A Week of Window Film

August 3rd, 2021 by Bryan

A Look Back at WFCT 2018

By Katie Brown and Tara Taffera

A one-two finish by a pair of brothers; A winner in the CSR competition who has accomplished the tri-fecta after winning in architectural and automotive division in past years; and a record number of attendees, all adds up to a very successful 2018 International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off (WFCT). The annual conference and competition was held this year in San Antonio, Texas, and featured many returning faces and several new ones. All three days were packed with informative sessions, tint-off competitions, sponsors and several other events. Participants gathered from all over the world to learn and share in a mutual dedication to the industry.

Fast N’ Loud

The biggest event was this year’s keynote speaker Richard Rawlings, the host of the popular Discovery Channel show “Fast N’ Loud,” and the owner of Dallas-based Gas Monkey Garage.

Rawlings answered questions from moderator Daniel Snow and the audience, and offered advice from his years of experience.

Rawlings advised those looking to expand to start small. He left a comfortable job in his 20s, which for some would be a scary decision. He said to start with what you know you can handle. Even though Rawlings had a little bit of money, starting small allowed him to establish a firm base before he eventually expanded into a larger garage.

Flash forward to today, Rawlings has expanded to his widely popular “Fast N’ Loud” TV show.

Rawlings told the crowd, no matter what business is looking to expand, to always rely on and support your employees. He takes a lot of pride in his brand, and knows that without his more than 1,000 employees, he wouldn’t be as successful as he is today.

Between his growing business and many new opportunities, Rawlings was able to offer much advice, inspiration and some humor at WFCT’s keynote.

Tint Talks Debut

Another new session at WFCT was the “Tint Talk” series. This TED-talk-like discussion featured Travis Smith, the vice president and general manager of performance films and interlayers at Eastman Chemical, and Sergio Shmilovitch, director of marketing and strategic development at Avery Dennison.

Smith inspired his audience to change the window film culture. He said those in the industry are responsible for the culture and for the changes and progress it makes.

He stated that four out of ten window film customers who do their research decide not to buy. They walk away because of the “experience they expect to have.” Most people decide to buy a product based on an experience they’ve had with it, whether it was seeing that product on TV or just hearing someone talk about it. He reminded the audience that while sometimes this can work negatively, it also presents an opportunity for the industry. With the right culture more people will be likely to buy products.

So what can be done about the culture? Smith said it starts with those in the industry. From his own experience, he needed to understand how people think and what they have come to expect. There needs to be a sense of purpose. Smith said that he developed his company’s purpose by providing the best window film available. He reminds the audience that passion is the key to being successful.

“You need to be consistent against the culture you’re trying to change,” stated Smith.

Shmilovitch spoke about disruption. He briefly talked about autonomous cars and how this will affect the film industry. “Will there be any cars to tint?” he asked.

He gave some practical advice to those in attendance.

“Anticipate the needs of your customers,” he said. “Identify what you are good at. Build your business and your vision around that. Think about what you want to be when you grow up.”

Great advice for all companies to remember, and Shmilovitch said no dreams are too big.

“Think big and whatever you are thinking: think bigger,” he said. “If people don’t laugh at your goals you aren’t thinking big enough.”

He stressed that if companies and individuals want to change it all starts with their mindset.

“Understand your customer and understand yourself,” he said. “Figure out where you want to be five years from now and go get it.”

Covering the Gamut

There were many great seminars every day of the conference. Thursday sessions featured talks from Mike Feldman, president of Advanced Film Solutions, Brad Campbell, president of Campbell Window Film, Bill Valway, founder and CEO of Absolute Perfection Window Tinting (AP Tinting), PremiumShield’s Jamie Werner and Steve Pesce, founder of New York Window Film.

Werner led a discussion about helpful tips on selling paint protection film (PPF). “You have to be willing to talk about it and educate the consumer about it,” he said.

Being successful with PPF requires a lot of effort. “If you don’t put time and effort and money into it you won’t be successful,” said Werner. “Invest in training. Do a few free jobs. That will be a win-win.”

