National Auto Glass Conference raises its own best practices standard

By David Walker
February 23, 2009
AUTO : MEETINGS AND EVENTS

The Who’s Who of the auto glass industry gathered in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 18-20, for an intimate, collaborative executive forum at the National Glass Association's 2009 National Auto Glass Conference.

Showcasing best practices in the auto glass industry, the conference focused on “continuous improvement.” Whether by harnessing the latest Web technology for marketing and sales, raising standards for training and work practices that drive technician and corporate performance, or simply better understanding the economic forces that affect long-term planning, conference participants left Orlando with actionable take-aways to shape the industry.

Notable highlights
Shop management begins at the top with the core values and culture established by leadership, said Randy Pennington in his keynote address. A nationally renowned author and performance expert, Pennington set the stage for the conference by discussing the secrets to competing, managing and leading in these challenging times.

Leading Web site authority Andy Beal, president, Marketing Pilgrim, Raleigh, N.C., dissected attendees’ sites in front of a live audience in his presentation, Building a Glass-Kicking Web Site, humbling a few and leaving all with insights on how to upgrade their use of this critical communications medium.

Two dynamic panel discussions on marketing and sales management, featuring executives from ContactPoint, St. George, Utah, and Salesforce.com, San Francisco, addressed how advances in technology and multiple marketing channels are evolving.

David Rohlfing, president and CEO, Glass America, led a discussion on technician excellence. The panel, composed of leading technicians from across the nation, looked at the trade-offs, constraints and conventional wisdom driving the industry on training, quality standards and the pressures of delivering outstanding technical service on a day-to-day basis.

Auto glazing standards are coming and may soon sweep the country, said Sharon Lemieux of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's staff, who led an enlightening town hall forum on this topic.

Tom Feeney, president and CEO, Belron US, Columbus, Ohio, captured the week’s thematic essence--continuous improvement--during his capstone presentation, reinforcing the notion that best practices are best seen as a journey of continuous improvement.

Jeff Dietrich, senior analyst, Institute for Trend Research, Concord, N.H., delivered the economic forecast. He urged attendees to prepare for a new set of economic realities and a global economy that has yet to hit bottom.

NGA named Dick Inman, president, Bob's Glass, Longwood, Fla., its 2008 Len Stolk Achievement Award winner.

See the list of presentations and photos from the conference.

The author is vice president of association services for the National Glass Association, McLean, VA. Write him at dwalker@glass.org.