InterMountain Auto Glass discovers a market niche with RV windshield repair and installation

zkyle@idahostatesman.comJuly 30, 2013 

Rick Valentine has handled too many windshields to count since opening InterMountain Auto Glass in 1995.

The Garden City business repaired or replaced more than 6,000 windshields in 2012, many on RVs, the company’s specialty.

What started as a two-man operation with Valentine and original co-owner Mark Kirkland has turned into an 11-employee enterprise with a family feel. Valentine’s wife, brother and father all work for the company. InterMountain has moved three times during the years. The company bought its current building at 4860 W. Chinden Blvd. a year ago.

Valentine, 44, became the sole owner in 2003. Here’s what he had to say about turning auto glasswork into a career.

Q: What are the nuts and bolts about the business?

A: Our emphasis is on motor-home windshield replacements, but we also do all types of automotive glass, including cars and trucks.

Q: How much competition do you face?

A: Not much competition when it comes to motor homes. Most glass shops do not like to deal with them due to the size of the glass and technical difficulty. We actually enjoy working on motor-home glass. It keeps things interesting.

Q: What was the business’s revenue and profit for 2012? Are those numbers up or down compared to years past?

A: We prefer not to disclose sales figures, but our business is up about 90 percent over what it was five years ago.

Q: From an outsider’s perspective, your business seems to have a narrow focus. What are the pros and cons of operating a niche business?

A: I do not necessarily consider us as having a narrow focus. I prefer to look at (RV glass work) as an additional service we offer in a field that not too many shops want to get into. We still do auto glass on passenger vehicles along with our focus on motor-home windshield replacements.

Q: The ups and downs of the economy affect some businesses more than others. How did InterMountain fare over the last six years?

A: The last six years have been tough on all small businesses. With increased health care costs and gas prices, we have had to make adjustments to our business side of things and learned to be more efficient. We have also focused on training and safety the last few years with all of our technicians. We (joined) the Auto Glass Safety Council, and last year we sent three technicians to Louisville, Ky., to participate in the national windshield olympics. We are totally focused on safety and training to make sure that we are doing things correctly.

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Zach Kyle: 377-6464

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