Industry Pioneer Alfie Ogston Celebrates 45 Years of Innovation at Crystal Glass Canada

Alfie Ogston

Alfie Ogston celebrates 45 years at Crystal Glass Canada.

Alfie Ogston, inventor of the Extractor tool for auto glass removal, recently celebrated his 45-year anniversary at Crystal Glass Canada.

Ogston had already been in the glass business at a company called National Glass for five years before joining Crystal Glass Canada. When National Glass moved from Calgary to Vancouver, Ogston stayed behind and accepted a job at Crystal Glass Canada.

45 years later, Ogston enjoys his position as the Southern Alberta Regional Manager for Crystal Glass Canada because they’re a family-owned business and, he says, one of the biggest independent glass companies in Canada. Plus, he likes his coworkers.

“Great people to work with,” he says. “We have a lot of long-term employees here.”

During his many years in the business, Ogston has witnessed many changes in the industry, most notably the growing complexity of the work.

“Well, windshields, before [now] they were easy,” he says. “We just cut them out. Glue another one in, and they’d be off. There’d be two or three windshields per car.”

Now, Ogston says, there’s closer to 35 possible windshields their warehouses keep in stock for any particular car. Plus, he points out that many windshields now have cameras looking through them that require recalibration when replaced.

“There’s a lot more than just cutting out a windshield,” Ogston says.

Ogston himself had a major impact on industry innovation during his 45 years at Crystal Glass Canada. In 1994, after watching his peers struggle to pry auto glass out of vehicles, he invented the Extractor tool to help.

Before he invented the Extractor tool, Ogston said Crystal Glass and its associates did about eight to 10 windshield installations a day. With the Extractor, that number bumped up first to 25 a day and then eventually to 40 a day. Not only did the tool make installations quicker, Ogston says, but it also allowed technicians to take windshields out and put them back in without breaking them.

“They could get the tool in their hand for less than two minutes and the windshield was out,” Ogston says of his invention—his biggest sense of professional pride over the past 45 years.

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