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The Wide World of Employee Sports

With $10,000 of prize money in hand, Safelite's U.S. victor, Brandon Rene of Salt Lake City, will now head to Barcelona in May to challenge representatives of other nations. If he's successful, he'll pocket a year's salary as an award.

Metzger says Rene is no rookie when it comes to the world of competitive glass repair. He placed fifth in the nationals last year and "felt like had something to prove by coming back his year."

This year in New Orleans, the 12 combatants took their place around a circular stage. The various tools they might need that day were placed in the center of the round playing field.

"We want them all to be able to grab their part and their tools in the same amount of time so that nobody has an advantage," Metzger says. "Glass replacement can differ by the make and model, so they all have the same car. There are four elements. They do a windshield repair, a windshield replacement, a side glass replacement and a back glass replacement. They all start at the same time and there is a time limit, but it is not a race."

"Windshield repair and replacement is a lot more exciting than people realize," Metzger says. "We've got some innovative tools that we've introduced into the market that have really revolutionized the way a windshield is replaced. It's really interesting to see that in action during this event, and it takes special training to use them. These technicians may be some of the first within our company that are trained to use these new tools" -- among them Ezi-Wire, a tool for removing glass, and the 1-Tech, a lifting tool to grip and place glass.

The challenge isn't all fun and games. Safelite uses the events to spotlight the technicians who are "the face of our company and the ones interacting with our customers," educate other technicians and build relationships with insurance partners and other vendors.

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