Film Stars September/October 2020August 12th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs
Seeing More Than Just Profits
By Emmariah Holcomb
Randy Hutson knows a thing or two about spotting a solid business venture and sticking with it. Even so, the owner of Five Star Window Coatings in Grand Rapids Mich., didn’t exactly begin his career with film in his hands.
“I started out with an auto accessory business in 2000 and we did automotive window tinting at the time as well,” Hutson recalls. “After six or seven years I purchased the existing business from my automobile window tinter.”
After the purchase, the architectural side of the business kept growing by approximately 15% to 20% each year. Hutson sold the auto accessory business and focused on window film full time beginning in 2005.
“Five Star started in 1989, but I have more than 20 years of architectural and automotive tint experience combined,” Hutson says. “No one really led me into this—it was the sheer opportunity that I could do it better than my competitors,” says Hutson. “There was also a good business opportunity and I saw good profit margins.”
His hard work has paid off— in fact, for the past two years the company has been ranked in WINDOW FILM magazine’s Annual Top Dealers (see page 10).
Staying Busy Growing
Five Star has 13 employees and has completed more than 100 window film installations in August 2020. But Hutson enjoys the creativity of the business the most.
“I think [the] architectural [side] in regard to decorative films is my favorite part of the job,” he says. “You get to do so many custom prints and the designs look so cool when each project is completed.”
Decorative is a strong niche.
“We took a lot of business from the custom glass market at the time because people like the ability to change inexpensively versus changing glass. That really grew our business 15 years ago,” he recalls.
Hutson and his team have completed an array of window film projects, but one that stands out the most can be seen at nearly all of the Spectrum Health facilities. “Not that it’s been custom-printed products, because it’s all been decorative film products, and we’ve done hundreds of thousands of square feet of projects for them,” he says.
Challenges and Tech
“The biggest obstacle to growing was controlling the overall quality with our growth,” Hutson says.
Five Star has implemented a system that has helped continue its growth and positive culture. According to Hutson, the company has been utilizing the system for about three years. But there’s still room to grow…
“We just opened up an automotive facility because of the potential growth that’s available—there’s a void in the market here for high quality automotive window film,” says Hutson. “The growth potential [going forward] is new products, technologies and utilizing different marketing skill sets will continue growing at the 15-20% per year.”
Hutson says there are a lot of new products available for the industry and just staying on top of the technological side will help your business grow at a faster rate.
Calm Words of Wisdom
When he’s not working Hutson enjoys boating. And when the time on the water ends, he enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, family and his first grandson. Finding a good balance between work and family was a struggle earlier on in his career.
“The toughest thing [is to be] an involved owner. To be involved in your business especially today with all of this technology it’s hard to shut down and get a good balance,” Hutson says.
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