Safelite brings second-largest auto-glass company into the fold


Jim Weiker - The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)



Columbus-based Safelite Group, the largest auto glass company in the nation, has acquired Massachusetts-based TruRoad, the nation’s second-largest auto-glass company.

Now comes the hard work of integrating the two industry giants.

“It could take us anywhere from six to nine months to convert customers, payroll, insurance, uniforms, vans, signs, supply chains …,” said Safelite President and CEO Tom Feeney.

“One of the things we’ve found in acquisitions is that speed is an asset. The longer you delay these things, the more problems creep in.”

As Feeney noted, Safelite has plenty of acquisition experience. The company has bought 20 companies in the past decade and expects “four or five” more acquisitions yet this year, he said.

Still, this one is unusually large. Through its brands, including JN Phillips Auto Glass, TechnaGlass and Harmon AutoGlass, TruRoad serves 17 states through 95 corporate and franchise locations and more than 5,000 independent affiliates.

Even though the acquisition was completed less than two weeks ago, Feeney said Safelite has already met with TruRoad’s 1,000 employees.

“We’ve probably seen every TruRoad associate face-to-face to communicate what this means to them, and have given them a special website to help find answers,” he said. “Equally important, you have to communicate with your own teams. They want to know what it means to them.”

Jobs will be cut where TruRoad and Safelite staffs duplicate work, but Feeney estimated that that 90% of TruRoad workers will be retained as Safelite employees. Corporate functions will be consolidated in Columbus, potentially adding an estimated 100 jobs to Safelite’s central Ohio workforce of 2,200.

While Safelite has aggressively bought companies, Feeney attributed only 5% of the company’s revenue growth — from $1 billion to $2 billion in the past five years — to acquisitions. TruRoad will expand that by adding $130 million in annual revenue to Safelite, he said.

TruRoad’s brands are strong in specific regions: JN Phillips in New England, TechnaGlass in Utah and Harmon in Minnesota, which means they bump up against Safelite, which operates in all 50 states.

Feeney said some field offices may close, but Safelite expects to keep most to serve TruRoad’s customers.

“We will rationalize real estate but will end up with a bigger footprint to serve customers,” he said. “We’ll have more technicians and more leadership to run the markets, which is a big reason for the acquisition.”

Terms of the deal were not announced by Safelite or CenterOak Partners, the Dallas hedge fund that owned TruRoad. Safelite is owned by Belron, based in the United Kingdom.

In a news release, Bob Rosenfield, CEO of TruRoad Holdings, said he looked forward to working with Safelite.

“I am proud to have been the steward and leader of our family business for over 30 years,” Rosenfield said. “I look forward to this next phase for the business and for our exceptional team members under Safelite and Belron’s visionary leadership.”

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Jim Weiker

The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)

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