Glaziers Speak Out: Is "Full Service" Back in Fashion?
For some companies, being "full service" has been the cornerstone
of their business from day one. For others, specializing in various
segments of the glass industry was the direction of choice and/or
necessity. As margins tighten across the board and companies look
for their competitive edge, many seem to be finding it by diversifying
their operations and offering customers a wide range of products
and services in flat, automotive and specialty glass. Full service
is back bringing with it bigger and better returns.
"We are seeing a movement where full service glass is back in fashion,"
says Bill Harding, founder of Vision Glass, a full service glass
retailer in Springfield, Ill. "There was a time when there seemed
to be a mass exodus in the full service market to specialize in
just one area of the industry. Today, the margins are getting so
tight in the auto glass realm that companies traditionally specializing
in auto glass are either adding new service areas or bringing back
services [they had] dropped to get back into the full-service realm
to help increase market share and boost profits."
Diamond Glass Companies in Kingston, Pa., is such an example.
Long known as Diamond Triumph Auto Glass, Inc., a provider of automotive
glass replacement and repair service [with more 240 company owned
automotive auto glass centers, 1,000 mobile installation vehicles
and three distribution centers in 43 states] the company is gradually
diversifying back into the flat glass segment of the market.
Founded in 1923 [as Diamond Glass Works], Diamond Glass' roots
in the industry trace back to flat glass. With the advent of the
automobile and as demand in this segment grew, Diamond eventually
discontinued all flat glass operations.
"The decision to transition back into the flat glass arena is
a progressive step in our growth," explains Paul O'Malley, marketing
manager for Diamond Glass Co. "We try to change with the times to
best meet the needs of our customers. We feel the market is ready
for additional growth. Our name change and recent acquisitions mark
the beginnings of our movement back into the flat glass market.
We think this direction just makes good sense for our company at
Moss Glass in Anderson, Ind., recently brought back auto glass
service and installation to its operation. "Auto glass was an integral
component of the company for many years," says new owner Jamison
Carrier. "It was discontinued about 15 years ago. The timing and
demand has brought about our reintroducing it into our realm of
quality glass services.
"Moss Glass has a loyal following and our name has become synonymous
with anything that has to do with glass in our community," continues
Carrier. "We have been turning customers away who are looking for
quality auto glass services. While margins are not that great right
now in this segment, it's been a nice addition and provides a quick
turn around in cash flow. It's something our customers want and
there's no reason why we can't give it to them. We haven't been
aggressive in marketing this service right now, however, we plan
to make it well known that auto glass is back at Moss Glass in 2007."
DeGuelle Glass Company in Huntington Beach, Calif., began offering
a full range of quality glass services in 1962. During its more
than four decades in operation, the company has grown in size and
scope. Today, DeGuelle Glass's owner, Barbara Haynes, says she still
considers the company to be in the realm of "full service," although
auto glass installation and service was discontinued more than 30
years ago. "We have no intention of bringing this segment back because
we provide such a diversity of products and services within the
other specialty areas of our operation."
"Diversity is truly the key to success in this business," notes
Haynes. "We are always on the look out for new products to increase
our offerings to best meet the needs of our customers. Most recently,
we have added higher-end products, glass sinks, screens and antique
mirrors to name a few. Anytime you can kick anything you do up a
notch or two is good for business."