The assets of AEGIS Tools International, Inc. have been sold to Wood’s Powr-Grip Co., Inc. (WPG) of Laurel, Montana, effective July 11, 2022. AEGIS owners Robert and Caryn Birkhauser called the development a “natural progression” in a relationship with Wood’s that dates back to their company’s inception.
“Out of the gate, we used Wood’s as a source for suction cups for our windshield repair equipment,” Robert says. “We have since designed many tools using their suction cups as an attachment base. So, they’ve been a business partner of ours since 1982; we go way back with them. It seemed a natural fit for them to expand into the automotive glass arena with our customer base.”
Wood’s shares that sentiment and expressed the company’s excitement and well-wishes to the retiring couple in a news release.
“There could not have been a better fit for both AEGIS and Wood’s Powr-Grip,” says Bryan Wood, WPG president and CEO in the release. “AEGIS specialties are custom-configured windshield repair kits, and tools to make auto glass installations safer and more efficient. Wood’s Powr-Grip manufactures vacuum cups that also make glass and other material handling and installations safer and more efficient.
“We wish Robert and Caryn a happy retirement and we look forward to building on the success of the AEGIS brand for many years to come.”
Robert began his career in the auto glass industry at a young age, sweeping the warehouse floors of his parents’ company, Auto Glass Specialists, Inc. He eventually became president and CEO of the company. In the early 1980s, Robert invented and patented the AEGIS Windshield Repair System for repairing small damage in windshields.
“It was enjoyable working with family,” Robert says of the factors that kept him in the industry for the entirety of his career. “My father was pretty disciplined and made me go through all the steps of the business, so I saw everything from sweeping the warehouse to accounting, and actually doing installation work way back when. I enjoyed it and we had good people around us; we had a good team and that made it fun to get up in the morning and go to work.”
Over the years, Auto Glass Specialists grew to be a 60-store chain with 300 employees. Known for its nickname, “The Guys in the Little Red Trucks,” Robert sold the company in 2005 but kept the AEGIS Tools division. Caryn joins him in retirement, with the couple moving on to new adventures after decades of success in the industry.
“Caryn said she wasn’t ready for every day to be Saturday so we kept AEGIS,” Robert says. “But going forward, we have a lot of things we like to do that are non-auto glass industry related. We like to go on music cruises and we also like to travel both in the U.S. and internationally. It was just time to do more of that.”
The couple is excited to spend more time with their three children after retirement. At the same time, they’re going to miss the team at AEGIS.
“It’s hard to part company with some of those folks,” Robert says. “In fact, we’re planning a get-together after this all settles down. It’s the people; you miss the people and the customers. We have great customers all over the world.”
It was that service to customers and the industry as a whole that saw Robert become a founding member of the AGSC, which developed the AGRSS Standard for the safe installation of windshields. He said that at the time, installation mistakes were happening more frequently in the industry, especially when taking into consideration the increased complexity of those installations. It’s one aspect of his career of which he is most proud, alongside receiving the Carl F. Thompkins award in 2010, AGSC’s highest honor.
“You always have good colleagues in the industry and a number of them felt the same way,” Robert says. “We banded together and I used my company resources and people, and we contributed our ISO work procedures we give to our technicians as a blank slate for the rest of the group to build on. It started there and the committee ran with it.”