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April 4th, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

The Nuances of Installation Tools

By Manny Hondroulis

As a film distributor, I’ve always looked at installation tools as necessary evils. Before anyone gets upset, let me explain. I freely admit they are essential. Without them, film can’t be installed, and then we must search for new lines of work. Why do I use the term evil? Because there are so many tools manufactured by various companies—in so many colors, sizes, textures, and firmness levels, it’s overwhelming.

Knowledge is King

In the 20 years I have been in the industry, my focus has been creating end-user awareness. After all, consumer knowledge of our industry’s products and services is quite low. I always deemed it a better use of time to educate consumers about automotive and architectural films to make my dealers’ phones ring rather than further my knowledge of industry basics.

One of my New Year’s resolutions—I’m not joking—was to become an expert at tools and for my company to better provide them to my film customers. And for reasons previously described, it has become an overwhelming task.

I set out to make good on my resolution, and developed a plan. The first step was to review tools we currently sell and determine what additional items we should be selling. The second was to increase the inventory levels of each stock-keeping unit (SKU). The third was to raise company knowledge surrounding each product. The final step— which has yet to occur—is to offer them for sale in an online store.

I have learned more than I ever thought possible, and I want to share my primary takeaways from this two-month process with you.

What I Learned

It seems that there is no right or wrong tool for a specific step within the installation process—much is based on installer preference. Aside from making an obvious mistake, such as using a blade known to cut glass, an installer has several options. One installer may use a squeegee or hard card to install auto tint; another may use the same instruments to install paint protection film (PPF). A reach tool an installer uses for cars may not be appropriate for the same function on an SUV.

The tool an installer uses to lay down one type of film may not be what s/he uses for another kind of film— even though the installation process is similar. That’s because different films react differently to various products and installation techniques. The amount of pressure applied by the hand, to the film, and through the tool plays a factor.

One installer might experience scratched film—another may not. How the tool is used, not the product itself, contributes to the results. One installer may apply more pressure or use a different angle with the squeegee than a fellow industry member.

What I learned by trying to become a tool expert (I use “expert” loosely) is that everything is subjective. Function and the result are based on the installer, pressure, technique, film, car, glass, paint, surface, curvature, temperature, and other factors. That explains why there are so many uniquely different products on the market. But, what have I really learned in this process? Truthfully, I’ve developed a fondness for tools. They’re no longer a necessary evil but an industry enabler. I now wonder how my company would be if I had adopted this mindset earlier.

Manny Hondroulis is the vice president of Energy Distribution Products in Baltimore.

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

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