Feeney, Rowe discuss Belron's acquisition of Cindy Rowe

Feeney, Rowe discuss the details
Sahely Mukerji
January 9, 2009
AUTO : BUSINESS

After about 30 years of roaring business, Cindy Rowe decided to sell her company to Belron US, Columbus, Ohio. Belron officials announced the acquisition of the Harrisburg, Pa., auto glass repair and replacment company in August 2008 and the deal closed Dec. 31, 2008.

“It was time to step back; it’s been 30 years,” Rowe said during a phone interview Jan. 7. “People have been looking at us for quite a while. So, when Belron approached us and the opportunity presented itself, we went with it. Belron will be able to take our company and grow it further, and provide more opportunities for our employees. By picking the right company, I will see what I have created continue to expand and go on to bigger things. We [ourselves] wouldn’t be able to do that, but Belron will, because it’s big and has the technology.”

Belron plans on keeping the Cindy Rowe brand at least for the next several years, “but they don’t know where this is going to go,” Rowe said.

“We recognize the strength and value of the Cindy Rowe brand name,” said Tom Feeney, president and CEO, Belron US, in a Jan. 7 e-mail. “The Belron US marketing team will work with the Cindy Rowe team to learn more about the brand's history and strategy before a final branding plan is determined. Until then, it is business as usual. No brands will change.”

Cindy Rowe's strong performance and brand recognition made it a highly attractive target for Belron US, Feeney said.

A team of Belron US associates, led by John Sadler, vice president of warehouse operations, Belron US, will work closely with the Cindy Rowe management to formulate integration plans, which are expected to be implemented over the next six to nine months.

Rowe and Dave Taylor, chief operating officer, Cindy Rowe, plan to remain involved for the next three years as consultants for Belron US. “[My role will be] mostly PR,” Rowe said. “It’s big brand-name awareness. I will also help with the merger in any way they might need.”

Going forward, Belron will have more acquisitions in the works, Feeney said. “This acquisition is the continuation of the Belron US overarching strategic plan to profitably grow in the U.S. vehicle glass business. Growth will come from expanding the company's sales and profit base, and through additional strategic targeted acquisitions.” He declined to give details.

As the larger companies in the market, such as Belron, keep getting larger, opportunities for mid-sized companies will decline, Rowe said, but there will always be a niche for small companies—the one-man, one-woman shops—for wholesale work. There will also be opportunity to make better deals with insurance companies due to job volume as the big companies get bigger, she said.

Even though the auto glass market has been affected by the slowing economy, Belron plans to continue to grow, Feeney said. “We will carry on with our commitment to invest in our company, our people and focus on delighting every one of our customers every time we have the opportunity. We will ignore the negative external factors going on around us and focus on making our business a success.”

Rowe, in the meantime, will “sit back a bit and chill a little” now that her baby’s left home to grow in the big world, she said. “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet, but it will soon,” she said. An RN by profession, she already volunteers one day at the local hospital and plans to spend more of her time volunteering. “My husband and I do a fair amount of traveling and will continue to do that,” she said. “I won’t be bored; it’s not in my nature.”

E-mail Sahely Mukerji, senior editor, at smukerji@glass.org.