Meet the Kling of South Africa

March 16th, 2016 by Casey Flores

“This article has no value to your readers. Stick to content that has relevance.”

If you were to read that comment to us, we would instantly know who posted it on our website—Leon Levy of Klingshield in Johannesburg, South Africa. It would have come just hours after being posted, of course, because Levy doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to Window Film magazine content.

Leon Levy, owner of Klingshield in South Africa, stands by one of his in-house displays.

Leon Levy, owner of Klingshield in South Africa, stands by one of his in-house displays.

Sometimes, we don’t know whether to be offended or flattered by his extreme criticism and dedication to our online content.

Of course, he also offers his fair share of praise.

“This is the best article I have read because it offers ‘value’ to businesses in our industry,” one of his former comments reads.

While tinters tend to be opinionated by nature, Levy seems to wear the crown on that front. And maybe he’s earned that right.

Levy stands by his range of decorative films.

Levy stands by his range of decorative films.

A Window Film Sage

“I’m one of the very senior people in the industry,” the 66-year-old explains. In South Africa, many people retire around his age, but Levy’s still going strong. “I’m a young 66. I’ve got loads of energy and passion for what I do. This industry’s been so good to me—I get up every day and am excited. I’ve been successful, and window film’s given me everything I’ve dreamed of in life.”

Levy started Klingshield in 1976 and over the years has grown it into an impressive 50-employee operation. That number is especially outstanding when you understand how the cost of doing business has changed for him since he started out.

“Our currency is becoming weaker … It costs us more and more money to bring film in,” he says. “When I started, for one rand (the South African currency) I could get a dollar’s worth of film. Now I have to give 17 rand to get one dollar’s worth in film.”

Building a Brand

Part of what keeps Levy successful is his dedication to building a strong brand. Klingshield doesn’t market the type of film they offer, but the name Klingshield itself.

“Klingshield in South Africa is like the Hoover of vacuums,” he says. “It’s important because it describes what it does—it clings and it’s a shield. And I think that’s very important when naming a business.”

This strategy wasn’t always successful, especially in the early days when Levy would try to sell automotive security film.

“When I started with safety film for cars, dealers laughed at me,” he explains. “Now it’s the number-one-selling aftermarket product in South Africa.”

Why? Because smash-and-grabs are all too common in the country.

“When you come to a stopped street, they say they’re selling something,” Levy explains. “Then they smash your window, grab your bag, then run.” As a result, every car in the country has anti-smash-and-grab film (which is a term he first penned, he says). For cars that don’t have it, Levy explains that every time there’s a report on it, Klingshield’s phone starts ringing.

A True Chief Executive

Levy says he answers every phone call Klingshield gets.

Levy says he answers every phone call Klingshield gets.

And when it does, Levy’s there to pick it up.

“The boss answers the phone,” he says. “I’m onsite from open to close every day. I don’t think there’s another CEO who can say he answers the phone. They’re too busy—but not me. I spend a lot of money on marketing, and I want them to understand that we know what we’re talking about.”

With dedication like that, Levy and his business Klingshield show no sign of slowing down any time soon. Each segment continues to grow—even in an economy that has contracted for the last four years straight. Maybe we can even take some credit for that.

“I look for ideas in your magazine,” he says. “I pick up clips, and it keeps me on the edge of what’s going on in the marketplace.”

With an outlook like that, we know we can expect spirited feedback from Mr. Levy for years to come—and we very much look forward to it.

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 comments
Leave a comment »

  1. Thank you for this very well written article.I must say that since Casey has become the editor of the window film magazine is has improved in leaps and bounds. The lay out is much cleaner the pics are more interesting and the content is more relevant and all ways very well written, Casey keep up the good work young man. Leon Levy Klingshield South Africa

  2. This is a brilliant article!! I have worked with Leon Levy for 19 years. He is an absolutely amazing man and is sharper than a razor blade!!!

    He has endless energy and puts the young people to shame! He is at work early every morning and leaves late every evening! His work does not stop here. When he gets home he continues to research each and every night.

    You could not have given him a better title – THE KLING OF SOUTH AFRICA!!!

    Thank you for this amazing article as well as a brilliant magazine

    Kind regards

    Sonja Geyer

Leave Comment