Film Stars May/June 2021August 17th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs
Falling Back on Family
by Chris Collier
Rachel Schabroni lost her job as a roofer on Saturday, August 30, 2014. The jarring news was delivered via text while the 20-something was visiting her father during Labor Day weekend. Rachel immediately sat on the couch with her father and together, they plotted her next move. The former roofer had suddenly slipped into limbo. But her father, Rick Schabroni, was there to pull her out and get her moving forward again. “I said listen, this is what happened, and he just said, ‘Well, we’ll figure something out. Just come in one day. We’ll make it work, [and] we’ll find something you can do,’” she said.
Her dad had founded Solar Solutions Window Tinting in Mentor, Ohio, in 1999, and on Tuesday, September 2, 2014, his daughter joined the family business. It didn’t take Rachel long to feel at home thanks to frequent visits to her father’s shop during childhood.
“I’ve never known [a world] without tint,” Rachel said. “I always thought it was a thing that everybody knew about. Because when we were [young], all of my dad’s cars were tinted, [and] my mom’s cars were tinted. Everybody in my family had tinted windows. I just thought it was a normal thing.”
Rachel learned the trade through frequent observation initially, but her true growth came when her father sent her out into the field to gain hands-on experience. She began applying automotive window film, writing quotes for jobs, and learning how to meet her customer’s expectations through product suggestion and explanation.
“It was nerve-wracking because you don’t want to mess anything up on a car,” Rachel said. “You don’t want to trash any film and waste any of dad’s money. But it was cool because your parents can see something in you that you don’t see, and, at the time, I didn’t know that. He obviously knew [that], hey, if you mess it up, it’s okay. You can do it again. So he would keep throwing me into things and it would just get more and more nerve-wracking. [But] the more I did it, the better it would get.”
Fast forward nearly seven years and Rachel is the manager of the company that her father founded. Now part of a four-person team that’s more akin to a family than a group of coworkers, Rachel looks back on Labor Day weekend in 2014 with gratitude.
“You’re put where you’re supposed to be,” Rachel said. “[The firing] was just something that had to happen so that I could be where I’m at. I never knew I had the passion that I do have. I would do it all over again, in a heartbeat, just to be where I am.”
Business Is Booming
Despite COVID-19 and its devastating economic impact, Solar Solutions has seen dramatic growth over the past two years. The company amassed a half-million dollars in sales in 2020, nearly doubling its annual sales in 2019. Rachel attributes a portion of the increase to a surge in residential and commercial work spurred by the pandemic. With many employees working from home, companies have reconfigured their office spaces and placed an increased emphasis on window safety and security. Automotive work continues to account for a large portion of Solar Solutions’ annual revenue, though. She estimates the company works on 2,500 to 3,000 vehicles per year.
Solar Solutions is more than two decades old but founder and owner Rick plays as big a role as ever. From installs to quotes to customer support, there isn’t a hat that Rick doesn’t wear from 9 to 5. He continues to train his daughter so that when it’s time to retire, the family business can continue to thrive and reach new heights.
“My dad built such a reputation, and the biggest goal for me is just to keep that going and now it’s us together building more of a reputation,” Rachel said. “That’s probably the coolest feeling in the world because you don’t see too many shops [where] a kid can work with their parent, whether it’s a mother, father, aunt, uncle [or] whatever it may be, like this. So I’m very fortunate and very lucky and very happy that I can be where I’m at today.”
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