Looking at the world through a windshield

Debris, from pebbles to wildlife, lurk to spoil the view

by Peter Corbett

Bus and motorcoach operators face an unlimited number of road hazards every day—everything from potholes to tire-strip alligators and 1,100-pound elk rambling across highways at dusk.

But it can also come down to something as small as a marble-sized rock pinging into a bus windshield to create a bullseye or spider crack across the laminated glass. Those millions of hazards, small and large, keep Translite Enterprises of Elizabeth, New Jersey, busy supplying, packaging and shipping windshields and other glass for motorcoaches and school and transit buses.

“We do everything for our customers,” Translite spokeswoman Melissa Castellano said. “We’re like their one-stop shop.”

Translite finds the correct windshield or other window glass, carefully packages it and delivers it with a goal of same-day or next-day delivery. The company also works with a network of installers across the country for installation.

Translite has a 99 percent success rate in delivering glass to installers without any breakage or damage, said Castellano, adding that careful packaging keeps the glass intact.

The expedited shipment and installation helps bus and motorcoach operators get their vehicles back on the road and generating revenue.

In business since 1993, Translite is seeing steady growth as an important part of the supply chain of windshields and glass for the transportation industry. The company is outgrowing its nearly 20,000 square feet of warehouse space and is looking to add another 10,000 square feet, Castellano said.

Translite’s inventory includes windshields, door and window glass and rear and driver windows. That includes glass for school buses, tour and charter buses and transit buses. Translite also has specialty windshields for heads-up displays and rain sensors that automatically detect moisture and activate the windshield wipers.

Not all windshield stars, bullseyes and dings require replacement. Some chips, usually those smaller than a half dollar, can be repaired with an epoxy or acrylic filler.

But many of the larger bus and motorcoach operators opt to replace damaged windshields since even small chips can spread. Operators want to keep their buses safe and be able to pass Department of Transportation inspections, Castellano said.

As for larger road hazards, Castellano said she has not heard of Translite customers hitting deer or elk, but she’s heard stories of buses hitting wild turkeys. Those strikes destroy windshields.

But it’s nothing like what happened last summer to country music star Dustin Lynch. He and his band members woke up on an overnight trip when their tour bus hit a deer. Nobody on the bus was injured, but the deer didn’t survive, and the windshield had to be replaced.

That’s not uncommon. Federal highway officials estimate that there are up to two million crashes annually caused by vehicles striking wildlife.


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