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Industry Reacts to Acquisition of Diamond Glass by Belron US, Predicts Future of Independent Shops

In the days following Friday's announcement that Belron US had the winning bid for Diamond Glass, many in the industry have expressed fear at what this transaction could do to the industry's independent shops. (CLICK HERE for related story.) The Independent Glass Association (IGA) issued a Beacon earlier this week expressing that it "vehemently opposes the approval of the sale of Diamond Glass to Belron US by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware." (CLICK HERE for related story.)

Several industry members have expressed similar fears.

"… Many see this huge new glass company monster devouring smaller [shops]," says Steve Owens of Clearvue Auto Glass in Jackson, Miss.

Doug Shaw of Doug's Windshield Repair and Replacement Services in McGehee, Ark., echoes Owens' thoughts.

"I think [the sale is] going to strengthen the monopoly [Belron US] already has," he says.

However, Shaw's fears are assuaged by the fact that he diversified his business in 2002-adding on automotive, residential and commercial tinting offerings.

"If not for having done that, I would've been out of business, along with about five others in a 40-mile radius that have closed their doors over the last two years," Shaw says.

Neil Duffy of Auto Glass Menders in San Jose, Calif., though, sees Belron truly gaining a national presence in the United States with this acquisition.

"With the auction sale of Diamond, I believe Belron will now have the platform and size to truly become a national glass installation company," he says. "It will be a first … for the United States. Our market has been so fractured and localized in the past, all attempts have failed for anyone to gain that sort of foothold."

Duffy also points out that this national presence could make the days ahead difficult for independent shop owners.

"The independents and others have a real battle on their hands, and, in many ways, on is out-gunned and out-manned," he says. "… I predict more fractures caused by failures of smaller chains that can't compete or by cast-offs from the merger. That will make life harder for us all because there will be more competition in a shrinking market."

Duffy, a blogger, recently wrote an imaginative blog about the Diamond acquisition, comparing it to various themes found in Shakespearean literature. CLICK HERE for blog.

How do you expect the sale of Diamond Glass to Belron US to affect your business? CLICK HERE to e-mail™ editor Penny Stacey, or CLICK HERE to visit the message board to discuss this and other issues.

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