Pesce explained how to grow business through manufacturer relationships. One day, on a whim, he asked his supplier representative if there was anything he could do to help grow his business. The representative answered that he wasn’t sure, but he could help him do cold calls. This was the beginning of a partnership that helped them both. If Pesce had customers, then his supplier had customers as well. Pesce stressed that it is important to simply ask for help.

Valway led a discussion called “Diversity with Deco” where he encouraged the audience to learn more about decorative film and wraps. Valway said that when he started expanding into graphic works, his business grew instantly. Not only did a wider market show up, but his slow winter season instantly picked up.

Saturday’s seminars featured Chris Robinson, founder and CEO of The Tint Guy Window Tinting, Greg McKay, president of NU-VUE Window Films and Patrick Coyle, cofounder of NGS Films and Graphics.

The first topic was managing a successful film business led by Robinson. He said success is a combination of profits, industry recognition and self-employment. However, he told the crowd what really drives him is the passion for what he does. While residential and commercial tinting makes money, automotive tinting is what he really enjoys.

The second topic was selling to architects and designers, led by McKay.

He started out in 1986, and has seen a growing need for experience with selling to architects and designers. One of the things that helped McKay is hosting lunch-and-learns for architects, so they can not only, get to know the company, but also create opportunities for them to get credits for their license. These relationships will be beneficial for both companies, and will prompt free advertising from the architects to their customers.

Coyle led a discussion on the future of window film. He explained that the biggest change in glass is the expectation of low-E coatings on windows. There is so much glass integrated into buildings, as it has become an architectural element now, so low-E coatings have become the base expectation for glass, according to Coyle. Installers can expect to see a growing demand for solar control films, and improved codes for windows.

Competitions

Along with the many great sessions, WFCT also featured the annual Tint-Off competitions, and for the first time, the Window Film Customer Service Representative (CSR) competition.

In the paint protection film division, Tyler O’Hara of American Wrap Co. in Thousand Oaks, Calif., took home the gold; Kyle Murdock of Oz Braz in Gilbert, Ariz., took the silver; and Chris West of CCA Motorsport in Anchorage, Alaska, took the bronze.

In the architectural division, Ricky Miller, Green Valley Tint in Henderson, Nev., won the gold; Josh Miller (Ricky’s brother), Green Valley Tint in Henderson, Nev., was recognized with the silver medal; and David DeRocha of Adhesive Pro LLC in Duncanville, Texas, was honored with the bronze medal.

In the automotive division ByeongYeol Park of Korea-Tinter. com in Gwang-ju, Korea, was awarded the gold; Robert Salvia of Hunters Hill Window Tinting in North Ryde, Sydney, Australia, took the silver medal; and John Ross Arendse of Barons VWNI City Fitment Centre, in Johannesburg, South Africa, took the bronze medal.

The winner of the inaugural Customer Service Representative competition, which recognized those who are the voice of the window film industry, was also announced.

One finalist from each region competed in the finals round in San Antonio. They were: Chris Brooks of Kauff’s Tint in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; Matt Green of 400 Tint in Newtown, Conn.; and Weatherly Yocca of U.S. Film Crew in Pittsburg, Pa.

The gold medalist and grand champion was Brooks, who received a prize of $2,500. Brooks has now won in all Tint-Off categories except for PPF. In automotive, he won bronze in 2012, gold in 2011 and silver in 2008. In architectural, he won silver in 2012.

Sponsor Spotlight

Even if the only thing participants saw in San Antonio was the suppliers on the show floor, they would still be impressed. This year saw numerous vendors who all had something unique to put on display.

There were several first timers at the show this year, such as Deco Film Depot, Armolan Window Films and SoakShield.

“We chose to exhibit at this year’s show because we felt this was the industry’s main event,” said Robert Ohman, Soak Shield. “We also wanted to showcase all of our new and upcoming products to everyone. This show also means so much for networking with everyone in the industry.”

