Film Stars January/February 2019August 4th, 2021 by Bryan
Josh Poponick: Young and Hungry
Most kids hear the same lines from their parents as they’re growing up—go to school so you can get an education … with an education you can get a good job, once you get you get the job, stay there and work hard so that one day you can retire with a good pension. But what happens to a young man who tries to follow the path then realizes it’s not enough for him? When original thoughts and dreams no longer match passion … you find Josh Poponick. The 27 year old owner of Blackout Tinting in Latrobe, Pa., saw tinting and the automotive industry as more than the occasional hobby.
“On August 5th we had the grand opening for our new and current location—it’s 6,000 square feet,” says Poponick. Though celebrating his newest location’s grand opening is memorable, he has much more to be proud of, the reasons and experiences that led him to this point … his start.
Finding His Hunger
“At 19, I was working in the computer industry, I really liked computers and thought that was my passion,” Poponick says. As a teen it’s not uncommon to have more than one interest or potential career. Poponick, like many, found himself enrolled in college in pursuit of a degree, that is, until he found a hobby that became a career.
He started tinting windows in his parent’s garage at the same time he was trying to pursue his interest in computers.
Should I Stay or Go?
“One of the hardest decisions early on was deciding to drop out of college after three years and do this full time. Now looking back, I actually regret going to college in the first place because I could’ve invested more into my business earlier on,” Poponick says.
Starting a new business at any age is filled with challenges, financial obligations and dedication to make a dream a reality; most business owners would agree— it’s not easy.
“I still remember that feeling of only having enough to buy my first roll of film, at one point shortly after I started my business I had $6 in my bank account,” Poponick recalls.
Having enough money to do more than just get by is just one of the many things that fed his passion. “It was difficult starting out for a few reasons, the first being the financial aspect. I was just making enough money to keep buying more supplies to work,” Poponick says. Then the self-taught window tinter received news he wasn’t necessarily expecting.
“As I kept working and learning, my dad actually kicked me out of the garage because he was tired of all the cars coming in and out. That’s when I really started to pick up in business,” he says.
He then opened his first location, where he rented for seven years before buying his current property for his new location.
Keeping All Eyes on the Prize
If there’s one thing this young successful tinter knows, it’s that seeing is believing. He currently has 24 security cameras in and outside of his current location. He says they give his customers a sense of security, allow him to be in the know of what’s going on even while he’s away, and has gotten him out of sticky situations.
“I’ll never forget when a customer accused us of taking her back windshield out of her car. This was years ago, a woman brought her Mercedes-Benz in because she wanted her windows tinted,” he says. “We did the job and returned the car to her. She then called us complaining that she now noticed a gap in her back windshield. She came back in and we took a look at the camera footage only to find out there was an issue with how it was originally bound together,” he adds. “When we watched the tape I explained and showed her we never took her back windshield out, and she was speechless. That’s why we always have security cameras,” Poponick says.
Meeting Multiple Needs
For Poponick, customers are treated like gold regardless of what they drive. Whether they reach out to the shop via social media, email or by calling, he and his team respond ASAP. The shop has also taken a unique method to ensure customers aren’t wrapped up while waiting for their vehicle to be finished.
“We bought a new Jeep Renegade as a loner car just for customers. We tinted it and wrapped it in our logo so when customers are waiting they can take it for a spin,” he says.
He also adds, if a customer is getting work done that requires them to leave their vehicle overnight they have the option of taking the Jeep home with them, when it’s available.
“It’s definitely a selling point, especially because we get customers from 100 miles out,” he says.
Customers’ needs aren’t the only things Poponick focuses on. “I like to drive a lot and even own a classic Porsche, I was always interested in older classic models of them growing up,” he says. His car enthusiasm can be brought back to his Lamborghini purchase at 24, five years into owning the business. Fortunately, his wife enjoys his automotive passion too.
“My wife just gets it, we were dating well before I started this business and I’m grateful for that. I think it’s harder to understand why a person works so much and so hard for something when they haven’t watched the person’s progression,” he says.
Focused But Not Finished
Even after more than a decade in the business and a change of location for Blackout Tinting, Poponick has no interest in slowing down anytime soon. “This new location exceeded our expectations. I was actually expecting to see a dip in customers, as I didn’t think everyone would know about the move right away. But seeing our customer base increase was a twist we’re happy about,” he says.
Eventually Poponick aims to expand. He ends with a message for those who also didn’t quite follow the parental advice path.
“I think anyone who is passionate about this industry can be successful in their own shop, with or without a college degree, as long as they can put their head down and get the work done.”
Emmariah Holcomb is the assistant editor for WINDOW FILM magazine. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter @WindowFilmMag.
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