Different Standards of Glass: Domestic vs. Foreign
Windshield Surgeons Auto Glass and affiliated Arnolds Windshield Distributors are among Canada's largest automotive glass suppliers, distributing tens of thousands of windshields and other glass parts each year.
The glass we distribute is sourced primarily from 3 suppliers through exclusive or semi-exclusive purchasing agreements. Each are OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) producers and have the quality standards to prove it. While most OEM glass producers reserve their "OEM" stamps for car companies, purchasing glass from these suppliers means we can give you the same windshields off the same production lines. It is a perfect way to obtain OEM quality without the OEM price tag.
These agreements mean that us, and our clients, are able to offer you the highest quality glass at unbeatable prices.
Domestic Vs. Foreign
Years ago, there was a clear divide in glass quality based on where is was produced. Mature North American and European glass producers actually made their glass domestically and glass sourced from other countries (or "Chinese Glass") was made by smaller organizations - frequently at a lower standard.
However, the glass industry is no exception to the process of globalization. North American producers have outsourced much of their production to various countries around the globe - yes, including China. The most technologically advanced factories are usually no longer located in North America.
A prime example of this is PGW (formerly PPG) which is not only one of our suppliers but is also the largest OEM supplier in North America. Here is an excerpt from their website describing where their glass comes from (link included):
"glass manufacturing and assembly operations in North America, Europe and Asia" - http://www.pgwglass.com/ourcompany/Pages/default.aspx
When purchasing from PGW (or similar), many smaller glass shops will tell customers they are installing "North American glass." While there is a chance that they are not aware of the distinction, this statement is false. Just because glass is purchased from a North American company, does not mean it was produced here - or that it is any good.
The fact is, to our knowledge, there is no major automotive glass supplier that still exclusively sells glass produced inside North America. This includes automotive manufacturers or "dealership glass".
Many companies do little to dispel the notion that because they are a North American company, they must get their glass domestically. Some, such as Ford (Carlite), do a lot to make it sound like their glass is exclusively domestic even though that isn't true.
What matters for quality is not "where" but rather "who" it is purchased from. Is it from a reputable major world supplier with OEM quality standards? Also, just as importantly, is it being installed by trained technicians who know how to protect you and your vehicle?
What does this mean to me as a consumer?
It is good news! You don't have to purchase glass from dealerships with price tags in the thousands in order to obtain quality glass.
Don't allow scare tactics of any independent glass shop, or outdated mentality, deter you from receiving quality glass and quality service for a fair price. Purchase from a reputable company who is not afraid to discuss their glass, and has a warranty to back quality, and you will save yourself both effort and expense.
You can have confidence that any glass installed by Windshield Surgeons Auto Glass meets or exceeds OEM standards and that it will be done with all the proper procedures that are often overlooked by other shops. For more information surrounding proper installation and the products required for a quality installation, see: http://www.windshieldsurgeons.com/qualityandsafety
As a point of interest, here is a diagram from ONE of our suppliers listing who they produce OEM glass for:
While not all production agreements are public, here is the list of the automotive manufacturers that we know our suppliers produce OEM glass for (as of August 2016):
Ford, General Motors (GM), Jeep, Chevrolet, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda, Buick, Fiat, Hyundai, Mazda, Land Rover, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, BMW, Opel, Dodge, Chrysler, Peugeot, CAT, Cadillac, Bently, Volkswagen, TATA, Audi, Suzuki, Izuzu, Volvo, Porsche, Citroen, and many more brands across the globe.