Customer Connections and Safety: Brian Whittaker’s Ideal Combo

June 18, 2024

Brian Whittaker has been an auto glass technician for more than 15 years, and he has consistently encountered one dilemma.

The Auto Glass Safety Council (AGSC) certified technician works at Glass America in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and prides himself on doing things the right way. He takes no shortcuts and works to uphold the highest ethical standards.

His commitment to safety creates a dilemma, though. You see, Whittaker is a die-hard Washington Commanders fan, and, like any good football fan, he can’t resist teasing fans of other teams about their choice. That’s why the customer who came in with a Dallas Cowboys sticker on his vehicle was especially tough for him.

“As I did my introduction, I said, ‘I am sorry, but I can’t work on your car due to the trash on your car,’ and pointed to the sticker with a smile,” Whittaker says. “The customer replied, ‘You must be a [Washington] fan.’ He ended up sitting outside [with me] during the whole process, and we talked about the upcoming season.”

Brian Whittaker is an Auto Glass Safety Council certified technician at Glass America in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He prides himself on doing things the right way.

Whittaker discovered that interactions like this help him bond with customers.

“I would start using this tactic or looking for some other connection to the customers so they would feel more at ease while I was a stranger taking their car apart,” he says. “Most people are responsive when you show an interest in something they are interested in as well. This makes the whole process easier for everyone.”

Whittaker has a hearing disability, which he has found also connects him with customers.

“Having a hearing disability is a plus sometimes,” Whittaker says. “I have had customers I could not understand, and I would have to explain my situation. This also has acted as a connection to the customer since most people either know someone with a disability or have a disability themselves.”

Whittaker knows sign language, enabling him to communicate with deaf customers who use sign language exclusively.

“They are ecstatic to find someone else they could talk to without the use of paper and pen or other means,” he says.

One of Whittaker’s recent customers reports that he did a great job connecting with her. Sarah Bauder, who is part of the team at Key Media & Research responsible for organizing Auto Glass Week™, recently experienced a cracked windshield.

Though Bauder is more knowledgeable about the industry of auto glass replacement than most customers, this was the first time she needed her own windshield replaced. She said Whittaker was personable from the moment the shop manager, David Curtis, introduced her to him.

“He went into the story of his day and the things he was going through recently, and he was making that connection, so it felt like making a friend instead of doing a business transaction,” Bauder says.

Before entering the auto glass business, Whittaker worked in construction with his family. He decided that construction didn’t provide him with the consistent work and income stability he wanted, and a friend he’d grown up with recruited him into the business.

“He was like, ‘Come over here, everybody needs windshields,’” Whittaker says.

Brian Whittaker began his auto glass career alongside that friend before arriving at Glass America a little over two years ago. He has had many highlights in his career so far, including meeting four current or former NFL players from his favorite team, the Washington Commanders.

Whittaker began his auto glass career alongside that friend before arriving at Glass America a little over two years ago. He has had many highlights in his career so far, from meeting four current or former NFL players from his favorite team in the course of his job to working on the windows of rare vehicles. Whittaker has done replacements for former Commanders players Jarvis Jenkins, Vernon Davis, Rocky McIntosh and Darryl Grant. Being an avid fan, he got autographs from all but McIntosh. He will never forgive himself for not recognizing McIntosh until after the fact.

Whittaker has also worked on a 1989 Ferrari Testarossa and a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG with butterfly doors.

“The parts for both of these cars were scarce and very expensive, but I was the technician who was trusted to do the job,” Whittaker says. “It means a lot to me that my managers trust me to do these.”

In addition to connecting with his customers on a personal level, Whittaker wants to make sure he does his job correctly to keep them safe. He says his AGSC training and certification hold him and his work to a high safety standard.

“If it’s not up to the standards that it needs to be, it can cause issues,” he says. “The windshield can fall out, it’s unsafe for the customer while driving, and things like that.”

Whittaker’s commitment to safety mirrors that of his employer. Glass America is an AGSC Registered Member Company and requires all of its technicians to be AGSC certified.

“I feel there is no better way to gain your customer’s trust than to have your AGSC technician certification,” says Glass America regional vice president Rob Price. “All of our technicians are certified with the AGSC, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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