COLUMBUS, OHIO – One of the industry’s largest operations integration has been completed in less than nine months, and the Belron US team is hiring additional technicians, expanding training opportunities and enhancing its branding efforts.

Belron Inc. acquired Safelite Group in early 2007, bringing together the Auto Glass Specialists, Elite Auto Glass, Glaspro, Safelite AutoGlass and Windshield Pros brands as well as nearly 6,500 employees across the country. As the year draws to a close, the company has already boosted its technician force — growing to 7,100 employees — and fully integrated its complex point of sale and supply chain systems to serve more than three million customers annually.

“Integration is hard work and represents change for everyone in the organization,” said Rich Harrison, senior vice president and chief operations officer of Belron US. “We exceeded our initial objectives in terms of efficiencies gained on the operations side, and in sales retention and growth in our key overlap markets, where Safelite and Belron Inc. facilities merged.”

Harrison said the foundation set by the systems integration has the company poised for additional growth in 2008 and for further implementation of parent company Belron’s best practices in training and marketing.

“We are set to grow profitably across all our U.S. markets,” Harrison said. “Our strong infrastructure will support our focus on additional customer service training and brand building in 2008.”

A key to the smooth change over of major systems, Harrison said, was the ability of the transition team to use feedback from field offices to adjust details of the integration along the way. For instance, key associates from the Belron side of the acquisition took time out to travel to Enfield, N.C. to tour the Safelite manufacturing plant to become familiar with the specific capabilities of this aspect of the supply chain.

“Integrations are all about the people who make it work,” said Harrison. “It’s the little decisions you make over time that make everyone comfortable with the changes in their everyday routines and responsibilities. We continue to learn from our associates about how we can better serve our customers and our own associates.”

Originally posted on Fleet Financials