C-Suite Execs Talk 2020 Challenges Live at WFCT

June 23rd, 2021 by Chris Collier

The International Window Film Conference and Tint Off™ (WFCT) offered attendees opportunities to learn from and engage with fellow industry professionals. C-Suite executives from many of the industry’s major manufacturers participated in “Talk Show Live.”

WFCT attendees look on as C-Suite executives from many of the industry’s major manufacturers touch on 2020’s challenges.

Moderated by WINDOW FILM magazine’s editorial director, the roundtable discussion touched on 2020’s challenges and featured Erin Bernhardt, general manager, Performance Films, Eastman; Shawn Kitchell, president and chief executive officer at Madico Inc.; Faisal Nazir, chief executive officer, Hüper Optik USA; Silvia Perez, president of 3M Commercial Solutions; Harry Rahman, director, Architectural Window Films, XPEL; and Mariana Rodriguez, senior director and general manager, Graphics Solutions, Avery Dennison.

“What was incredibly impressive through it all was how our dealers and how our customers worked together on how to deal with the stimulus, worked together with how to train their employees [and] re-open through different, meaningful ways with the customers that allowed for safe installation and safe work practices,” said Bernhardt.

Kitchell added that the extension of 2020’s challenges surprised him most. “Finding employees in 2021 was the most surprising thing,” he said. “With all of the unemployment and the economy booming, we thought [it] would be a lot easier [of a] time to recruit and bring people onboard. Until just last month, [it] was really the first time we saw that open up. We had more applications the last week of April than we had in the prior nine months.”

In addition to employment, the supply chain continues to be an area of focus for much of the industry. “I spent the majority of my time in 2020 focused, as the president of the business, on demand-generation discussions,” said Perez. “90% of my time now is [spent] on supply. It’s not just the high-demand, but then we were also hit with the raw material shortage.”

Rodriguez said that a swift economic recovery coupled with a raw material shortage has proven to be the most challenging aspect of these unprecedented times. “Things are definitely looking much, much better,” Rodriguez said. “The roughest part of supply disruptions was back in February and March [2021] because of the combination of very high growth with some of the challenges from the Texas weather impact back in late February. Things are slowly recovering and getting back to normal.”

Emphasizing the pandemic’s broad impact, Rodriguez noted raw material supply chain difficulties in several other industries, including housing, automotive and construction. She sees progress with the supply chain, but expects it to remain a challenge for the next couple of months. Nazir added that residential business operations have varied by location during COVID-19. “If you’re on the West Coast, which is a little bit more COVID-aware and [has] more lockdowns—we had to apply some tools from our marketing company, non-contact quotes for our dealers so they could send it to their customers so that nobody came in person to someone’s house,” Nazir said. “Whereas, on the East Coast, it wasn’t as rigid.”

For Rahman, the unknown posed the biggest challenge. “Our biggest issue at XPEL was uncertainty,” he said. “How long is this going to last? If you said, ‘It’s going to last a year,’ we would have said, ‘alright, good, let’s plan for it.’ But when you don’t know when it’s going to end, that is the most difficult.”

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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