Auto Glass Specialists closing 11 of its stores

Auto Glass Specialists of Madison will close 11 of its 71 Midwest stores, but its fleet of signature "little red trucks" will roll the roads unscathed.

Beltline, on a declining market for replacement auto glass. The company's two other Madison stores will remain open. <

"The changes taking place came from some difficult decisions, however the steps are essential to ensure the profitability and long-term growth of the company," president and chief executive Robert Birkhauser said in a statement. <

John DeGraff, director of marketing for the company, declined comment on how many of the company's more than 300 employees would lose their jobs or whether they would receive severance packages. Auto Glass Specialists intends to keep all of the trucks used to make on-site visits, which account for more than 70 percent of the company's business, DeGraff said. <

"We have obviously absorbed many of the employees back" into the company through the trucks, said DeGraff, who predicted the firm would gain "significant" savings from the changes. <

DeGraff estimated unit sales in the replacement auto glass industry had declined by 10 percent to 20 percent since 2001, pressured by higher insurance deductibles that make consumers reluctant to replace a cracked windshield. He said sales had not declined as sharply for Auto Glass Specialists but declined to say by how much.

To make its distribution system more efficient, the company has chosen PPG Auto Glass of Pittsburgh to supply parts to stores and work out of two Auto Glass Specialists warehouses. Officials at the Pittsburg company were not available for comment Tuesday

600450 Auto Glass Specialists closing 11 of its stores
Date: 29 April 2004

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