Opportunities Abound in Security Film

August 13th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

But One Size (or Attachment System) Does Not Fit All

By Tara Taffera

“There have been large break-ins in bigger cities that have had so much loss in damage combined. If they had film on the glass, and stopped the protestors with anti-intrusion film, it could have saved their inventory and they just would have had to focus on broken windows and not all that stolen inventory,” says Kyle Fuller, owner of TintPro in Bonaire, Ga.

Window film is not top of mind as a security device for small business owners—rather alarm systems are. But shop owners say window film is an even better alternative, and they are working to get the word out.

“When they [business owners] move in a building, they think I need an alarm. They don’t think, ‘I need to get window film,’” says Matt Darienzo, owner of Solar Art in Laguna Hills, Calif. “But that needs to be their answer every time. It’s a very niche business— but it will help them.”

Protection for Storefronts

Who is the “them”? Well, for one, owners of storefronts, particularly in major cities, where break-ins have increased in the past year. Fuller says a lot more such owners are calling, as well as big name franchises and chains such as those selling cell phones, computers, guns and pawn shops.

“It’s gone crazy, and the industry has a large demand for security film,” he says.

Josh Miller, co-owner of Green Valley Window Tinting in Henderson, Nev., says he went out to a job right as the lockdowns began in 2020. The work needed was due to the riots. “We got called out to a shopping center on the north side that was being shut down by the police. We went out and installed security film as police were barricading the area.”

Green Valley Window Tinting is experiencing the same elevated demand as TintPro, but both owners say there is education that still has to be done, as there are film companies out there spreading misinformation.

“I had to turn down a several thousand square foot job because the contractor basically told the customer we are putting a bulletproof film on,” says Fuller. “Security film is not bulletproof. They were also calling their film “anti-intrusion” but if you don’t attach it right that won’t work either.”

Fuller didn’t take the job, and even wrote a letter to the contractor telling them they were using the film incorrectly. “There are so many companies just looking for a paycheck,” he adds.

A “Weird” Market

Miller explains security as a “weird market,” at times as some people are trying to oversell it in terms of capabilities.

“This is buying you minutes, not hours,” says Miller. “Once a person realizes they can’t get in, they go away, and the homeowner is okay with that.”

He says most of his residential security jobs are 8-mil film with an attachment, while some companies try to tell a customer they need 15-mil. “You come against other bids and hear what they are being told, and it’s overkill.”

Fuller has been applying security film and attachments for five years, and has been in business for 20. He says he made a lot of mistakes early on. “You really have to focus on the type of glass being used, such as tempered annealed, etc., and what you are attaching it to,” he says. “There are a lot of different silicones out there and certain ones don’t attach to a painted or wood surface. Say you are doing a school, for example. You have to pay attention to how old it is, have the frames been painted 20 times, and more.”

In his opinion, a two-sided tape that attaches to the film and the frame makes for a solid attachment. And commercial applications are ideal, as opposed to residential, a fact to which Darienzo agrees.

“The majority of our jobs are commercial, but we do get asked about residential. That is a tricky subject because the way to create and mitigate is through film and attachment systems,” says Darienzo. “Very rarely do you have a strong framing for residential. Although people want security film, there is a lot of woodwork, and not the bulky frames to attach it to.”

When Fuller was starting out in this market he made it a point to talk to other film companies, and also became Armorcoat certified from Solar Gard. “I learned a lot from other installers, whether it was at the Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ or the Panorama dealer meeting, or just talking to other tinters I know,” says Fuller.

Miller, however, does a huge business in residential security jobs and says he doesn’t have an issue with the attachment systems.

“Anything tempered is getting an attachment system,” he says. “Most of the time the film is being attached to doors. Every now and then you may have a French door with an unpainted surface and we may take more time to sand off an edge but we receive a lot of this work and it has kept us busy.”

