National Apprenticeship Week: Training the Next Generation

November 17th, 2021 by Chris Collier

This week marks the seventh annual National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), a nationwide effort to recognize apprentices’ critical role in the labor force. The window film industry is one of shared knowledge, a culture fostered by a desire to train the next wave of installers. Veterans are leading the charge.

Al Satterfield installing a wrap with his two sons.

“Apprentices are the future of a company,” says Andrew Peeler, owner of Solar Shade Window Tint in Jacksonville, Fla., Lake City, Fla., and Savannah, Ga. “That’s what you’re training. You’re looking for someone to carry on what your other employees have done. At the end of the day, as an owner, you need an exit strategy, or you might as well work for yourself.”

Peeler prefers hiring apprentices over experienced installers, citing the ability to teach and mold. Throughout his eight years in the industry, he’s had 100-150 apprentices. He typically hires in groups of five or six at a time.

“We start them off at around $14 or $15 an hour,” Peeler says. “We have them go through a two-week crash course with one of our shop foreman. He’ll pick from there—who he thinks is going to be the best candidates to spend the time training.”

Film isn’t for everyone, but Peeler provides opportunities for suitable candidates. He says, “We may put you in [training] how to do paint protection over window tint; may put you in vinyl over film or paint protection. . . . It’s wherever somebody is going to fit.”

Peeler uses Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Facebook, Instagram and Google to connect with his future apprentices. The search is closer to home for Al Satterfield, owner of INTINTZ Window Tinting in North Kokomo, Ind.

“Both of my installers are my sons, so we’re a family operation,” Satterfield says. “My oldest son came up in school and he was an apprentice, and then this is my second son. My first son is a full-time installer now, and my second son has fallen in his footsteps.”

Satterfield’s oldest son installs a wrap.

Satterfield is 35 years into the game after tinting his 1984 Pontiac Fiero in high school. His first son, 22, started by cleaning windows, prepping cars and picking up trash, transitioning into tinting quarter windows and sidelites. Satterfield says he avoids pressuring his sons into his lifelong passion.

“I don’t shoehorn them into a profession,” Satterfield adds. “It’s a blessing that they’ve taken on.”

Mike Sanchez (far left) took home bronze in the Automotive Tint-Off™ at the 2002 International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT).

Many industry apprentices go on to do big things. Mike Sanchez is the president of Budget Window Tint and the founder of DIRTY Promotions Film Tools and Supplies in McAllen, Texas. Years ago, the 34-year veteran trained Salvador Hurtado, vice president of Sal’s House of Tint in San Marcos, Texas. Hurtado placed first in the Automotive Tint-Off™ at the 2017 International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was also awarded the bronze medal in the architectural division.

“He’s made me proud of all the stuff that he’s become,” Sanchez says. “But I was only a stepping stone in his career.”

Mike Sanchez has WFCT hardware of his own, earning bronze in the Automotive Tint-Off™ in 2002 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. As industry members reflect on the value of apprenticeship, one thing is certain—former apprentices are bound for success at WFCT 2022, Sept. 14-16 in San Antonio, Texas.

This article 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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

One comment
Leave a comment »

  1. Hello, I was reading this article and, wanted to reach out to you.

    I am looking for a mentor. someone that I could be, their apprentice.

    I am a late bloomer, for say.

    I am 48yrs old however, I did receive window film training 4 years ago but, I am looking to be able to work in the industry full time.

    I come from a very stable situation both professionally and, personal.

    I’ am currently employed, working for a new car dealership. I have been employed and working for the owner since 1994. However, the time has come, where I would like to work in the film industry for the remainder of my professional career.

    If you know of someone, that would consider me as a trainable employee, that could be a mentor to me, please let me know. I would like the opportunity to speak to them for an employment opportunity.

    I reside in Orlando, Fl

    Thank you for your help.

    I appreciate your time..

    Regards,
    Pete C.

Leave Comment