Ohman describes SoakShield as the window tinting industry’s first and original absorbent rope used for absorbing water running down behind the dash of a vehicle while installing film which helps to protect the electronics and other parts from water damage. “The SoakShield rope is also used to collect the water that would absorb into the top layer of what the dashboard is covered in (leather, suede, cloth, etc.),” he said. “When water is left to sit on the edges of the dash it can cause the material to unglued and curl up on the edges, damaging the whole dashboard.”

The company also offers other microfiber products to help protect the customer’s vehicles in many ways while installing film.

Armolan Window Films typically exhibits at SEMA but this year decided to give WFCT a try, according to Diego Lazarte, general manager.

“I really wanted to exhibit in a show that focuses solely for the most part on Window Film,” he said. “Also I think for being a relatively new company us attending this show will get our name out to the more seasoned veterans in this industry and also the tinters in the San Antonio area.”

The company showcased its various products including its non-reflective and high performance lines, and also its Ice Cool Line, a nano-ceramic film which offers 90 percent IR rejection.

One helpful tool for dealers was on display at the XPEL booth. EZ-Tint helps techs alleviate moisture issues and offers greater consistency and precision during an installation.

Window Film Options

There were plenty of window film options on display. But film companies also took some unique approaches to promoting window film in general to consumers. Eastman, and its Llumar brand, partnered with Hendricks Motorsports and the number 88 racecar driven by Alex Bowman. The company is investing heavily to get the Llumar brand out to the consumer and is helping dealers promote the sponsorship to drive awareness to window film and PPF products.

Global Window Films featured its QDP ceramic window films offering 99 percent ultraviolet rejection. The films block infrared heat while letting in visible light. The high visible light transmittance films are ideal for restrictive local tint laws or when the customer wants solar and safety benefits without the traditional dark appearance, according to the company.

Apollo Window Film featured its window films, specifically their new Ultra CSX Carbon Ceramic Series. Carbon films were prevalent on the show floor, and you will likely see many at SEMA in November (see article, page 34.) Wintech Window Film Technology showed its xenium carbon film which includes the X200 and X900 window film. These contain no metalized layers and won’t interfere with electronic signals, according to the company.

KDX featured carbon films as well, including its newest Carbon X, and the company reports there was a great deal of interest in the film from attendees. The company has been busy as it recently opened a new office and location in Jersey Village, Texas, and is current looking for distributors in all 50 states.

Maxpro made some modifications to its carbon product which it told attendees about, including increased heat rejection properties. “Our customers seem to really love it,” said Elizabeth Dillon, vice president, sales and marketing.

Companies also showcased their paint protection products and that includes Avery Dennison who told dealers how they could grow their businesses by adding PPF and other products to their window film line up. This includes vehicle wraps, decals and even smart films that can be applied to flat glass.

Also featuring PPF was Rayno Window Film. The company launched its Creed PPF late last year but made some upgrades and featured those at the event. The film protects the paint on a vehicle with an invisible and virtually indestructible shield, says the company. The film combines self-healing and hydrophobic functions in one product and self heals in less than three minutes without hot water or heat.

This was also the case with Reflek Technologies, a company that predominantly featured its PPF products. The company showed off its nano coating which is high gloss and dent resistant, and uses an adhesive engineered to meet the dealer’s needs. “We have gotten great feedback on our adhesive for PPF,” said Eric Xie. “So far we have had strong sales on the West Coast and are expanding into the East Coast.”

Source One Digital showed its graphic window films, as well as its new sister website, CreativeFx. This website gives clients the ability to decide exactly what they want on their film. Along those technological lines, SolarGard promoted its new dealer app which has a lot of new features, including assistance for dealers in generating estimates and sending literature to potential customers.

3M showcased a variety of its products but also featured its pattern cutting system that includes over 20,000 individually designed patterns for cutting pre-designed patterns for cars.

Glassparency showcased its glass coatings, but also talked about how it is now expanding into other glass applications.

Watch WFCT Online

For more products from the show visit windowfilmmag.com/studio and search for the following:
• “A Last Look at Products” features introductions from Eastman, 3M and XPEL.
• “IWFA Educates and Sponsors Feature Products and Demos,” features products from Madico and Maxpro.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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