The more knowledge Fuller gained in this business, the more he passed on to consumers. “People will call me and say, ‘Hey, I saw this stuff and it will keep people out of my store.’ But, you can’t oversell what the film will do,” he says. This is particularly important when it comes to certain applications such as schools. “They [people inside] need to take the time to get somewhere safe,” he says.

Ideal Applications

When it’s for the correct application, Darienzo says building owners will lay down money for this product when it’s for the correct application.

“All day long people will pay for it,” he says. “Shop owners cap themselves. They think about getting the job and not the overall strategy of business. Think about offering things that are higher priced—people will pay for it.” He adds that security film is also advantageous because it’s not as weather dependent as solar film  may be in certain climates.

As evidence of this, Darienzo says the percentage of security film projects he works on is going up  and it now comprises about 25% of his business. “The biggest projects in the history of our company were security film projects undertaken in the past two years,” he says.

One of those applications was the installation of security film on five buildings for Facebook. “You can get a little more money if you are doing an attachment system,” he adds. “People will pay more for the safety and peace of mind of it.”

Sometimes it comes down to you-the business owner–spreading the word. “A lot of people still think of window tinting as solar,” says Darienzo, who adds that his company became a DefenseLite dealer as he saw it as a great next-level solution.

Fuller agrees that companies will definitely pay for security film, and also points out that grants are available that a lot of potential customers are unaware of, and that creates opportunity for film shops also. “If you are paperwork savvy you can help the customer get the grant and you can save your customer money and then can you can upsell for applications such as a school or church.”

2020 was definitely a volatile year, due to COVID-19 and some of the civil unrest taking place, particularly in our major cities. The fact is that both these unwelcome events create opportunities for those selling security film and related products. In a panel discussion hosted this year by WINDOW FILM magazine, two of the panelists addressed this fact.

“The civil unrest taking place has definitely created an interesting environment to sell security products,” said Jeff Franson, president and CEO at Window Film Depot, based in Atlanta.

“Part of being adaptive is moving into more security products,” added Jeremy Dobbins, CEO at Climate Pro in Santa Rosa, Calif. “If you are not doing this I think you are missing out … We had a perfect storm this year that led to a lot of concern and a lot ofopportunities.”

Educating Architects

The window film company owners with whom we spoke said there is still a lot of education that has to be done with architects regarding security film.

To this end, some window film manufacturers have American Institute of Architects (AIA) courses geared toward architects, and this includes Madico who has a course titled Introduction to Safety and Security Films. Below are some of the key points the course seeks to get across to architects. (Feel free to share this article with architects you work with.)

• Safety and security film is a retrofit product designed to enhance glass performance;
• The film holds together broken glass shards to protect occupants from the hazards of flying glass and prevent easy entry by intruders;
• It is polyester based and typically has a multi-layer construction;
• Products typically range from 6 mil to 15 mil in thickness depending on their intended uses; and
• It is available in both clear and tinted solar control versions.

The course takes architects through the various solar optical properties from visible light to solar heat gain coefficient, as well as its physical properties including tensile strength and puncture strength. The presentation also highlights the benefits of safety and security film.

The most common applications for security film include churches, schools, commercial buildings, retail, schools and universities, and healthcare facilities.

“Safety and security films strengthen the integrity of the building’s glass windows and overall envelope,” according to Madico. Security film strengthens all types of glass including annealed, heat strengthened and tempered.

The presentation also details the testing required for security film, and the importance of meeting these stringent criteria, and also details the importance of attachment systems.

“Film and attachment systems are important because they are engineered to keep treated glass within a window frame when an incident occurs,” says Madico. “Applications that require a combination of film and attachment system include blast mitigation and slope/overheard glazing.”

Editor’s Note: Jay Larkin, Madico’s SafetyShield program manager will present the above AIA presentation during the International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ on Monday, June 7. To learn more go to wfctevent.com

Tara Taffera is the editorial director of WINDOW FILM magazine. You can reach her at ttaffera@glass.com.

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

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