Do we really need a National Auto Glass Association?

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 or not?

We will try to stick to the facts we currently have available and will be highlighting the possible positive and negative effects of such a group in Australia.

This is an open discussion so please feel free to post your input and 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 states 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 doing some general windscreen industry research and after reading the site 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 people/think tank that came up with the AGA idea. If anybody knows please feel free to comment.

After a little investigating it became apparent that most independents outside of the corporate sector did not get the memo. Sorry to say the committee is already in place, so should you have wanted to apply to be on the AGA committee its now too late.

The membership consists of 156 members in total. However, 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.

These numbers are observed from the AGA members list on their own website. Some simple maths gives us a chart of the stake holding portion of the members categorised in their subsequent groups below. See chart.

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

 

NAA pie image
Auto Glass Association Membership

So you could look at the AGA membership chart in two different ways. You could say the AGA consists of 156 individual members with free speech and input. Or you could say it consists of 55 members. 49 independents (listed as other) and 6 members supported by a 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 are independent. You are not independent if you belong to a group or network 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 predict the current membership of the AGA to be approximately 55 members (as of April 2015). Even this figure of 55 could be diluted further if you consider that many so called independents contract direct to the NWG network.

It’s interesting to point out that almost 70% of the AGA membership is made up from the corporate sector of the windscreen industry 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 would be naive to assume that the AGA group has lots of independent members making for a neutral unbiased group. When after closer analysis the group could be 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 and one to which we would subscribe, 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 also the same percentage that make up the total corporate membership, so there is very 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, we are happy to be corrected here in the comments if you know better. We did some enquiring 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, thats 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 is 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 favour 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 that are the cause of our internal problems.

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

Read more about the Auto Glass Association.

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