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Auto Glass Shops Battle Frigid Weather with Much of Nation

In addition to the normal strains of running a business in a down economy, this week, many auto glass shops are fighting another battle, too: cold weather. The Northeast, Midwest and Southeast are seeing temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 below zero degrees Fahrenheit today, with the highest forecasted temperature for most of these areas falling around the 20s and 30s range.

One shop owner, Adam Nulton of Northeast Auto Glass in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., says that while his shop does offer mobile service (in addition to in-shop), the company's policy is to decline outside installs unless it's 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher outside.

"We always ask if they have a heated garage available, and if they do not, then we ask them to bring [the vehicle] into our shop or we contact one of our accounts [near the] customer and ask them if we can use their garage," says Nulton.

Of course, some customers don't always understand the necessity for this.

"If the customer wants it installed outside, we explain to them that the windshield will not bond properly and that it's unsafe for their family and the structure of their vehicle," he says. "They may tell us that they found someone else who will do it outside and we basically tell them that if you're comfortable putting yourself and your family's life at risk, then choose to go with that company."

"We turn work down if they are not understanding of our concerns and the safety we enforce," adds Nulton, whose town was projected to see a high of 9 degrees today.

Forty degrees is the limit for Clyde Stephens with Visions Glass in Perham, Minn., as well. Right now, Stephens is battling temperatures as low as -38 degrees Fahrenheit (without even accounting for wind chill factors).

"In winter all [our installations] have to be inside a heated, well-lit shop," says Stephens. He adds, "Most of our customers totally understand and would prefer to bring it in or have us pick it up and deliver … We are finding more and more customers, here anyway, prefer and some insist on having the work done in a controlled environment. "

Thru-Way Glass in Syracuse, N.Y., doesn't do any mobile installations at all, and their customers tend to respond to this well.

"… We get customers calling and telling us that they would never consider a mobile installation this time of year, no matter what mobile shops or [third-party administrators] preach," says Mike Russo, comptroller for the company. "It has been a tremendous boost to our business."

While cold-weather replacements below a certain temperature can be a safety risk, repair also has its challenges in cold-weather situations.

In times like these, Shawn Sparhawk, a repair technician for Delta Kits in Eugene, Ore., says, "If at all possible, do [the job] indoors."

In areas with snow, he warns, it's important to make sure there's no snow on top of the car before beginning the job. He also recommends using a bubble dome to seal the area around the repair to protect it from any moisture a prior snow might have caused.

"The deep freeze," as many are calling it, is expected to continue into the weekend.

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