Lynxservices®. By all accounts Safelite® Solutions must be doing a masterful job in this new role administering claims for Allstate® as I’ve heard from a number of you that your auto glass claims from the second largest insurer in the United States are dramatically lower since the administrator change took place. Mild weather could also be a contributing factor. Adding to the pain of lost units, the pricing for those Allstate® replacements are also lower.

 

Have you seen your auto glass claims with Allstate decline since January 2, 2012?

 

2.    On January 6, 2012, glassBYTEs.com™ reported that Grey Mountain Partners Acquires Binswanger. Binswanger is a truly amazing full-service glass company with its roots going back to 1872 with its first location in Richmond, Virginia. It is certainly great news to hear for all of the Binswanger employees that they have a new owner who is interested in working with them to help build the company. I think that a strong Binswanger is healthy for the glass industry in the United States.

 

How about you?

 

3.    Neil Duffy recently announced in his very well written blog View From The Trenches that he’s considering a new career by starting a ‘new third-party glass claims administrator’. It sounds as though he’s thought it out pretty thoroughly by looking at all the pros of this new venture and I for one think he should go for it. I don’t see any cons.

 

What do you think?

 

4.    Then there is that anonymous letter from a ‘Concerned Citizen’ that surfaced yet again last week titled “New Anti-Trust Concerns”. This letter had a postmark from Bloomington, Illinois, and its resurfacing at this time might have some relationship to #1 above.

 

It does seem pretty obvious that the letter was written by someone in the auto glass industry as no one else would really care about the issue. The letter does raise a number of interesting points, but the conclusion of the ‘Concerned Citizen’ is that:

 

‘While the relationship between a TPA and its insurance company clients may not be illegal, the abuse of that position could be unfairly excluding independent competitors.’

 

There are a number AGRR initiatives taking place in various states where attempts are being made to try to restrict the big guy from taking your lunch money day in and day out. If one of them was successful it would certainly be good for independents in the industry.

 

Are there any legislative initiatives happening in your state that will be of any help to you in your business?

 

5.    For those of you who happen to follow @Safelite on Twitter you may have seen them sending out ‘Tweets’ asking for your input. One ‘Tweet’ poses a question to its followers and directs you to a web page survey question asking ‘How likely are you to recommend Safelite?’ Safelite® gives you the opportunity to answer with a ‘Not Likely’ – 0 score to an ‘Extremely Likely’ – 10 score.

 

I’m not sure to whom exactly Safelite® is targeting the question, but you’ve got to provide an email address in order to answer the question which is somewhat problematical. If you’d like to offer your view anonymously I guess you could use a fake email address.

 

I know what my number is in answer to the question. What number would you mark as your answer?

 

6.    And finally there was an article in the Chicago Tribune on January 18, 2012, reporting that the average age of vehicles in the United States has climbed to 10.8 years. The article stated that in 2010 the average age of vehicles was 10.6 years with the average age of vehicles having climbed steadily since 1995 when it was at 8.5 years. Over the past several years low new vehicle sales has certainly been a major factor in the increase in the average age, but with new car sales picking up new car manufacturers are expecting a great year in 2012. That will help to slow the growth in average age and hopefully bring it down. What does average age have to do with the AGRR industry?

 

One byproduct of an aging vehicle fleet is that you see an increasing number of the ‘do nothings’ (consumers that delay replacements) when auto glass breaks. Consumers obviously will be more accepting of a repair over replacement if the vehicle is older. New vehicles typically provide a higher average invoice value since the only replacement glass initially available to consumers will be auto glass manufactured for the vehicle by the Original Equipment Manufactured (OEM) glass company (i.e. Pilkington-NSG, PGW, Saint-Gobain Sekurit, etc.). The cost for non-OEM manufactures to reverse-engineer a replacement part for new vehicles is initially too expensive due to the low volume of parts needed in the aftermarket. The older the age of the vehicle fleet the more opportunities for non-OEM suppliers to sell reverse engineered replacement parts that are typically cheaper than the OEM’s. Ultimately that can mean less profit for the AGRR industry as a whole. New vehicle sales should mean more profit opportunities for those in the AGRR industry.

 

What do you think?

 

 

I hesitate to mention other things going on so far this year that may have an effect on your business like the lack of a severe winter in the East, the predictions for much higher gasoline prices later this year, a sputtering economy, the price changes that have taken place in the State Farm® Insurance Company auto glass program and various people coming and going from here to there. How you’re dealing with the variety of issues that you’ll face in 2012 will determine how you survive the year. Someone I’ve known for a long time in the industry commented to me last week that, ‘2012 is shaping up to be a watershed year for many in the industry. Survive this year and hope that next year will be a better one.’ That outlook makes sense to me. We’ll see if he’s right.

 

In closing, a former Princeton University men’s basketball coach by the name of Pete Carril wrote a book titled “The Smart Take from the Strong”. It’s a great book. Pete Carril was 5’6” tall, he was an All-State Pennsylvania high school basketball player, an Associated Press Little All-American in college and he coached at Princeton for 29 years before going on to the NBA to become an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings. Coach Carril is also a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. When he was young man his father told him:

 

            ‘The strong take from the weak, but the smart take from the strong.’

 

So be smart in 2012!

 

Just sayin’…….

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments

Q & A with Bill George, Director of Marketing for Pilkington NSG

Today we’re going to be talking with Bill George who is the Director of Marketing for Pilkington NGS.  In that role Bill has many responsibilities including his participation in the developing the North American AGR product range, new model introduction, along with working on product life cycle, part acquisition and Key customer development.  Bill has been with Pilkington NSG since 1997.

