Tinter Flies South with His Business

June 24th, 2014 by Editor

Paul Mello says that the energy efficiency window tinting brings is what drove his passion for the business.

The owner of Tint Shark in Bradenton, Fla., has spent almost three decades tinting vehicle and residential windows. After many years in the New England area, he decided it was time to move his family South and settled down in the Bradenton area to open a business.

Paul Mello

Paul Mello, owner of Tint Shark in Bradenton, Fla.

Mello got his start working with a general contractor in Boston who needed someone to tint some flat glass for a sunroom. The contractor apparently liked Mello’s work so much that he invited him to become a business partner. He found himself hooked. After years of working with the contractor, Mello opened his own shop. Tired of the cold winters, he decided to sell his business and move down South after about five years.

“It’s now been 26 years I’ve been doing this and I’ve been four years at this location. I love it here,” Mello says.

Back in New England, Mello says he was the only person doing window film in his area. It’s a different story in the South.

“Down here the demand for automotive tinting is great,” he explains. “But there is more of an emphasis on price than there was up North. A lot of customers price shop and I’m the new guy on the block. I focus on customer service and have had some good repeat customers. I’ve had customers bring in their fourth car for tinting (they keep trading them in each year and I’ve only been in business down here for about four years).”

He’s witnessed a lot of bad tinting in Florida, saying, “I’ve never done more removals of old, bad tint than I have down here.”

He says about 60 percent of his business is automotive, while 40 percent is flat glass.

“I would like to move to a new location on a busier intersection in Bradenton,” he points out.

For auto tint he uses Suntek-Carbon series, Solar Gard-HP Supreme series and Llumar-ATR Charcoal series. For residential, he uses Suntek, Solar Gard and Llumar, as well. For tint shades, he turns to Madico and SheerWeave.

Mello currently is in the process of training a new window film technician to work at his shop. He likes teaching those brand new to the industry so there aren’t any old habits to break. The industry veteran usually spends about six months training new employees and when they get good enough, they tend to strike it out on their own and start a new business after several years. But he could use an extra hand and believes the investment to train is worth it.

“I see a lot of opportunity in tinting,” says Geovanny Cruz, the trainee. “There are a lot of people who do windows down here.”

Right now, Mello is hand-cutting a lot of his window film, but he’d like to get a plotter soon as demand grows.

As for the evolution of the industry, one of the big trends he’s seeing is a push toward more online marketing. Mello has elimated his Yellow Pages advertising and does most his marketing online.

“It’s good to post vehicles you’ve tinted to Facebook, but make sure it’s jobs you’ve done legally,” he highlights. “If you don’t have a website and Facebook, it’s time to roll with the times.”

“We’ve had a bunch of good online reviews,” Cruz notes.

Looking to the future, Mello sees a lot of growth potential. He says Tint Shark is currently at about $100,000 a year in sales, with nowhere to go but up.

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