Surround yourself with good people

By Leo Cyr
January 1, 2008

Each of us goes through life-altering experiences that change how we think and approach the remainder of our finite existence. Two months ago, a routine visit to the doctor escalated into an unexpected trip to the hospital. I remember thinking I had no time for such nonsense.

I know now this attitude is not unusual. The average person does not welcome pain, and I’m no exception. At the time, I also wasn’t sure what the problem was, so every hospital horror story flashed through my mind. It sounds silly now, but my attitude went from baffled to belligerent when faced with the ultimate indignity of wearing a hospital gown. How humiliating!

That belligerence dissipated quickly after a cardiac catheter test revealed I needed quintuple-bypass surgery. Suddenly, all I wanted was to have the surgery as soon as possible. My surgeon agreed. The next morning I was out of intensive care and back in my hospital room admiring the new zipper on my chest. “Yikes,” I thought. “Where are the staples and stitches? What’s holding me together?”

My nurse explained the doctor used special glue that reduces post-surgical pain and promotes faster healing. It sounds gruesome, but it works.
Why write about open-heart surgery? Although I was scared out of my wits, in the end, the surgery was virtually painless. My experience has helped ease others’ fears regarding similar surgery, and if it can help any of you, it’s worth writing about.

There is another reason. This experience required me to change. Proper eating, exercise, prescribed medication and self-education became the prerequisites for survival. Prior to surgery, I was locked into a “work harder, not smarter” approach to life.

I mean no disrespect, but I see many similarities between my life and the lives of friends in the auto glass industry. We believe that if we want something done, we have to do it ourselves. But what if something happens, like surgery? The humbling reality is that no one is irreplaceable. If you’ve surrounded yourself with good people, they will pull together in your absence.

NGA Vice President of Association Services David Walker, for example, completed the Herculean task of delivering high quality, reasonably priced employee education, training and certification programs through

The National Windshield Repair Committee, led by Chairman Jay Sampson, completed our new windshield repair training modules for
Early last summer, NGA presented the Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass Standard to the American National Standards Institute. Final approval rested on NGA passing ANSI’s audit for conformity with its “essential practices.” NGA Manager of Industry Standards and Auto Glass Peg Stroka made it happen.

Shortly thereafter, the Society of Automotive Engineers Z26.1 Committee challenged the conclusions reached in ROLAGS. ROLAGS Vice Chairman David Taylor provided a research summary that allowed NGA’s ROLAGS Secretariat to address the challenge.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the coming year, NGA will continue to offer courses such as the Auto Glass Technical Institute and Glass Installer Technical Institute through local technical schools. If your technician workforce is going gray as quickly as America is turning “green,” you appreciate the value such efforts provide.

In 2008, NGA will join forces with California officials to train new auto glass technicians, and discussions are underway in other states as well. The net effect is your state tax dollars will help train the next generation of glass technicians.

The National Auto Glass Conference will continue. NGA officials have refocused the educational program for 2008, creating a member-inspired management forum designed to help attendees analyze their businesses’ strengths and weaknesses.

In October 2008, the Auto Glass Pavilion at GlassBuild America will become a permanent part of the annual event, providing exhibitors and retailers the opportunity to see customers and products from all segments of the glass industry in one place.

The 2008 Auto Glass Pavilion also will feature the NGA’s second biennial competition to name America’s top auto glass technician. The winners will represent the United States in the International Master Fitter Competition in Düsseldorf, Germany, in October.

These are challenging and exciting times. And now I know what holds me together: You do!


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. Write him at