The New Guy by Chris Collier
by Chris Collier
December 15th, 2021

The Wide World of Window Film

I’ve traveled more than ever in 2021, and it wasn’t for vacation. From October 4 to December 9, I traveled to shops in Texas, Georgia, Nevada and South Carolina, connecting face-to-face with owners, installers and apprentices. Boarding six planes in 66 days, I had the opportunity to learn from industry veterans.

Palmetto Protection Films owner Matthew Yelle (left) and apprentice Donovan Whitley make a great team.

I was welcomed with open arms. You didn’t know me, but it didn’t matter. You opened your shop’s doors, inviting me not only into your place of operations but also into your livelihood. I conversed with customers, rode in work vans, shared lunch breaks, scanned installations and shook your hands. Thanks to your selfless outreach, I solidified my industry knowledge and made new memories.

Pro Window Tinting (McKinney, Texas)—October 4 to October 7

Something I Learned: Customers are unpredictable. In an age of demanding customers with unrealistic expectations, jobs are anything but given. But rude customers never fazed owner Jose Chimal. The 18-year-veteran juggled a ringing iPhone in the middle of installations, tending to inquiries with professionalism and patience. Chimal placed the phone in his pocket and moved forward if the call didn’t translate into a job. Observing his customer management skills was eye-opening.

A Memory I Made: Grabbing Chipotle for lunch with Chimal and Lisa Anderson, director of business development for Autobahn, Hüper Optik and Edge. I felt at home in Texas. Conversing about life and industry topics over a loaded burrito in Texas will stick with me past this year.

Tinting for Time at Tint Pro (Warner Robins, Ga.)—October 16

Middle Georgia film shops showed up in numbers for Tinting for Time.

Something I Learned: Kindness is alive and well in a world that appears more divided than ever. Middle Georgia film shops donated their time to ensure a young girl’s battle with cancer continues. The event generated $9,500 in tinting sales for three-year-old Hailey Holder Allen and her family. An additional $2,600 was raised through donations from the film community. It was an unseasonably warm and sunny October day in Warner Robins, and it fit the mood. I left this event feeling reinvigorated with positivity.

A Memory I Made: Interviewing Hailey’s mother. It was the most memorable interview I’ve ever done. Hearing her positivity during a battle that would surely wear most down was inspiring: “We’re so grateful. When she relapsed, I was kind of terrified. We had already asked so much of the community during her first two years of treatment. For her to relapse, knowing it was going to be a tougher battle and knowing what her prognosis was, I wondered how we would be able to do it ourselves. But the community has once again shown up, and we’re so grateful.”

Green Valley Window Tinting (Henderson, Nev.)—November 1

Fall 2021 saw me get up close and personal with automotive film.

Something I Learned: Businesses don’t fit into a single box. Architectural division manager Joshua Miller was kind enough to invite me to his shop for a pre-SEMA Show visit. As I chatted with members of the family-owned shop, which was founded in 1983, I gained a greater appreciation for all business types. From couple-owned shops to family-run shops to shops run by a single individual, the film industry’s businesses are diverse.

A Memory I Made: Joshua Miller treating me to In-N-Out Burger. Being from Georgia, I had never experienced the highly-touted chain, and the burger was incredible. But it was the drive and the conversations that stuck with me. I was 2,000 miles from home, but it never felt like it.

Palmetto Protection Films (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)—December 6 to December 9

Something I Learned: Connections matter. Owners Matthew and Kristy Yelle allowed me to observe residential film projects in the flesh for the first time. One of my takeaways landed in the realm of personable connection. Like my job, interacting and engaging with others is crucial with residential projects. Seeing his team step into a stranger’s home and treat the process with care allowed me to gain a fresh perspective. Stay tuned for more coverage on my visit to Palmetto Protection Films in WINDOW FILM magazine’s January/February issue.

A Memory I Made: Connecting with an apprentice during his first week. Learning alongside a fellow newcomer was a unique experience for me. I witnessed a former server, busser and landscaper’s growth over three days. It was neat seeing a two-decade veteran pass along knowledge to the next generation.

Thank you to all shops that welcomed me in 2021. You have made my first eight months in this industry unforgettable.

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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