A Fast Forward and a Slow Rewind

Here’s a riddle for you: What do autonomous vehicles and Woodstock have in common? Stumped? Okay read on and it will all make sense.

Let me preface revealing the answer by saying that, when I can, I like to get up really early on Sunday mornings and write my blog for Monday. It’s quiet … it’s just me and the cardinals feasting at the bird feeder … and I don’t feel rushed in writing it. For me, choosing the topic and writing the first sentence are always the hardest part, and the rest just flows. Except this Sunday morning, I am extremely agitated with myself because I have not yet settled on a topic.

I have already decided to hold a very technical topic for next week, since I want to do some further research around it. I grab a second cup of coffee as I volley between two remaining possibilities. Then I decided to not decide and to let them share the blog. So here goes.

The Fast Forward
Last month I had the pleasure of writing a feature for our sister publication Auto Glass Repair & Replacement (AGRR) magazine about the future of consumer transportation, including generational and technological changes such as autonomous vehicles. The coming changes will bring that part of the glass industry rapid, systemic change and disruption. It will also affect those parts of the architectural glass industry that deal directly with the consumer. There are major changes coming to your retail customer of the future, how you reach them and how they reach you. (If you are interested, you can read the whole article here. (If you would prefer, just email me at and I’d be happy to send you a PDF of just the article as well.)

Consider this: Both KPMG and the University of Michigan have recently released studies that say the introduction of autonomous vehicles will result in a 43% reduction in private vehicle ownership by 2030. They expect new car sales in urban areas to fall by 50%. Another study by RethinkX (RTX), a tech think tank led by Stanford’s Tony Seba, predicts private car ownership will drop a breathtaking 80% by 2030—to 44 million cars from 247 million.

In short: imagine a future in which your customers no longer own their cars. Big Box stores are already beginning to grapple with this emerging reality. Glass retailers should, too. Online purchasing and delivery, even of framed mirrors, will become even more important. The importance of a retail showroom will decrease while the need for an online one will increase.

Savvy company owners are beginning to adapt now. You can read how auto glass companies are beginning to adapt in the article. Retailers would be well advised to think about their consumer markets of the future.

And the Slow Rewind

I assume you’ve guessed my second topic by now and solved my paltry attempt at a riddle. Yes, it was the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, which has been all over the news this weekend. I am searching for any of our readers who were there. I think it would be neat to get your perspective all these years later. So please email me if you were one in the half million.

I have my own Woodstock memory. No, I wasn’t there. I wasn’t even out of grammar school yet. But I do remember that weekend because my parents were scheduled to be out both Friday and Saturday evenings. My sister and I didn’t mind this because a) my parents always let us have hamburgers and French fries from this new place called “McDonalds” when they went out, and b) our favorite babysitter, 16-year old Susie Kaley, was to watch us both nights.

On Friday night, a mere seconds after my parents pulled out of the driveway, Susie turned to us and became more animated than I’d ever seen her. “Have you heard about it, have you heard about it?” she shrieked. She then proceeded to explain that there was this giant concert going on about three hours away and that “the whole world is there”—except for her. She then turned on the radio to listen to news of the “concert.”

Usually, Patti and I played games with Susie all night long, but that was not to be on this hot August night. Instead, Susie spent most of the time on the phone crying to her friends that she wasn’t at this concert and fighting with her parents because they wouldn’t let her go.

I chalked it up to an off night for her, and told myself Susie would be back to normal the next night. I told myself that all the way until the next evening when Susie’s sister showed up to babysit instead. “Uh … Susie sort of ran away,” she said, “but we know where she is and we are pretty sure she’ll be back, so I am her substitute.”

Yup, Susie Kaley had ditched the Kopf sisters for Woodstock. It took me a few years to realize what a smart move that had been. Well played, Ms. Kaley, well played.