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Landon Miller repairs and replaces car windshields for a living. And now the technician has repaired and replaced windshields as part of a unique industry competition.
Miller is the shop foreman at Speedy Glass in Kindersley. He travelled to Winnipeg in October to compete in a regional qualifier against three other technicians as part of the Best of Belron. Miller finished third at the event.
The Best of Belron is an international competition held every two years. Regional and national competitions take place in the two years leading up to Best of Belron to determine the technicians who will represent their countries at the event. The next Best of Belron takes place in Frankfurt, Germany, in June 2018.
Miller said the competition is open to any technicians within the Belron group of companies. Belron is the world’s leading vehicle glass repair and replacement group. It operaties in more than 30 countries over five continents, according to its website.
The local technician said Belron owns subsidiaries such as Speedy Glass and Apple Auto Glass, among several others.
The regional event in Winnipeg took place on Oct. 24 and it was Miller’s first time competing.
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Miller flew to Winnipeg on Oct. 23 and returned home on Oct. 25, so he said the experience was a bit of a whirlwind. The competition is done in two parts and the technicians are under the watchful eye of judges from Belron. The technicians must repair a stone chip in a windshield and then do a complete replacement.
The regional competition was held at a large distribution warehouse in Winnipeg. Miller said four identical vehicles were arranged in an X pattern facing each other in the makeshift viewing arena. The vehicle used for the competition was a 2017 Hyundai Sonata.
While it was the first time Miller had entered the Best of Belron competition, the event in Winnipeg was not the only time he was under the microscope of a Belron expert. Miller had to travel to Saskatoon to be assessed for the competition, and then a mock competition was set up at the shop in Kindersley.
People were invited to the shop on Oct. 16 to watch Miller do a windshield repair and replacement. Gary Salkus of Belron, the regional director for Western Canada, acted as a judge and provided commentary as Miller worked.
The mock event was set up the same as the regional competition to give Miller an idea of what to expect. Salkus even brought a 2017 Hyundai Sonata for the practice session to replicate every aspect of the competition. Technicians have 30 minutes to complete all steps of the chip repair and 65 minutes to complete all steps of the replacement.
Miller said the regional qualifier went really well and he was pleased to finish third. He qualified at the assessment in Saskatoon, and only the four top registrants from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan get past the assessment stage.
The winner of the regional competition moves on to face four other regional winners, plus the highest scoring technician who placed second at a regional qualifier during the national competition. He said would like to try again in two years but it was an accomplishment to be in Winnipeg.
“We were four out of the top 20 installers in the country,” he said. He’s pleased with his performance but said he lost points because he missed a couple of items and he did a couple of steps out of order.
Out of the four finalists, he said he was the only technician without experience in the competition and the only one who had never competed at a regional qualifier. Two finalists have gone on to achieve success during other levels of the competition.
The local technician said the mock event at the shop helped him to prepare for Winnipeg. He likened the experience to a sport. He said doing the work on a normal day without any people watching is a preseason game while the mock event was a regular season game and the regional competition was a playoff game of sorts.
He noted that the judges are Belron’s technical experts who travel across Canada to train technicians and showcase tools of the trade. Miller said he finished the stone chip repair in 24 minutes and the full replacement in 53 minutes.
The technician said Belron was having management meetings in Winnipeg at the time and one of his greatest takeaways from the competition was getting to meet senior executives and other company officials. He said he got to meet the president and vice-president of Belron International.
Miller said he wanted to thank the staff in Kindersley because they made it possible for him to attend the competition.
“It is an opportunity to show the rest of your industry the best you can do,” he said of the competition, adding the technicians take a lot of pride in the work. “I wanted a chance to see where I stacked up against some of the other guys in the country.”