The New Guy by Chris Collier
by Chris Collier
October 6th, 2021

Texas-Sized Tinting

Everything is bigger in Texas and, for an industry novice, tinting is not an exception. It’s day three here at Pro Window Tinting in McKinney, Texas, and I’m gearing up for a final day of education with owner Jose Chimal. Days one and two provided hands-on experience, technical knowledge and networking opportunities that I will carry into the future.

A heavily-modified 2019 Ford F-150 was the first vehicle on deck for day one.

Day One

Day one began with a 2019 Ford F-150 rolling into the shop for tint removal and application. Its owner had his vehicle inspected after moving from Arizona, discovering that his current tint percentage was illegal in Texas. The owner—a former U.S. serviceman—had developed a sensitivity to light after combat encounters. He acquired a medical exemption that allows for a darker-than-normal percentage to accommodate for his vision-related symptoms. It was neat to see a veteran gain more than just privacy from film. This industry is unique in that its products offer several functions for various types of customers. Seeing this in person was meaningful to me.

I observed Chimal as he worked car after car. Bottom loading and the removal of panels and parts for proper film application was a significant talking point. As I continue my travels, I will notice and pick up on various installation techniques. Chimal prefers bottom-loading over the two-stage method, but every installer has their preferences.

Later that morning, Chimal went into his storage room and returned with a 2018 Honda Civic Type-R backlite and a roll of window film with 15% visible light transmission (VLT). It was time to team up and take on some tinting together. While I’m a writer—and not the handiest—I wanted to attempt an installation. To cover any industry, you have to immerse yourself headfirst.

Chimal guided my process patiently. We first cleaned the glass with a solution. Using a Roland DG plotter, we then printed the pattern for the curvaceous glass and took it to the peel board and sliced the printed film with care. Next, we heat-shrunk the film to mold it to the glass, getting rid of bubbles along the way.

The Type-R just happens to be one of my favorite rides.

My first impression—this isn’t easy. When you watch an 18-year-veteran up close, it looks more straightforward than it is. Applying film is so much more than just pressing buttons on a plotter and slapping the tint on the glass. It’s a delicate dance full of details that I now respect and appreciate much more than I did before.

We rounded out the afternoon by grabbing lunch with Lisa Anderson, director of business development for Autobahn, Hüper Optik and Edge. It was interesting to take in tips and tricks from someone at a top supplier after conversing with an installer. She hammered home that every car is its own animal, presenting unique challenges. For example, Teslas seem complex; their glass defroster lines are weak and the trim will scratch easily.

Day Two

My day two takeaway? Customers are challenging beyond belief. From an unwillingness to pay a $50 security deposit to hanging up the phone after discovering pricing, you shop owners have to walk a tightrope. You don’t want to push a customer away, but you also want to stand your ground on pricing and scheduling. It’s a balancing act. But for every demanding customer, there’s a great one. A customer from day one returned on day two to return a tool that Chimal left in his car. It was about more than the tool, though. Thoughtfulness is always appreciated; I am sure that pushes you forward after several impatient customers.

I also learned a lot about heat rejection on day two. Chimal used a solar film thermometer to display the difference between a ceramic and non-ceramic film. Ceramic’s ability to turn back heat stood out immediately.

Overall, the education I’ve gained during these two days is immeasurable. It’s one thing to write about it, but being placed in the middle of a film shop is a whole different ball game. Thank you to Chimal for making this visit happen, and stay tuned for my next adventure.

This blog is from Focus on Film, the weekly e-newsletter that covers the latest news regarding window film and related products, including paint protection film. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Window Film magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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  1. Good job Chimal ! Proud of you

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