WOODS CROSS -- The second time was the charm for Brandon Rene, who will soon be heading to Spain to represent the United States in a unique competition.
Rene, 33, of Woods Cross, won Safelite AutoGlass's nationwide competition, featuring the top vehicle-glass technicians, repair specialists and customer service representatives from the United States.
Not only did Rene earn $10,000, but now he gets to compete in Safelite parent company Belron's international competition, the Best of Belron, scheduled for May 23-24 in Barcelona.
"The national competition was tough," Rene said. "All of the other 11 technicians are very skilled, and I can honestly say that any of them could have won and done a great job representing Safelite in Barcelona."
The winner of that international competition, which will have participants from 32 countries, receives a year's salary.
Rene, the defending champion of Safelite's Northwest Division, competed in the national championships two years ago, but finished fifth. Prior to the competition, held Feb. 8 in New Orleans, Rene said he felt better-prepared this time around.
During the competition, contestants were judged and timed during a series of situations, including a rock chip repair, replacing the glass window in a side door, removing and installing the back window glass and replacing a windshield.
They also were judged on their customer service skills.
"I just got lucky," Rene said. "I'm kind of sad that it's over, because I've become friends with all 11 of these guys."
Rene has worked as a technician in the Salt Lake City area for 15 years, spending the past 12 years at the Safelite Auto Glass store at 280 W. 500 South, Salt Lake City.
At the recent national competition he might have had some good luck. His wife, Melissa, who took time off from school to come to the competition and traveled with him to New Orleans, celebrated her birthday the day of the competition.
"My wife is also in the automotive industry, and she quizzes me all the time," Rene said. "We kicked it up a notch this year. She's by far my biggest supporter. I don't think I would have been back here had it not been for her."
Rene plans to donate a portion of his winnings to the Safelite AutoGlass Foundation. He has been on the company's fundraising triathlon team in the past and said he really appreciates the value of the charity.
"It's such a great organization and a very well-deserving charity," Rene said. "It's only fair that I give back."