How This Cleveland-Based Tint Shop Has Made it 40 Years in Business

January 21st, 2015 by Casey Flores

It takes more than being a wide-eyed, passionate entrepreneur to run a business, and John Hansen knows it.

The owner of Cleveland, Ohio-based Suntrol is celebrating his 40th year in business in 2015. What started as a hobby in high school led to a career for Hansen. He started Rainbow Window Tinting in 1975 (when he was 15 years old) and purchased Suntrol Custom Tint in 1986, incorporating under that name. He saw it as a wise investment then—and still does.10846106_10152912702811774_3990623632571598266_n

“I saw the vision of where the product was and where it had the potential to go—that it could become a legitimate business,” he says.

And it has been. Hansen has a number of his competitors over the years, including automotive tint shops. But when Ohio passed legislation requiring 50 percent VLT on every window, he took a huge hit.

“Eventually we had to diversify and get into auto accessories, but I wanted to focus strictly on film,” Hansen says, so he closed all three of his automotive stores in 1999, a choice he describes as the best thing he’s ever done. “In the retail side of it, you have high overhead [plus] in Ohio, you can’t pump out cars in the wintertime … Now I’m able to focus strictly on residential and commercial,” he says, explaining the margins are much higher on that end.

Hansen has seen the industry change over the year. When he started, “there really wasn’t much of an industry,” he says. “You had a couple dealers that were buying window film and that was it. [Now] more dealers are popping up and more people are getting involved in it.”

In the past 40 years Hansen has seen marketing strategies change quite a bit—including with the invention of the world wide web. he’s never deviated from his original marketing strategy: providing top-quality customer service.

“I had the determination to make sure that our customers are 100 percent satisfied with the work. If there’s any problems, we work hard to fix them. Our customers have been loyal to us,” he says, noting that referrals are still the best kind of marketing.

But that kind of customer service doesn’t mean bending to their every demand.

“I’m not the cheapest guy. I never have been. I’m always on the high end of everything. I pay my people very well and give them vacation, benefits. There’s a cost of doing business that way,” he says, confessing that he’s sometimes had to turn down potential contracts. “We have actually walked away from consumers many times [because] what they expected wasn’t realistic,” but for Hansen, the benefits of doing that far outweigh the cost. “When I take care of my people, they take care of me,” he says.

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. I solute you my man, well done.That’s what I call consistency.
    Its a very inspiring story with some wise words.Keep going there is still lots of money to be made in this business. New doors open every day
    Trust me I have also been involved with in this fantastic Window Film product range for over four decades.
    We are all blessed to have found our way into such amazing industry
    The sky is the limit.
    Kind Regards Leon Levy

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