Do we really need an Auto Glass Association (AGA)?

In this Blog we are going to openly discuss the National Auto Glass Association of Australia. We plan to write it in several parts as there is too much information to digest in one single Blog.

Hopefully by doing it this way each reader can make an informed decision as to whether the Auto Glass Association is a good idea for their business?

We will stick to the facts we currently have and highlight the positive and negative effects of such a group in Australia.

This is an open discussion so feel free to post your thoughts, you can do so anonymously if you wish. This may effect your windscreen business in the future so your input is important.

The AGA Membership

A National Auto Glass Association was formed in Australia in 2013 and in reference to their web site it was formed to, ” To give all sides of the Auto Glass Industry a unified voice”. The AGA plan to do this without having any bias or corporate agenda“.

We came across the AGA website by accident about 6 months ago whilst performing general industry research and after reading their website in detail we decided to investigate a little further.

The first question that sprung to mind was “how was this AGA organisation formed?” By this we mean the original individual that came up with the AGA idea. A group is always formed by the idea of one person and then shared with others who may agree. If anybody knows the answer to this please feel free to comment.

After a little investigating it became apparent that independents outside of the corporate sector (The ones who make up the back bone of the industry) did not get the memo. As a result, the AGA committee has already been self appointed, so should you have wanted to be part the AGA committee its now too late.

The AGA membership consists of 156 members in total. However, it’s important to point out of these 156 members 48 represent O’Brien Glass Outlets. 27 Instant Windscreens. 13 National Auto Glass (NAGs). 8 National Windscreen Group (NWG). 7 Glass Assist and 4 from Novus Windscreens.

The above numbers are extracted from the AGA members list on their own website. Some simple math gives us a chart (below) of the stake holding portion of the members categorised in their subsequent groups.

For accuracy its important to point out that Glass Assist could be running under several brand names, so it’s difficult to note their percentage stake accuratly, but lets say for now its at least what the chart illustrates. The same could be said for NWG who would have members of their network simultaneously belonging other category’s.

NAA pie image
Auto Glass Association Membership

You could observe at the above AGA membership chart in two different ways. You could say the AGA consists of 156 individual members with free speech and input. Alternatively one could say the AGA consists of 55 members. Of the 55 members 49 are independents (listed as other in chart) and 6 members are supported by a network/group of employees, each with a vote.

We would be more inclined to suggest the latter, as it would be silly to assume that individual branches/employees belonging to the same national network/group could be considered independent. You are not independent if you belong to a group/network or national brand as you are governed by their regulations and policy. In other words, you are subject to their orders and your vote would be influenced by your employer.

With this in mind we would estimate the current membership of the AGA to be approximately 55 members (businesses) (as of April 2015). Even this figure of 55 could be diluted further if you consider that many so called independents contract directly to the NWG network.

It’s interesting to point out that almost 70% of the AGA membership is made up from the corporate sector and only 6 companies.

The point we are trying to make here is how many voices will actually be heard, or more to the point listened to. It’s incorrect to assume that the AGA group is made up of independent members making a unbiased group. When closer analysis suggests the group is controlled by only a handful of corporate directors who are represented by their employees on the AGA committee.

It comes as no surprise that the President, Vice President and Treasurer all belong to the corporations with larger stakes. (at the time of this writing)

It’s important to understand that in the event of an AGA vote if you are a true independent company you will have only one vote. However, if your are a larger corporation you may have as many as 48. Perhaps a fairer system, would be to have one vote per brand.

The Committee

The committee consists of 16 board members and to our knowledge they were voted into their positions by the current membership of 156, or 55 depending on which way you would like to look at it. Of the 16 committee members 11 or 69% belong to either national corporations, or franchises. Some other independents on the committee belong to national networks also. Those with sharp eye would notice that this 69% that make up the committee is almost the same percentage that make up the total corporate membership, so there is a good correlation here.

The President, Vice President and Treasurer all belong to the the largest 3 windscreen corporations in Australia. Again, it’s important to point out that if you are a stand alone business and you want to become part of the committee then it would be likely you will have to seek full support of the 49 independents. As it would be a fair assumption that the corporations will be seeking to install their own representative.

Cost to join the AGA

We are not completely sure of how the pricing structure works, so we are happy to be corrected here in the comments if you know better. We did some inquiring and we think it goes like this. Full Membership is $8.8k and an associate member is $275.
As an associate your $275 will buy you access to their site forum and you will get newsletters. You also get a listing on the AGA website. However, you don’t get to have a say at committee meetings, that is unless the committee gives you personal invitation.
If you fancy a shot at getting on the committee then it going to cost you $8.8k, that’s correct not a error. In addition, you will be expected to attend AGA meetings at your own expense and own time.
This could be another reason why it’s only the large corporations that are running the AGA show. The $8.8k annual membership fee plus meeting expenses should be enough to deter most if not all the true independents.
So why is it $8.8k to be on the committee? Why would price determine who should be on the board? Why should some brands get to vote multiple times? This will be interesting to observe in the future when the committee is put to the vote. Will an independent that is not part of a network ever get to direct the AGA? Time will tell.

Summary

It’s critical to consider if your are a small independent business then your wants and needs will be completely different to that of a corporation. The current challenges we face as small local business come directly from our competitors.

Whilst we are in favor of a group that supports better quality and information. At this time we are having a difficulty in believing this help and support is going to come directly from the corporate competitors.

Even at this early stage of the AGA we personally believe the conflict of interest is just too big to get around. At this point in time it’s like the chickens asking the wolves to take care of their security fencing.

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