Residential Revolution

February 23rd, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

Palmetto Protection Films Leads the Charge

By Chris Collier

Myrtle Beach-based Palmetto Protection Films rarely services vehicles. In fact, only 2% of business falls in the automotive film segment. Seventy-five percent of the businesses’ projects are residential and 23% are commercial, and owner Matthew Yelle prefers it that way.

Focused on Flat Glass

“It’s too risky compared to what I do with houses,” Matthew says of auto films. “There’s no electronics in the window. That doesn’t scare me, but it’s something I don’t want to put on my plate. I do what my company has been great at, which is flat glass.”

Matthew started working at a flat-glass-only company when he was 18 after a stint in floor cleaning. The 20-year veteran wasn’t able to go all-in on residential projects when he founded his first company in August 2020, but it wasn’t for lack of desire.

“When you start your own business, you’re grasping at straws,” Matthew says. “You’re going to do anything and everything that you can do. When I got cars, I would do cars. I taught myself other aspects of doing cars—heat shrinking—and then I became good at doing cars. I was getting flat glass work at the same time. All of a sudden, it took off with only flat glass.”

After attending the 2021 Home Improvement and Outdoor Living Show at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center last September, owners Matthew and his wife Kristy saw a residential ripple effect. “One person would get it done by us. Other homeowners would come over, check it out and love it,” Matthew says.

The company had an estimated $100,000 in sales in 2021 even though they started up during the height of the pandemic.

“A lot of people didn’t know it was hot in their house,” Matthew says. “They were like, ‘I had no idea at 12 noon that the sun came in here and cooked my office.’”

Neighborly Advice

Matthew currently is training his first hire, 20-year-old Donovan Whitley, and understands the complexities of the learning process. He recalls his initial experience with 8-mil safety, security film.

“When you’re 18, and you’ve never touched a piece of safety and security film—it will cut you like a razor,” Matthew says. “It’s like a paper cut times eight. It’s intimidating. I remember saying, ‘Man, how am I going to do this?’ But it paid off. Within a year, I was killing it.”

He hopes Whitley’s experience mirrors his own. “If you’re not a people person, you’ll be challenged by this job,” Matthew says. “I am a people person because I know so much about window film and I’m comfortable with it. I can answer questions that would sometimes stump someone who hasn’t done flat glass. That’s a challenge-yourself moment. There’s an opportunity for people that are doing automotive.”

What happens when a customer’s expectations are sky-high? He recently dealt with non-removable, arched wooden transoms on several windows that made his work day challenging.

“I was able to talk to the homeowner and explain it to them,” Matthew says. “This is what it’s going to look like because [they’re] old windows and it’s painted. We’re doing everything we can to make sure it’s right. We want to make sure you’re happy. They’re usually respectful to the fact I called and brought something to their attention.”

Matthew and Kristy’s tech-savvy son designed the businesses’ logo, which is displayed proudly on the company’s van.

“We sat down with our son,” Matthew says. “I said, ‘I want the state, the flag and want this blue.’ That goes into our branding for being blue. I mention that to every customer when I hand them my card. I tell them my son designed it. They go, ‘Are you kidding me?’ … Super proud of that.”

Residential Reflections

Palmetto Protection Films is only a year and a half into business, but Matthew and Kristy are already making a name for themselves. The company was named Madico’s Dealer of the Quarter for Q4 2021. This year, Kristy aims to hire one to two more employees. She says the 2021 International Window Film Conference and TintOff™ (WFCT) was the highlight of her year.

“We were able to afford to go to the conference,” Kristy says. “It was worth every penny from the connections that we made there, with people from all over the United States. It’s worth its weight in gold to know those people and to have that encouragement. And if you ever need anything or have questions, all you have to do is reach out and ask people.”

Matthew aims to adopt the mindset that nothing is impossible for 2022.

“Maybe it [involves] humongous square footage and one person getting it done in a certain time,” Matthew says. “[It could be] doing home installs all day long, and then doing schools from five to nine o’clock at night—just getting it done.”

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

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