Industry Responds to Solutia’s Acquisition of Southwall TechnologiesOctober 20th, 2011 by Editor
The window film industry has been talking about the implications of Solutia’s acquisition of Southwall Technologies. Solutia will gain Southwall’s XIR® Technology, used in VKool films and all of the company’s manufacturing capabilities for window film production. Solutia will also now be offering a new product where film is “encapsulated between Saflex® polyvinyl butyral interlayers to form a protective barrier in laminated glass against the harmful effects of the sun.”
“Solutia has shown that they are interested in what they can do globally,” says John Rodie, co-owner of Film South Inc. in Central Georgia and Alabama and a Solutia dealer. “If you talk to any installer they will tell you that their residential work has gone down dramatically over the last few years. With my impression of Southwall I don’t expect a dramatic change. If the economy comes back and Solutia incorporates Southwall’s products into their product line I can see some positive things. Hopefully, some of the new technologies will help the film industry. It has not been something they broadcasted to dealers though.”
Some dealers are not clear on the goals associated with the acquisition other than Solutia’s continued corporate growth.
“I don’t know a lot about Southwall, but they did send us out an email about the agreement,” says Tim VanDeusen, owner of Pro-Film Window Tinting in Connecticut and a dealer of Solutia products. “I got a sense where they are going with the purchase of HuperOptik and the other companies they have purchased and I see more consolidation in the industry. We haven’t seen anything on our end that has changed, but I think they are just looking to have more of a presence.”
Other dealers are just hoping that there won’t be any major changes to the service they currently receive from Solutia.
“The only real effect that it has on us is that it continues to be a bigger corporation,” says Michelle Porch, co-owner of Pro-Tech USA Window Films and dealer of Solutia products in Covington, La. “As long as they don’t go up on price I think we will always acclimate to new changes.”
Some window film professionals see the combination of major technology as a positive move for Solutia and its continued growth.
“This acquisition is a tremendous value-add to Solutia. The company will now be able to combine Southwall’s next generation sputtering capabilities of XIR® and ceramic technologies used in Hüper Optik and VKool window films with Solutia Performance Films’ ability to convert the sputtered substrates into a finished product,” says Rob Oranges, the business development manager for Vision Quest Distributing in Sparks, Nev. “Solutia also will benefit from the success of Southwall’s relationships with existing window film marketing channels like Hüper Optik and will be in a better position to service high-growth markets.”
The Solutia acquisition came two months after the announcement that Solar Gard Specialty Films was being acquired by Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and the industry has been buzzing and transitions and change.
“The recent wave of acquisitions has been interesting,” says Patric Fransko, chief operating officer of Zola Distributing and Service Group Distribution in Fullerton, Calif. “In my opinion, much of the interest from the acquiring companies was based on increasing OEM capabilities, but that can still be beneficial for the window film industry. The exciting thing is that you are seeing increased investment in our industry that should lead to more category awareness. As an industry, we still are reaching such a small percentage of the potential market that increasing awareness should be at the top of everyone’s priority list.”