First let me thank you for participating in my blog Bill.  I had the pleasure to introduce your session on “Glass Quality” that you participated in at Auto Glass Week 2011 in Memphis last month.  I know that it was one of the best attended sessions and had a lot of very positive feedback on the information that you presented, which is one of the reasons I thought that there would be interest in hearing from you by those who were unable to attend Auto Glass Week.

With your extensive background working at one of the premier O.E.M. auto glass manufacturers in the World, I was wondering how you see the state of auto glass manufacturing in the United States?

Bill George:  I see the state of auto glass manufacturing getting more and more complex in theU.S. marketplace.  All the way from asymmetrical construction to intricate sensor clusters on and in the glass. Just a few years ago the primary value add component on a windshield was a molding.

Are there differences in the manufacturing processes for O.E.M. glass versus aftermarket manufacturers?  Can you help us understand what those differences are?

Bill George:  There are differences not only in the process of how the glass is made, but there are differences in the glass itself, as well as the quality of the value add and how it is applied.  The primary differences manifest themselves in the areas of optical distortion, solar & acoustic specifications, sensor clusters, edge work, and surface control.

How do the different manufacturing processes affect the quality of auto glass?

Bill George:  In many ways, here are two:

  • Glass batch “ingredients”
    • What you add to the glass itself has a great deal to do with its quality and performance.  For example, there is no law requiring generic glass manufacturers to return a consumers windshield back to (or better than) its original solar performance specification, so they tend to leave out these components (less expensive to produce). This can lead to large temperature differences in a vehicle, requiring added air conditioning to keep the vehicle cool and increased Ultra Violet light exposure.
  • Optical distortion
    • In general it is more efficient (and less costly) to increase the flow rate of a furnace. This reduces the cost to manufacture glass and also can reduce the optical quality of the glass. Not meeting an O.E. optical performance specification means greater distortion to a manufacturer and potential eye fatigue, eye strain, and headaches to a consumer.

Pilkington NSG is an O.E.M. manufacturer with plants throughout the World.  In how many countries do you currently manufacture auto glass?

Bill George:  We have primary fabrication facilities at 32 sites in 16 countries around the world with a major presence in Europe,Japan, North America, andSouth America.

In how many of those countries do you manufacture O.E.M. auto glass parts?

Bill George:  All of them.

What O.E.M. car makers does Pilkington manufacture O.E.M auto glass for?

Bill George:  We supply every major vehicle manufacturer in the world.

Is your primary source of auto glass parts that you sell in the United States from Pilkington NSG O.E.M. plants?

Bill George: Yes, for example 97% of our windshields distributed in theU.S. come from a Pilkington plant.

Can you explain the advantages of O.E.M. auto glass versus others available in the marketplace?

Bill George:  Getting this message to the consumer is important, it’s the reason we created the Pilkington Clear Advantage™ program. The advantages in getting glass manufactured to an original specification are many. A few key advantages are:

  • Acoustic attenuation (think – my car is quiet when I drive)
  • Solar Optimized (think – UV blocking & heat reducing)
  • Premium Optics (think – undistorted line of sight across all glass parts)
  • Precise surface control (think – wiper blades removing rain)

Versus

  • Reduced or no acoustic properties (think – now I hear a lot more road, wind, and tire noise)
  • Non-Solar Optimized properties (think – increased heat buildup in your car & needing to use the air conditioner a lot more which leads to added CO2, and reduced gas mileage)
  • Poor optics (think – distortion leading to fatigue, eye strain & headaches)
  • Poor surface control (think – wind noise & wiper blade missing spots)

Do all aftermarket windshields go through the same safety testing and quality control as O.E.M. windshields?

Bill George:  All aftermarket windshields sold in the U.S. are required by law to meet minimum safety standards, but not quality controls.  O.E. quality / performance specifications are much higher than generic glass.

Why should the driving public seek out glass shops that prefer to use O.E.M. glass as their replacement choice for their customers?

Bill George:  With my technical hat on I would iterate the below points.

  • Acoustic attenuation, Solar Optimization (UV & IR), Premium Optics, Precise surface control, Antennas with the same range, Sensors with the same range / effectiveness (critical in vehicles with collision avoidance & brake assist systems), and construction that is built to last.

With my consumer advocate hat on I would say, because it is what they deserve, what they are paying for, and what they believe they are getting.

When shopping for a new windshield, what questions should a consumer ask a glass shop regarding what glass will be installed in their vehicle?

Bill George:  Here is what I would ask:

  • Am I using a reputable installation facility?
  • Am I getting replacement glass with equivalent performance specifications to my original equipment?
    • Will my vehicle perform the same?
    • Am I choosing replacement glass that meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards?
    • Am I getting a value by choosing a less expensive glass?

Thank you Bill for answering the questions I asked today.  You’ve provided some excellent information and advice in understanding what the differences are between O.E.M. manufactured auto glass products versus the non-O.E.M. manufacturers.

Bill George:  Thanks David, it’s always a pleasure to speak to auto glass specifications.

It’s pretty obvious that replacement auto glass that is manufactured by O.E.M. auto glass manufacturers provides consumers products with higher quality components and the most up-to-date engineering techniques that are required by the O.E.M. car manufacturers they make auto glass for today.  Reverse engineering of auto glass used by non-O.E.M. manufacturers adds variables into the manufacturing process that can effect fit and quality to those seeking replacements; and with vehicles manufactured today versus cars of the past, fit and quality is a key to safety.

I hope you enjoyed this blog.  I would appreciate any comments or thoughts you might like to share or ideas that you may have for topics.

Just sayin’…..

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

24 Comments