Get to know…James MacBeth, Auto Windscreens
Modern Insurance Magazine sits with James MacBeth, Managing Director, Auto Windscreens, for a chat about the insurance industry.
Tell us about your role at your firm. What do you do, and what do you find most interesting about it?
I’m the Managing Director of Auto Windscreens, which in my view, is one of the best places to work in the UK. My goal is to ensure our insurance partners and their customers are well looked after during a distress purchase.
My role is interesting because every day is different. I work across all departments and with fantastic colleagues. It’s exciting to see people coming through the business, some from apprenticeships, and watching the team develop in their roles.
What are the challenges facing your business right now, and how are you working to overcome them?
The hottest topic at the moment has to be the cost of living and inflation, which is having an impact across all businesses, including Auto Windscreens. We’re passionate about our Environmental Social and Governance strategy, and a big part of it is saving energy to reduce costs and remain competitive in the marketplace.
Another challenge is recruitment. Like other industries, we’re seeing a lack of candidates, particularly for our technician roles, because we’re targeting quite a small pool of talent. We’ve always invested heavily in our apprenticeship programme and developing this next generation is key for our business. We’re also continuing to focus on retaining existing technicians, making sure skills are constantly updated in our dedicated Training Academy.
If you could go back to the start of your professional career, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?
I’d tell myself “If you work hard and put your mind to it, you can achieve anything”. I come from a small town in the Scottish Highlands, and never anticipated being in this position when I started out as a trainee technician for Auto Windscreens 30 years ago. I still maintain my Dad’s philosophy from when I began my career, which has stood me in good stead. He said: “work hard, commit yourself, learn through others and never change who you are”.
What would be your prediction for the industry in 2022 and beyond?
The market has changed quickly as technology moves us closer to fully-autonomous vehicles. Windscreens are generally getting bigger and more complicated, as they’re fitted with a lot of new technology and claims are becoming more expensive. There are almost 32m cars on the UK’s roads (racfoundation.org) and I predict this will continue to rise despite the increasing costs of owning and running a car. Due to all this, I see the demand for our services increasing. There will always be a need for windscreens, chips and cracks will continue to happen because they’ll still be affected by weather, vandalism, break-ins and stones, and repairs and replacements will always be required.
What made you want to work in this industry?
I’ve always been interested in how mechanical things work – I worked for my Dad, who was a boatbuilder. I was given the opportunity to work at Auto Windscreens in 1992 by a friend and have never looked back since.
Thus far, what has been your most significant or proudest achievement in your current or previous roles?
I’ve had lots of significant moments in my career, but the highlight has to be becoming the Managing Director over three years ago of such a great brand and established business. I’m proud to lead and be part of a strong management team at Auto Windscreens and of growing the businesses year on year.
How would you like to see the insurance industry improved next year / 5 years / by the time you retire?
I think there needs to more awareness in the industry of how complex automotive glass has become and the safety implications this has. I’d like to see suppliers like us build relationships with our competitors, as we have unique opportunities to learn from each other, for the benefit of the insurance industry. Times are changing, and we all need to adapt and work together to make the most of the opportunities ahead.
Read more articles from Modern Insurance Magazine here