Tire dealers who put on the gloves are, in fact, itching for a fight.
That is, they're fighting to upgrade their store's image and improve employee loyalty and morale, and are doing this with rubber work gloves costing pennies apiece.
In my last column, I described how progressive service shop owners are outfitting their service personnel with disposable rubber work gloves. Doing so reduces the risk of workers leaving grease prints on customers' vehicles or on doors, walls and paperwork around the dealership.
It also boosts morale by improving the condition of automotive technicians' hands.
This time, I'll discuss the kinds of gloves available and where you can source them.
Almost 20 years ago, the first automotive repair people I saw using work gloves were buying the product from medical or industrial equipment suppliers. Usually, they stumbled onto the gloves through customers who happened to work for these suppliers.
If your dealership already is well connected with a medical or industrial supplier, you may not find better information or a better buy on work gloves.
Most auto parts suppliers also are offering rubber work gloves. Furthermore, a major glove supplier, Microflex, has a web site you can visit—www.microflex.com—for additional information.
Another popular glove company, Ammex, can be reached at www.ammex.com.
First of all, remember that we're talking about single-use kinds of gloves: Use 'em once and then discard them.
Second, gloves are usually sold 100 per box and each box resembles a common facial tissue box in shape and size. A "case" order probably means 10 of these boxes per case. Don't worry about having to match up a pair of gloves because these gloves are ambidextrous.
Third, glove material is probably within the range of 4-6 mils thick but thicker ones are available. You can even get gloves with textured fingertips that improve gripping ability when the gloves are oily or greasy.
My experience has been that I can pick up all but the smallest washers and clips with non-textured gloves even though the gloves are slippery with grease or oil. My advice? Experiment with different types until your techs are satisfied.
Fourth, gloves are available with and without a light powder coating inside them. Experience shows the powder doesn't affect gripping power, but it does make it substantially easier to put the gloves on quickly without tearing them.
Donning powderless rubber work gloves in the dry winter air is easy. But it's difficult—if not impossible—to put on gloves when your hands are dripping from summertime heat and humidity.
Although it's very unlikely that the powder would irritate a tech's hands, be aware that some people claim they can't stand the feel of the powder.
Fifth, the overwhelming majority of gloves sold to the auto repair industry are either latex or nitrile. Without getting into a major chemistry dissertation, I can make two helpful generalizations about these materials.
Latex, which is natural rubber, is extremely popular because it's less expensive than nitrile. However, some people are allergic to latex. Sometimes the only way you learn who's allergic and who isn't is to try out latex gloves.
If they irritate someone's skin, switch to nitrile, which contains no natural rubber and has a good track record for non-irritability.
What's more, latex usually doesn't withstand common automotive cleaning solvents as well as nitrile does. Some solvents cause latex to soften up, swell and tear easily.
In all fairness to latex, I've found that if you work fairly quickly, it may withstand the solvent just long enough for you to complete your task without glove failure occurring.
I've seen powdered latex work gloves as cheap as $2.95 per box, nitrile as cheap as $5.45 per box when you buy a case of 10 boxes.
My advice is to start out with the basic powdered latex gloves and see how your techs like them. Then upgrade as needed.