Film Stars July/August 2019August 5th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs
Michelle Hurtado | Oh The Places You’ll Go
By Emmariah Holcomb
Everyone’s journey in life is different, especially when window film is involved. The same can be said for this issue’s film star, Michelle Hurtado, co-owner of Sal’s House of Tint in San Marcos, Texas. She’s been in the industry for decades and has been recognized for her role within the industry several times. She was recognized by her Chamber of Commerce in 2014 and was awarded as one of San Marcos’ Shining Stars Under 40. Even after years of success, Hurtado was surprised to be acknowledged for her role in the industry.
“It’s a real surprise to be thought of in this way by the industry because my husband has been a film star and he deserves it, I never thought I could be one too,” Hurtado says.
“Sal definitely brought me into the business which quickly became our own slice of happiness,” Hurtado recalls of her husband.
But how and when did it all begin? Hurtado first worked at an auto dealership that often sent cars out to be tinted for its customers. It just so happened that Sal worked at the shop that tinted those vehicles.
“It’s interesting to think about how I got started in film now, I mean we’ve been together for so long I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” says Hurtado. The couple has celebrated five years of marriage.
The shop Sal worked for eventually closed though. “I remember that was a big deal because he ended up working at the same dealership where I worked. Before I knew it we were tag-teaming left and right and we had no issues working together, in fact, it felt like second nature,” Hurtado recalls. “I remember bringing clients’ cars into the dealership we both worked for at the time, and passing them off to Sal to be tinted. It was like nothing had really changed aside from the fact that I was able to work with him in a more direct way. To us it felt like we were running our own business,” Hurtado says.
Little did she know that experience would lead her to the next step—going into business with Sal.
“… After a while people started to know Sal as “the tinter” and me as their “connection.” Can you imagine seeing hot rods and other similar cars lined up at a Honda dealership to have their vehicles tinted? That’s something I don’t think I’ll forget anytime soon,” Hurtado says.
But making a name for themselves at the dealership helped them to decide to leave and make their own business together. In October 2010,Sal’s House of Tint officially opened its doors.
After years of being known for automotive tint, the Hurtado’s have expanded their service offerings to include flat glass.
“When we first went into business for ourselves did I think we’d end up doing flat glass? Not quite. But actually it’s what we mostly do now, can you believe we started out tinting and cars and it lead us to the residential side?” Hurtado asks.
“You know a lot of times people will come into our shop and see the posters we have hanging up. They will walk up to our displays and ask us what residential tinting is and, after I explain it to them and educate them on why they need it, there’s another customer and another job for Sal and I to tackle,” says Hurtado.
Hurtado says she finds plenty to keep the excitement and momentum going while Sal is finishing up a client’s car.
“Oh did I forget to mention I have a blast and I get to work with my best friend everyday? The customer’s know and a lot of times I’ll be in the front jamming out with them while Sal is working on making sure their cars have a tint job they’ll be proud to show off,” says Hurtado.
“I’d say going into window film full time was both confusing and motivating, and right now we’re in a really good spot for overall growth in the industry. That’s part of the reason we’ve moved more towards the flat glass side,” Hurtado adds.
It’s not just your typical architectural projects the Hurtado’s are tackling, as they’re also taking a closer look at safety.
“We started focusing on school safety with security films and how it impacts the glass. It’s unfortunate that there’s a growing need for security films in schools right now, but we have an obligation as industry professionals to help,” Hurtado says.
Currently the Hurtado’s Texas business is just the two of them, but that might change in the near future. Last year the business completed 470 projects.
“Growth is inevitable, especially since we keep getting more jobs, but right now it’s just my husband and me. So needless to say, quality control is very easy to manage. We know from experience that it gets harder when you’re growing the amount of business your shop has and your staff at the same time. I’d say down the line we’d need to gain more employees so I can take a step back,” Hurtado says.
But stepping back to Hurtado means focusing on a different side of the business full time.
“I really want to focus on the sale side of the industry and continue helping to grow our business. For a long time I used to say Sal does the tinting and I do the everything else-ing,” Hurtado adds.
And when Michelle says she does the “everything else-ing” she does. It’s not uncommon to see her alongside her husband on jobs cleaning and prepping glass after she’s hauled over pounds of gear and equipment.
“Starting out in automotive and then switching gears and now doing more flat glass is no joke. Anyone who can tint cars can definitely install film on large pieces of glass. Yes there’s a lot of information you have to learn before you start, but training is easier and it’s a higher return on installing on flat glass when compared to window tinting,” Hurtado says.
Although she often says she wears many hats, she’s still motivated by the industry she fell into.
“I wouldn’t say I have one standard job because I’m involved in a lot when it comes to our business. And although I don’t do full installations alone I’m motivated by the industry and the potential it has,” Hurtado says.
“You’ll find a lot of window film businesses that put quality at the top, for us, it’s number one. It’s been an interesting journey so far and the people in the industry help make it so great to be in, and if I had the choice to go back and do it all over again, I’d still pick window film,” Hurtado says.
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