Their Tint Shop Was Destroyed. Here’s How They’re Rebuilding.

September 16th, 2015 by Casey Flores

When Tint King owner Dave Zal first heard that car had driven through his business, he could hardly believe it. But it happened and it taught him some valuable lessons about insuring a business.

“One of my customers called me that night shortly after it happened,” he says. “That was about 9:40 p.m., so I didn’t answer it. Then, a minute later, he texted me and sent me a picture. I was in shock … It looked like a scene out of a movie.”

Tint King on the night of the Accident.

Colonie, N.Y.-based Tint King on the night of the Accident.

The Accident

The incident, which happened  on September 1, occurred when a driver who crashed his truck into a pole in an effort to hurt himself and his passenger, according to a report. He is currently in jail for reckless driving.

“He picked the wrong pole,” Zal says, because the vehicle went right through that then into and almost through his tint shop.

The Damage

The building was damaged so badly that the town building inspector condemned it. Zal wasn’t even allowed to get anything out (though a firefighter retrieved the cash register for him the night of the crash), and the site was demolished.

Luckily, Zal didn’t own the building, but had been there for 15 years and had a year-to-year lease on it, which he expects to be null now.

David’s wife and co-owner, Sandy, says they lost tens of thousands of dollars—more than six months’ supply—of automotive, commercial and paint protection film, and their insurance will only cover a fraction of that.

“Insurance has been the worst part about all this because when we bought our policy, we bought it 15 years ago when we started our business,” she says. “As we grew, we had a bigger film inventory: two plotters, two computers, etc. We didn’t increase the coverage, so we’re going to take a loss. At this point, based on our coverage, we could lose anywhere from $25,000 to $35,000, but that’s not set in stone.”

Whether the company will be reimbursed from the driver also remains to be seen.

The building was deemed uninhabitable and had to be destroyed.

The building was deemed uninhabitable and had to be destroyed.

Rebuilding Tint King

While they would have liked to “bury their head in the sand,” Sandy says they instantly went to work looking for a new location. Now, just two weeks after the accident, they think they’ve found a match.

“We’re writing up a lease now,” Sandy says. The new location is about eight miles from the old one, and is missing some key ingredients that helped them make Tint King successful.

“The new location is not on as main of a road as we were before, but we did check how many cars go by. The old had 25,000 cars per day and the new location has 18-20,000,” Sandy says. “It’s less, but most of our customers are referrals or repeat so we’re not really worried about the location. It’s very easy to get to, so I think it will be fine.”

She says, “We never would have chosen to leave there, but when you’re forced to make a change, you have to look at it like ‘change is good,’ and make the change and move on.”

The whole shop is getting a makeover—not just its location, but its logo will be updated too, Sandy says. She has no doubt they will bounce back, considering the amount of community support they’ve experienced.

Some Advice

Sandy recommends other tint shops to be prepared for the worst—especially when it comes to insurance. She urges all tint shops to check their coverage each year to make sure it is growing with their business.

“We highly recommend that business owners thoroughly look at their inventory, the worth and even make projections as to what they might have in value of their business,” she says. “They should have things written out very specifically. We didn’t realize how those things are going to fit into our insurance. They can only cover up to $1,000 per plotter,” when each cost them more than $5,000.

This image shows some of Tint King's film stock, which the Zals weren't allowed to salvage.

This image shows some of Tint King’s film stock, which the Zals weren’t allowed to salvage.

“Something that I never really thought about is that you have coverage limits on certain categories,” Dave says. “They can play games with you on what is a category. You’re billed in content, tools and equipment. Film isn’t considered a tool – it’s a building content. In addition to that, they said that category excludes office furniture, computers and some other stuff. You want to read about the exclusions. You pay all this money and they’re putting things of worth into a small category then they exclude this stuff.”

“You just have to make sure that you’re adequately covering your tools, plotter and film—maybe even over-covering,” Sandy suggests. “Be really specific with your insurance company as to what your tools and materials are so that there’s no gray area. What we consider a tool is not necessarily labeled a tool to them under our policy.”

Window Film magazine will continue to follow this story as developments are made.

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