Technician certification credentials

By Leo Cyr
January 1, 2007
AUTO : TRAINING

In a recent column, I addressed industry concerns regarding the misuse of technician certification credentials and industry standards. (See Page 18, September/October 2006.) It now seems those concerns were justified.

This past fall, the National Glass Association completed the first round of technician certification and Auto Glass Technical Institute verifications for the Metryx registry. The results of the verification process were sobering.

Of the 11,099 Metryx registrants who claimed to be NGA-certified auto glass or windshield repair technicians in good standing, or AGTI graduates, less than 13 percent actually were.

NGA officials could verify just 79 of the 1,101 people who claimed to have graduated from AGTI. The technician certification results were no better. Only 1,081 of the 5,785 auto glass technicians who claimed to be NGA certified actually were, and only 34 of the 1,882 technicians who claimed to hold NGA windshield repair certification did. Then, there were the 2,331 technicians who claimed to hold NGA’s highest honor of Master Certified Auto Glass Technician. We could verify only 229.

Many NGA-certified technicians and AGTI graduates have yet to register with Metryx. If and when they do, NGA will proudly verify their accomplishments. In the interim, we are left to wonder why 8,654 individuals falsely claimed to be NGA certified after years of complaining technician certification had no value. The irony is like a slap in the face.

Because I can
As I stood on my back deck watching the fishing boats come in, I noticed the name on one boat: “Because I Can.” That was the answer. It was easier for technicians to claim to be certified than to actually become certified. Why? Because they could!

For example, a Floridian couple recently consulted the Coalition for Auto Glass Safety & Public Awareness Internet site, www.myautoglass.org, and decided they wanted an NGA-certified technician to do their windshield replacement. They consulted the Yellow Pages, found an AGR business advertising NGA-certified technicians and insisted their insurance company respect their choice of service provider. The experience was a “leaking” disaster. I received a bitterly disappointed e-mail from the couple containing the names of the shop and the technician. It turns out the technician was not NGA certified. I notified Metryx, and they removed the technician’s false certification credentials from the registry and notified the technician’s employer via e-mail.

Within minutes, the couple’s insurance company re-authorized them to take their car to a shop with verified NGA-certified technicians. By the end of the day, they had contacted me to say their belief in “humankind” had been restored. CASPA received a “sincere thank you” e-mail from the director of the insurance company’s auto glass program.

Metryx administrator Lynx Services of Pittsburgh and NGA have taken steps to help ensure this Florida couple’s experience isn’t repeated. Metryx officials have removed the credentials of those technicians whose certification NGA could not verify from the registry, and NGA has begun sending “cease and desist” letters to Metryx registrants falsely claiming to be NGA certified.

Yet no amount of enforcement will solve the problem unless those who have the most to lose become involved. In my opinion, those are the auto glass repair and replacement businesses that invest in training and certification.

Don’t assume NGA knows a company is falsely claiming to have certified technicians. If you suspect a company of doing so, visit www.glass.org, click on the “Find a Certified Tech” link and check for yourself. Or call us.

Looking ahead
For years, AGR business owners have rationalized their apathy toward certification by claiming that insurance companies could care less about safety. Yet 87 percent of Metryx-registered technicians felt technician certification had enough commercial value that they falsely claimed to be certified. I’m not buying the excuse they were “mistaken.”

Even if the insurance industry was totally disinterested in safety—which it is not—U.S. highway accidents result in 40,000 deaths, 3 million injuries and $150 billion in property damage every year. Insensitivity to safety is just bad business.

Nothing involving the AGR industry and insurance companies is ever easy. We talk “at” each other rather than “with” one another. On Nov. 15, 2006, CASPA hosted a meeting in Washington, D.C., with State Farm Insurance Co. of Bloomington, Ill., and Travelers of St. Paul, Minn., to discuss our respective goals and priorities. I’ll report more fully on the results of that meeting after our guests have had an opportunity to respond to some of the initiatives discussed. In the meantime, we have already scheduled a follow-up meeting. That’s important! People don’t agree to follow-up meetings if they have nothing to discuss. We do…and we will.

 

The author is the National Glass Association's vice president of auto glass and executive director of NGA's Coalition for Auto Glass Safety & Public Awareness. Contact him at leo@glass.org.