AGRR Magazine

Belron US and Diamond Triumph Discuss Announcement of Settlement; Industry Reacts

Despite rumors that Diamond Triumph has committed to buy a certain amount of glass from Belron US over the next five years as part of the settlement announced yesterday, neither Mark Smolik, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for Belron US, nor Bill Cogswell, president of Diamond Triumph would confirm or deny this report, which appeared yesterday on the Columbus Business First website (click here for story).

Both Smolik and Cogswell advised that the details of the settlement are confidential and the information released yesterday in the press release is the only information available at this time.

The official "Joint Motion for Dismissal of All Claims", issued in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on June 12, reads as follows: "In support of this motion, the parties state that they have reached an amicable settlement and resolution of all claims including, but not limited to, those claims dismissed by reason of this Court's order on summary judgment dated July 31, 2006" (click here for story).

A pre-trial hearing had been scheduled for June 22, 2007. Cogswell, however, noted that the two have been working toward the settlement for quite some time.
"Timing is coincidental," Cogswell said.

As noted in the press release, both companies hope to work together to stop the use of insurance incentives in the industry (see the August-September 2007 issue of AGRR for a detailed look at insurance incentives). "I think both CEOs have committed to work proactively to address certain industry issues such as auto glass shop incentives, paid-for auto glass insurance referrals, and that is something that Belron in particular feels is an inappropriate activity by various glass shops and we would like to see it addressed and stopped," Smolik told™ and AGRR magazine.

As for specific plans to work together on this effort, there is nothing in place at this time. "The only specific plans are to continue to do the things we both have in place, by hiring the right people, making sure our techs are trained properly both in terms of auto glass installation and urethane use and continue with an endeavor to get the entire industry to focus on the safety aspects of our business," Cogswell said.

When asked if steering, the original focus of the suit Diamond Triumph originally filed in 2002, is still a concern for the Kingston, Pa.-based company, Cogswell declined comment.

As the two companies return to business sans lawsuits, many in the industry are talking about what the end of the 5-year long suit could mean for independents and others in the industry.

"We're all looking for a white knight, for someone to top Safelite, and I really don't think that's going to happen," said Neil Duffy of Auto Glass Menders in San Jose, Calif.

Ian Graham of Windshield Solutions in Cloverdale, Va., noted the focus on insurance incentives is what has alarmed him.

"With the steep discounts given to insurance companies nowadays and the NAGS rebalance I don't see how anyone, even the big boys, can afford to give any incentives for referrals," Graham said.

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