2008 10 Under 40 Awards
Manager, auto glass operations | Cindy Rowe Auto Glass
One-word description of self: Determined
One-word description of the auto glass industry: Challenging
Favorite Web site: eBay
Lesson learned the hard way: Don't let bad situations linger on. Address the situation when it happens and everyone will be better off in the end.
Brian Clayton, 35, joined Cindy Rowe Auto Glass, Harrisburg, Pa., as a trainee when he was 19 years old. Fifteen years later, he's the trainer. As manager of the company's auto glass division, he runs the day-to-day operations of 12 locations, supervising training, managing logistics and addressing customer service issues.
"Brian is dedicated to making sure we employ the top technicians," says Kirk Reed, director of operations. "Most technicians are hired with no experience and trained in-house."
Clayton often dedicates a day or two to training new technicians one-on-one. "There's not a person out there who I think I can't teach, as long as they are willing to come in and work," he says.
Clayton also works with seasoned technicians. "Brian developed a program at the company that helped two employees [Rob Grace and Jason Horne] come out on top in the [ Auto Glass Technician Olympics] the last two years," Reed says.
"I worked hand in hand with those guys, making sure they were ready, and I'm really proud of them," Clayton says.
Despite his move into managerial and training positions, Clayton says he remains a "technician at heart."
"I have my tool box in my car at all times. If I go to a shop and find it's really busy, I'll take my tools out and start working. I have respect for my employees and I think they have respect for me if they know I'm not asking them to do something I wouldn't do."
Clayton makes sure he knows the best techniques by keeping up with his own industry education. He reads industry publications, networks with other industry representatives and stays in close communication with suppliers. "If I just stayed in my office, I wouldn't know what was going on out there," he says.
"Brian has a drive to learn more about the business," says Bill Oster, area sales manager, AGR Northeast region, for Pilkington, Lancaster Pa.
"As the industry changes, he's always looking for the best way to do things; he's always finding new and better products to use-different moldings, urethanes, spools."
A major source of his industry product knowledge comes from product testing for suppliers. Clayton has flown out to Dow and Sika facilities to perform product testing, Reed says.
"Brian knows we need to be using the best products out there, and he continues to do testing on products that we're currently using and also on competing products," Reed says. "He's helping them be a better company, and helping us to make sure we're using the best products out there for our customers."
Clayton's role as chair of the National Glass Association's Certification Committee has also pushed him to continue his industry education. "I learn more from that committee than I give, just because of the industry knowledge of the committee members," he says.
His committee work also allows him to promote best practices for the industry, in addition to Cindy Rowe.
"I have no problem telling people what's best for the industry [in terms of] what perception we are giving to the insurance companies and the public. We are all part of the same group," Clayton says. "For years, our industry didn't have a good reputation, and I'd hate to see that happen again."