How $3.50 an Hour Made Tinter Michael Phifer Rich

July 7th, 2011 by Editor

Michael Phifer stumbled upon his career path by accident in 1985. He was getting his windshield replaced at Avenue Auto Glass in Temple, Texas when the owner asked him if he knew how to tint windows.

“When the old guy that owned the place asked me if I knew how to tint windows my famous last words were, ‘can’t be that hard,’” says Phifer.

Phifer’s initial reason for learning how to film was to make some good money.

“The reason I took the job was because minimum wage was around $2.86 at the time and they were paying $3.50 to start. I thought I was rich,” says Phifer.

Twenty-six years later Phifer is still tinting and continues to impress both customers and others within the industry.

Mark Wallach, owner of Ameritint in Arlington, Texas, describes Phifer as meticulous and claims he has never heard a bad review of Phifer tinting abilities. The two film installers refer residential or automotive work to each other and have known each other for 20 years.

“He is without a doubt the best automotive film installer I have ever known. I could tint my own cars, but I take them to him instead,” says Wallach. “He can tint a car in 20 minutes and it can be a completely perfect.”

Phifer takes pride in his skill and that he doesn’t need to rely on machines to get the job done.

“No one knows how to hand cut anymore. They rely on the machine which makes you nothing more than a monkey hanging film,” says Phifer. “There aren’t many great installers left out there. My definition of great is when you have nothing come back ever.”

Phifer does still dream big for his business and dream projects though.

“Someday it would be nice to see my shops name on the hood of a Nascar,” comments Phifer.

When Phifer isn’t busy hand-cutting film you can find him spending time with friends and family or playing in the occasional golf tournament.  

Do you know someone who is a star among window tinters? Then we want to hear from you with your nominations for “Film Stars.” E-mail your nominations to Katie Hodge at

This article is from Focus on Film, the weekly e-newsletter that covers the latest news regarding window film and related products, including paint protection film. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Window Film magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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  1. Tint a car in 20 minutes and completely perfect? Typical BS tinter nonsense and nonsense shouldn’t be published in an industry publication. It devalues your credibility.

  2. I respect a guy more when he says he can tint a car perfect in 90 minutes that some one who says 30 minutes . All experience tinters nknows whats involved in a proffesional job

  3. I agree with the first comment and Im sorry but I dont care how good you can hand cut its still better and faster to use a plotter.

  4. I actually have to agree with the post. A plotter is great and much easier to use, however if you have extensive experience doing it by hand it can actually be a lot easier.

  5. Same with carpentry.. I’d rather have an old guy who’s been doing it 40 years and is a master wood worker than some 10/hour worker who just pops everything together. It takes years to master certain trades and takes a feel that only a HUMAN HAND can feel. For example look at Amish carpenters. They use no power tools! And their work is absolutely flawless.. I’m not a tint guy but I am a carpenter so I can’t speak on that.. All I’m saying is old school techniques and hands on work is where I’d spend my money. And if he can cut it by hand and do a flawless job on tint in 20-30 minutes then that just means he truly has mastered the skill. Obviously he knows what he’s doing if he’s been doing it for 30 years… I’m just saying.

  6. Florida Tinting and Codeman, thank you very much! We all know there will be the trolls that are angry for multiple reasons. They cant hand cut, they make no money, or they are just mad in general at the world! But yes, I can do the above stated, and yes I am that good. Im coming up on 33 years now of this and I pride myself on two main things and one minor thing which are majors, customer service, if you cant be better to the customer than your grandmother, you wont go very far, and quality, my name goes on everything I touch, and thats important to me. And for the minor, SPEED! By shear repetition over all these years I have figured out just about every trick there is although still learn some here and there! Thank you both again for the positive posts! I greatly appreciate it!

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