The New Guy Meets the Newer Guy
I don’t meet fellow window film newbies often. This industry is brimming with industry vets carrying resumes spanning longer than my 25 years of life. During my three-day visit at Palmetto Protection Films in Myrtle Beach, S.C., I learned from a veteran and bonded with a rookie.
20-year-old Donovan Whitley is new to the window film industry, much like me. My industry knowledge was limited to automotive tint before I started at the magazine in April, and Whitley’s situation parallels my initial awareness. Not far removed from National Apprenticeship Week, Palmetto Protection Films owners Matthew and Kristy Yelle have an apprentice of their own.
Whitley has extensive experience in the restaurant industry, having held roles as a busser, cook and server at several establishments. He also ran a lawn-care service, Coastal Maintenance Solutions LLC. A conversation as a server at The Grumpy Monk in Myrtle Beach, S.C., led to his introduction to window film. I sat down and chatted with a fellow ‘new guy’ after his first day on the job.
WF: How did you fall into the film industry?
Whitley: I was doing my job as a server, having a normal day. I get a table, and it’s a family of four. I go up to them, introduce myself and they’re a kind group of people. They talked about Palmetto Protection Films, gave me their card and from there, it sparked an opportunity. . . . I came out and saw what the job would entail—we both could tell that it was going to work out. I put my two weeks in the day after that.
WF: What inspired your leap of faith?
Whitley: I wasn’t looking for another job. The opportunity came, and I thought about it. I didn’t know much about window film at all, so I knew it would be a completely new experience and that I wouldn’t be bringing much to the table at first. But thinking about it and always being a person that wants to try new things, I was like, ‘You know what, let me go out there and see if this is a fit for me.’
WF: How does the film industry relate to other industries you’ve worked in?
Whitley: I’m prepared for the things that aren’t involved with the film—I can talk to customers, understand the side of a business where quality matters over quantity and how much the company can benefit from me.
WF: What surprised you most when learning about film?
Whitley: I related it to car tint, so the first thing I’m thinking is it’s more how it makes the house look versus how efficient the film is and what it does for the customer. It actually protects [the house] from hurricane destruction, protects [people] from cancer rays and helps them see the TV without glare. That’s my biggest takeaway from the first day—It’ll be cool to help out these people because I’ll have a purpose; there’s meaning behind what I’m doing.
Whitley’s background speaks to the industry’s diverse makeup. Whether our journey started with a mass communication degree, in a hands-on trade school, as an apprentice, at a parent’s shop or in a backyard, our climb started somewhere. From media members to apprentices to owners, we all play vital roles in an ever-evolving and growing industry. I am thankful to be a part of it.
Here’s to week two, Donovan!