A Look Inside the Plants: Solar Gard and Johnson

January 20th, 2016 by Casey Flores

Perhaps nothing will impress you more about a product than how it’s made—especially window film. Recently, Window Film magazine had the chance to tour the film manufacturing plants of Southern California. Each gave us get an in-depth look at the processes behind taking film from a simple plastic product to a top-of-the-line solar control solution. And each had a tremendous commitment to quality, among other shared characteristics including:

Solar Gard's San Diego, Calif., headquarters.

Solar Gard’s San Diego, Calif., headquarters.

  1. Always Putting Safety First

Above all, products need one thing to ensure they are manufactured successfully: safety within the plant. Both manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure it, while Solar Gard rewards employees for being safe. At the time of our visit, the San Diego plant had gone 382 days without an incident.

  1. Being Responsible Earth Stewards

Being located in California means the companies have to meet some of the strictest environmental regulations in the nation. Each does so to a T.

“All of our pollutants go through an oxidizer,” a company representative said. “We adhere closely to the EPA rules.”

In fact, Solar Gard’s architectural solar control films have been independently certified “carbon negative” over their lifetime, due to the company’s low emissions levels and recycling program, among several factors.

Johnson, due to its longevity in its current location (the plant’s been there since 1963) has been grandfathered in to regulations and can actually sell its carbon credits, says Johnson’s vice president of sales and marketing Steve Chambers. The company controls its solvents and fumes by putting them through an oxidizer and incinerator, which burns at 1600 degrees Fahrenheit, keeping it well below environmental standards.

  1. Having a Strong Commitment to Quality

When it comes to film, quality control must be maintained throughout the whole process. Each company puts the film through rigorous standards tests, much of which happens before the raw material even touches their machines.

Film at Solar Gard is inspected 17 times from start to finish in its ISO 9001- and 14001-certified facilities, which includes full traceability of every 100-foot roll. Johnson’s employees get up-close-and-personal, inspecting each roll by eye.

Both companies run test simulations on their film and Johnson even has different films installed on mirrors outside. Some will stay there for years to ensure the products live up to their warranties.

  1. Investing Locally

Johnson and Solar Gard are each investing heavily in their existing plants and localities.

This is what a typical classroom looks like at Johnson University.

This is what a typical classroom looks like at Johnson University.

Much of the focus at Johnson has been on Johnson University (JU), a school that teaches future installers how to understand, sell and install window film. Currently, the company’s existing customers are utilizing the school to train their new hires, but Johnson hopes to form partnerships with high schools to use JU as a sort of vocational training center. Most of the Carson, Calif., location’s 100 employees have completed some form of the installation training, says Spencer Robley, training coordinator.

And one of the first things Lindsay Webdell, Solar Gard’s channel market manager, told us is that her company continues to invest in its San Diego facility, by moving their Anaheim, Calif., service center there. The company continues to grow its research and development team, also leveraging the resources of parent company Saint-Gobain – to explore new technologies and products.


While there are many similarities between the two companies, there are also distinctions and each also stands out with their own individuality. Watch for profiles on each of them and other film-related companies located in SoCal in the March/April issue of Window Film magazine.

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. One of the safety features provided by Solar Gard at their San Diego manufacturing plant is their annual infrared testing – not of their film products, which is a great tool for quality control – but of their electrical enclosures and switches to detect potential for failures and prevent explosions and fires.

    Not sure about the Johnson Facility.

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