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SB1331 Would Drive Award-Winning Company Out of Arizona; Leave 700+ Without Jobs

Safelite®, the National Leader in the Vehicle Glass Industry, Was Recruited to Chandler Less Than Two Years Ago by City and Regional Economic Development Agencies; Won Chandler Chamber's Highest Award in 2011

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CHANDLER, Ariz., Feb. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- An award-wining company with hundreds of employees in Arizona will be forced to cease operations in Arizona if the Legislature enacts a bill under consideration at the Capitol.

SB1331, sponsored by Sen. John McComish, and co-sponsored by Representatives Jeff Dial and Bob Robson, will force Safelite® AutoGlass® to close its contact center operations in Arizona and would eliminate more than 700 jobs. This comes even when, less than two years ago, state, regional, and local economic development agencies worked to attract Safelite®'s contact center to Arizona. Last year, the company was awarded the Chandler Cup by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, honoring its commitment to the community and excellence in operations and standards.

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Thursday. The committee is chaired by Senator McComish, who has opted to hear the job-killing bill in a special, standalone hearing.

"The effects of SB1331 are plain and simple: it's a job killer. This bill is a direct attack on a single company in a single industry operating successfully in the free marketplace," said Brian O'Mara, Vice President of National Contact Center Operations at Safelite®. "We currently employ 581 people at the Chandler Contact Center, with this number expanding to over 700 during peak seasons. Including our other operations, Safelite® employs over 800 people statewide. Further, we are currently holding a $3.5 million expansion project that would increase our contact center's employee base by hundreds. These are all new jobs that Safelite® is working to bring to Chandler."

As the nation's largest provider of vehicle glass repair and replacement services, Safelite®'s sister company Safelite® Solutions is entrusted to provide third-party administrator services on behalf of more than 100 insurance companies. SB1331, would prohibit a company engaged in the repair and replacement of auto glass to act a third party administrator for auto glass claims. Safelite® is the only company that does this in Arizona, and would be the only company affected by SB1331, if it passes. Safelite® operates lawfully under this business model in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

Safelite® employs nearly 10,000 people throughout the United States, with a significant footprint in Arizona. Following efforts by the Arizona Department of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and Chandler's economic development department to lure the company to Chandler, Safelite® opened a major contact center in 2010, and currently employs 581 at the facility, with another 200+ seasonal jobs at the center during peak months. Plans for expansion and the addition of 400 new jobs, a $3.5 million dollar project, are now on hold due to the proposed legislation.

When the company announced plans to open the contact center in April 2010, then-Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn said: "Given the current economy, it's more important than ever to bring jobs to Chandler. We're thrilled to have Safelite® locate in our community and even more excited that our residents will have an immediate opportunity to apply for jobs."

An official from the Greater Phoenix Economic Council also praised the company on the occasion of the announcement.

Beyond the corporate contact center, Safelite® has an additional 22 locations in Arizona: 3 supercenters (retail store and warehouse facility), 11 retail stores, and 8 mobile pro locations. Safelite® employs an additional 280 Arizona residents at these locations. Beyond its more direct operations, 284 independently owned and operated glass shops across Arizona participate in Safelite®'s network, employing hundreds more Arizona residents.

In meeting the needs of consumers, Safelite® has assisted 1,455,490 Arizona residents with vehicle glass claims from 2008 to 2011, achieving an overall customer satisfaction rating of 97-98% percent.

Safelite®'s contribution to the Arizona tax base is significant. In 2011, Safelite® paid Arizona $2,953,568 in sales, payroll, use, real estate, and personal property taxes.

Safelite® generates a significant amount of economic activity through its vendors, doing business with approximately 947 Arizona-based companies. 

Here are some other odd facts about SB1331:  

  • Nearly 600 Safelite® employees work year-round in the Chandler contact center, with this number expanding to over 700 during peak seasons. These jobs are actually located IN the district represented by McComish, Dial, and Robson.
  • SB1331 is not only a job killer, but a business attraction reputation killer. Recruited by Arizona's economic development professionals just two years ago to bring its contact center and hundreds of quality jobs to Arizona, the legislation would force Safelite® to close the facility and eliminate the jobs just as Arizona and its new Arizona Commerce Authority seek to intensify state and local business efforts.
  • Consumers also lose if SB1331 passes. Safelite®'s business model and operations in Arizona have been recognized by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), an organization which partners with insurers and law enforcement agencies to facilitate the identification, detection and prosecution of insurance criminals. Safelite® was recently chosen to be the NICB's strategic partner – and is the only company to be honored with this distinction. If enacted, SB1331 will reduce consumer choices and impact insurance premiums.
  • Further, SB1331 is unconstitutional, as it violates established rights of commercial free speech and commerce. If passed, Arizona will be the only state with such a law, while Safelite® will continue to operate under its current and highly successful business model in 49 other states and the District of Columbia.

 

"Our employees (myself included) are terrified that they are going to lose their jobs if this legislation passes," said Tyler Teter, the Director of Operations at the Chandler contact center. "We work hard every day to make sure that we are honoring customer choice, meeting customers' needs, and are delivering the best product to the people of Arizona. I sincerely hope the legislature considers the wellbeing of over 700 families when voting on this legislation."

SOURCE Safelite AutoGlass



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