This column itself has been a longtime source of agitation for change in auto glass repair and replacement but I have been remiss in not providing any real solutions. We have to come together to help solve some of the basic problems that poor craftsmanship and shoddy installs have caused in the auto glass industry. Before any real tragedies unfold, I would like to slap on my eBay-purchased thinking cap (country of manufacture unknown) and propose several regulations that can be enacted to help improve the overall vehicle safety that the auto glass industry wishes to promote.
In my view, controlling the sale of caulking guns would be of highest priority. The availability of this over-the-counter tool has led to obvious abuses within our industry. The speed with which urethanes can be dispensed has increased dramatically over the past few decades as well. That upgrade has allowed more poor installations over a shorter time period. We need to rebalance the need for speed with public safety.
First, all vendors of caulking guns should be licensed. Registration of caulking gun owners should be mandated. Caulking gun safety courses must be taken by potential buyers prior to purchases. Possession of high voltage military-grade power caulking guns will be limited to certified professionals and not be made available for common, much less public, use. We may even consider that any person who has not completed a two-year-long apprenticeship not be allowed to own, much less operate, anything more than a hand-powered one. The sale of caulking guns of any type, even collectibles, will be banned from taking place at any outside trade show.
The same goes for other industry-related tools. Any battery or corded device that is used for auto glass removal must be kept out the hands of untrained and emotionally unbalanced individuals. Anyone who has witnessed the impact of an Express upon the sheet metal of an auto can testify to its ruinous power. Again, we must tightly control access to these implements of mass destruction by licensing and registration.
I do sympathize with the argument that some of the innocent may suffer and that some of these tools may fall into the wrong hands. We have to start somewhere. Yet if my proposed 30-day cooling off period between purchasing and possession can save just a few pinchwelds from corrosion and stave off mold, we may just begin to turn the corner away from the everyday tragedies that take place daily across this country.
Which procedures and behaviors are being passed off as professional conduct needs to be addressed as well. I am proposing that background checks be performed as a routine matter for anyone attempting to purchase auto glass tools and materials. Whether it may be Homeland Security or a state consumer board that administers and approves said purchases, the public safety of this country’s residents should be put above the personal freedom and privacy of an individual citizen or potential one.
A limit on the number of urethane tubes that an individual can purchase and have possession of should be set. Also the selling vendor must maintain records noting names and valid ID of said purchasers. I realize that we may get some push-back from adhesive manufacturers and distributors on this provision. I also acknowledge a real paranoia exists within our industry that urethane registration would make it far easier for Belron to confiscate known supplies if their plans for total control of the auto glass market ever come to fruition.
Last but not least, there is a compelling need to limit the existence of high-capacity windshield racks. Is there some Freudian reason that necessitates a retail truck or van mobile unit carry more than three or four lites at a time? Any number higher than that only panders to those interested in volume installs or who care little about gas mileage. The industry has enough of those greedy misanthropes so measures need to be taken to control their numbers (I would like to acknowledge LW of Texas for suggesting this final regulation. I give credit where credit is due).
It is a sad fact to confirm that each and every one of these proposed regulations will meet with disdain and resistance. I expect special interest groups or corporate entities will lobby Congress to water down or reject outright passage or enforcement of these minimal recommendations. Constitutionally speaking, it is my humble opinion that they are legal and would not be struck down by any court. I admit that I am not an attorney but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn last month.
The time for talk is over! Contact your congressman and demand they do something. My best advice is to mumble that you could be a member of the NGA or IGA. Hopefully they may instead confuse you being with the NRA. If that happens enough times, we could see some real action.