Glass man gets second crack at national crown

Jan 18 2012 - 3:59pm

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WOODS CROSS -- Replacing windshields is an art form, and Brandon Rene is ready to show off his artistic ability.

Rene, 33, of Woods Cross, will compete in Safelite AutoGlass's nationwide competition, featuring the top vehicle-glass technicians, repair specialists and customer service representatives from the United States.

The group will gather Feb. 8 in New Orleans to show off their skills by doing a rock chip repair; replacing the glass window in a side door; removing and installing the back window glass; and replacing a windshield.

"When you're working with glass, you're an artist putting a windshield back in like it came from the factory," Rene said.

Competitors will also be judged on their customer service skills.

This will be Rene's second trip to the national championship, which is held every other year.

Rene, who won the Northwest Division competition in October in Las Vegas, finished fifth in the nationwide competition in 2010.

Rene still looks back at that competition in Orlando, Fla., and is haunted by a few memories of bad luck.

Rene remembers several cameramen moving around the vehicle on which he was replacing the glass. That was when the trouble began.

"I was applying the new adhesive to the glass, and a cameraman bumped the windshield," said Rene, who has been in the auto glass technician business for 16 years.

Rene said he also was not ready for the judges, who were instructed to try to throw the competitors "off their game" by making comments and suggestions.

"They did that to me. I didn't have a backup plan, so I stumbled a bit."

Rene hopes his experience to help him win this year.

The winner of the national competition takes home $10,000 and gets a trip to Barcelona, Spain, for the international competition. The winner of that international competition, which will have participants from 35 countries, receives a year's salary.

The second-place winner in the national competition will get $5,000 and will also go to Barcelona, just in case the first-place finisher is not able to compete.

Rene has worked the last 12 years at the Safelite Auto Glass store at 280 W. 500 South, Salt Lake City. His co-workers are excited for him and expect him to represent them well.

"He's got a really good eye for detail when it comes to the installation side of business," said Saul Rainey, the manager of the store where Rene works. "Overall, as far as quality and service, he's pretty tough to beat in the business, for sure."

This year, Rene may have good luck heading his way.

Feb. 8 is also the birthday of his wife, Melissa, and he is taking that as a good sign. After all, a $10,000 check and a free trip to Barcelona would be a great gift to give his wife, he said.

"That's what I'm going for."

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