The history of windshield repair is filled with entrepreneurs and individuals who overcame great many
hurdles to become successful. While this history mainly deals with the companies that manufacture
the tools required to produce a repair, it is not meant to downgrade the activities of service
technicians who actually did the repairs. Without the great efforts of individual pioneering retailers the
industry would not have prospered and grown. People like Lucille Massey (Houston), Bill Batley
(Seattle), Bruce Quande (Missoula, Mo.) and Cindy Rowe Taylor (Harrisburg, Pa.) were responsible
for talking to consumers and doing repairs. Also, this brief history deals only with work that was
started in the United States. Many of these companies later spread around the world, forming other
companies and associations. Without the efforts of all these people windshield repair would not be
where it is today.
Automobile glass repair or what is generally called windshield repair is a recent innovation when
compared to the history of the automobile. The technology needed to repair glass relates to the
introduction of multiple layers of glass (laminated safety glass) in windshields. Laminated glass allows
the windshield to remain basically intact, and for a repair to be done by removing the air in the
damaged area and replacing it with a resin. Although laminated glass in automobiles dates back to
the 1930s, real improvements came in the 1960s with the improved plastic inner layer of polyvinyl
butyral (PVB). Prior to the early 1970s when the first windshield repair process was invented, the
only improvement that could be done was purely cosmetic. Typically, an oil-based fluid was poured
into the area to fill the damage and to “hide” the break. It has been said that some used car dealers
did this to try to sell a vehicle without installing a new windshield. It should go without saying that this
was not a permanent repair.
The first company to produce a repair system was Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M)
Company in St. Paul, Minn. The 3M Company first introduced a system they called “Scotch Weld” in
1971. This system employed ultra sound vibrations to clean the break and a syringe to inject a
resin, or adhesive into the damage. The equipment successfully repaired “bullseye” type damage,
but unfortunately was very large (filling the bed of a pick-up truck) and was very expensive to build
and thus to lease to others. It is said that 3M did a good job of introducing the concept of windshield
repair to insurance companies, but decided to pursue other products when the repair equipment
failed to attain the volume that they required.
In 1972, Origin Inc., a research company founded by Dr. Frank Warner in Jackson Hole, Wyo.,
developed a process for repairing stone damaged windshields. Dr. Warner had personally
experienced stones breaking his windshield, and had directed work on a solution to repair the glass,
rather than replace the entire windshield. A key member of Dr. Warner’s company, was Bill Wiele, a
chemical engineer who developed adhesive resins that would be clear and optically match the
windshield glass. Dr. Warner decided to license his invention to a former associate, Gerry Keinath.
Keinath had recently started a small company, Novus Inc. to market innovative products. Novus
was responsible for much of the early pioneering work with insurance companies and fleet operators
to convince them of the merits of repairing windshields. During the early days of Novus, the efforts
were concentrated towards selling equipment to glass replacement shops and automotive dealers.
While a significant amount of equipment was sold, not many repairs were being done. At the same
time, Keinath noticed that there was a small and growing group of individuals who were offering the
service of windshield repair using the Novus equipment. He decided to concentrate on working with
“repair only” specialists. He began by licensing the process to these individuals, and later in the mid
1980s moved into full-fledged franchising of the business.
In the mid 1970s, as Novus was establishing its “repair-only” specialists, another company began by
selling a “vacuum” windshield repair system within the glass replacement market. Mort Gallub in
suburban Philadelphia founded Glass Medic. Gallub owned one of the largest auto reconditioning
operations on the East Coast and found that replacing windshields meant his profit margins on used
vehicles became very slim. He had heard of the early progress of repair, and experimented with
various systems. Mort hired a research engineer to improve on the system and eventually
developed a “vacuum pump” process that he used within his reconditioning business. Gallub hired Bill
Matles, a young glass replacement specialist to market the product. In the 1980s Glass Medic
became the largest selling product within the glass replacement industry.
As the 1970s came to a close, the word of windshield repair began to spread, a number of other
companies began operations. Many began by first doing repairs, and then by producing their own
equipment. Tony and Gerry Jacino started Clear Star in New York, Hap Alexander founded Glas-
Weld Systems in Oregon and John Surdich started Kemxert in Pennsylvania.
In the early 1980s two companies that were very big in auto glass replacement produced and sold
repair equipment. Harmon Glass in Minneapolis manufactured a system they called the
“Harmonizer,” and Auto Glass Specialists under Bob Birkhauser formed a division called AEGIS which
produced and sold their equipment. In 1984, Walt and Darlene Deines formed Delta Kits in Oregon.
Their son, Brent Deines, now runs Delta Kits.
In 1981, Gene Curwick started doing windshield repair in Minneapolis and in 1985, he started
marketing his own resins and tools. In the mid to late 1980s more companies started producing
equipment. Dan Wanstrath produced equipment that was automated and formed Glass Technology
in Colorado. Tom Sloan, Steve Ameter, and Steve Beck formed Liquid Resins International in Illinois
with specialization as an independent supply house with multiple resins. Joyce Newsome started Tri
Glass in Washington State. Ken Einiger, concentrating on sales to people wanting to start their own
businesses, founded Glass Mechanix in Florida. Rich Campfield started Ultra Bond in California by
specializing in equipment to repair long cracks. Rich later moved his company to Colorado.
In the 1990s windshield repair continued to grow with more companies entering the business, and
some changing ownership. While we can’t list all of the new companies and changes, here are a few
of the more prominent ones. Keith Surdich left Kemxert and formed his own company Poly-Lite W/R
Supplies in Pennsylvania. Dave Casey founded Super Glass Windshield Repair with Bill Costello and
became one of two companies offering windshield repair as a franchised product and Bill Penrod
formed US Windshield Repair in Orange, Calif. In the very early 1990s Glass Medic was sold to its
largest international customer, Belron International, the largest glass replacement retailer in the
world. The North American rights were sold to Dave Schuh, a former manager of Novus. Dave
operated the company until the late 1990s when Belron purchased it back. It is now operating as
Glass Medic America under the leadership of Paul Syfko. Also in the 1990s, the Keinath family sold
Novus to Trans Canada Glass International (TCGI).
By the year 2000, significant changes occurred in repair-versus-replacement marketing. Although
repair had been done by independent replacement dealers, and to a limited amount by some of the
larger U.S. retailers, many replacement dealers, and most large retailers did not devote a major
effort toward repair. While repair was being done by leading replacement companies in Europe, such
as Belron’s Carglass and Autoglass divisions, it was not done to the same extent in the U.S. In 1998
the marketing of windshield repair changed dramatically when Safelite Auto Glass, the largest glass
replacement retailer in the U.S., decided to embrace windshield repair by forming a unit specializing in
repair. Safelite’s Repair Medic program was developed under the leadership of Paul Gross. The
Repair Medic operation spread to major markets in the United States offering repair directly from
Safelite. In early 2002 another of the large U.S. auto glass replacement dealers, Harmon Auto
Glass, founded its own repair only division under the name RepairOne to concentrate on windshield
While companies concentrating on “repairs only service” continue to do the largest number of
repairs, windshield repair has also proven itself as a viable alternative product offered by most retail
service companies in auto glass. And the predictions are that repair will continue to grow as insurance
companies and consumers understand the cost and product benefits. Today windshield repair is an
accepted product, not only in the United States, but also within almost every country around the