Film Stars January/February 2022

February 23rd, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

Clocking In: A Simi Valley Success Story

By Chris Collier

How do you spend your lunch breaks? Some fill their hour listening to their favorite podcast, hitting their go-to lunch spot or simply taking a deep breath before heading back into the ring. In 2005 at the age of 18, Wilson Najarro moved from Guatemala to the United States, where he began washing and cleaning cars for work. Wilson, though, used his lunch breaks to build a future.

Clean Clothes, Clear Goals

“I wanted to work,” Wilson says. “Everybody who comes to this country wants to work. But window tint was interesting to me. I used to watch the guys. Their clothes and shoes were clean, they were making good money and they were driving good cars. I wanted to be in a position to do something not all can do.”

His friend and tinting co-worker Jackson Ramos further fueled his hunger and motivation during a joint trip to a car dealership. Watching his companion drive off in a brand-new Toyota Tundra truck, Wilson was determined: “I want to learn how to do window tint. I’m going to do it; I’m going to learn it.”

Ramos mentored the tinter-in-training, pushing him to practice the craft during his lunch hour. Cutting and installing film, cleaning windows and sweeping away trash, Wilson put in the time. His work ethic paid off when the businesses’ tinting team was absent for work, leaving the shop’s bays filled with three cars and an opportunity.

“The boss knew that I was interested to learn how to do window tint,” Wilson says. “He asked, ‘Wilson, you want to help me finish those three cars?’ He was answering phone calls and talking with customers, so I started working on a BMW. When he got back, he saw the side windows on the car done. He asked me, ‘You did that?’”

Wilson remembers the BMW 5 Series vividly. The unexpected opportunity led his boss to call his name more often. Within a year, the former detailer snagged a full-time position. He credits Ramos for encouraging his growth and emphasizing the importance of contaminant-free installations.

Full Steam Ahead

Wilson worked part time tinting jobs and ran a mobile business until October 2018, when he and his wife Caren opened Shade of Tint Window Tint in Simi Valley, Calif. Wilson and Ramos lost touch, but the 16-year veteran pays the leadership forward to his team. Caren handles office work, sales, invoices, customer service and advertising at the brick-and-mortar location. His two installers assist with residential and automotive film projects. The shop is doing well, but there were growing pains.

“We noticed that each year has been different,” Wilson says. “The first year was hard because nobody knew about us. The second year, we got more customers and [repeat] customers. I noticed they were coming back with different cars. In the third year, we were busy.”

Like his lunch-hour training sessions, Wilson approached year one with drive. Strolling the streets of California, he knocked on doors, handed out brochures and flyers and notified potential customers of his presence. The company’s first car job came from a Chevrolet dealership in the area—an undertaking that sparked more sales.

The company’s annual sales reflect the couple’s efforts. The Simi Valley startup had $150,000 in sales in 2019, $200,000 in 2020 and an estimated $300,000 in 2021. When Wilson and Caren slow down and reflect on their respective time in the industry, motivators come to light. For Wilson, it’s the art of the deal.

“When I close the deal with a customer, I feel like I made it,” Wilson says. “I got the customer, and that’s one of the goals for me—to get the customer and their business.”

Wilson accomplished that goal many times in 2021. Caren finds satisfaction in connecting with her customers. “When they leave happy … We get so many customers. We get repeat customers and they have different stories. They not only come and bring their car, but a lot of them share their life—their stories,” Caren says.

The husband-wife duo doubled 2019’s sales in 2021, but they’re not satisfied. The team’s next goal involves launching a second location down the road. Their industry journey is just beginning.

“This is my baby—my business. I like to be here every day. I don’t think I’m going to leave. No, this is forever,” Wilson says.

Chris Collier is the assistant editor for Window Film magazine. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook.
ccollier@glass.com

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

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