Training Day

May 31st, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

Cultivating Next-Gen Installers

By Chris Collier

The window film industry runs on a sought-after resource—skilled installers. A 100-foot roll of film and a squeaky-clean squeegee are of no use without experienced, agile applicators. Key industry suppliers and companies combat the need with training programs for beginners and experts alike.

More Than Film Suppliers

Eastman Performance Films LLC offers training courses for automotive and architectural window film, paint protection film (PPF), and safety film. The company’s automotive window film course lasts three days and consists primarily of hands-on training and one-on-one, supervised skills practice. Its architectural film class spans two days and features hands-on training and education on best practices for film recommendations by application to decrease the risk of glass breakage.

“We offer hands-on training courses for small groups lasting one to three days, depending on the subject,” says Richard Dill, technical services manager for the company. “Courses are taught at our Eastman Training Centers, and we also travel to dealer shops. At any location, expert trainers lead an interactive experience that teaches with a mix of oral presentation, live demonstrations, and one-on-one practice [engagements].”

Madico Inc. tailors its training programs to areas where its dealers require assistance. Its courses feature safety and security films, ClearPlex® Windshield Protection Film, and its Protekt® PPF. Product characteristics, installation techniques, the identification of ideal application circumstances, and marketing strategy are covered in these flexible sessions.

“The programs allow dealers to venture out of their comfort zones and look at areas of business they’re not currently involved or thriving in,” says Jay Larkin, sales development manager at Madico. “It gives them the opportunity to look at [new segments] and make a judgment call on if they want to go in that direction. An example would be getting an automotive tint shop to start installing architectural film on buildings and homes or an architectural film installer to get into installing automotive films or heavy-duty safety/security films.”

Rookies and Veterans

Dane Gregory is the training director at Ceramic Pro. The company’s automotive tinting course launched in December 2020 and has advanced 140 aspiring applicators since. “We offer a three-day, basic training program. That’s a hybrid online and in-person  class,” Gregory says. “We also offer an advanced tint training, a two-day course covering expert techniques with more difficult vehicles.”

Ceramic Pro’s training begins with a six-hour online portion containing educational videos. Trainees absorb information regarding the construction of window film, sales and installation strategies, visible light reflectance (VLR), and Visible Light Transmission (VLT). Students must pass a 50-question test before they arrive at the in-person portion.

“We bring vehicles into a fully-functioning shop, and we have our designated training area,” Gregory adds. “When the individuals come to our facility, it replicates the most-realistic shop environment. We have full cars, not disassembled doors and windows. These are operating vehicles they are working on. It replicates a realistic environment, with occasional customers coming through and watching trainees.”

3M’s automotive window film installer training is two days and includes instruction on film selection, prepping, mixture ratios, trimming and hand-cutting, pre-cut kits, heat forming, and final inspection.

After completing the two-day training, trainees can enter the testing process and have the opportunity to receive a certificate and the designation of 3M Automotive Window Film with Crystalline Preferred Installer. “Whether you’ve been in the industry for 10 or 20 years or you’re brand new, there’s always room to improve and grow,” says Nick Dahm, application engineer at 3M.

A Personal Touch

Marco Cazorla traveled nearly every week in 2021 but not for vacation. The 18-year veteran is an installation trainer at XPEL, where he instructs more than 200 people each year. The company’s window tint training course spans five days.

“The ideal candidate is someone that doesn’t know anything about window tinting,” says Cazorla, who works alongside three other trainers. “We’re going to show how to tint a car, use a plotter, and the Design Access Program. Depending on how the trainee does, we will show them hand-cutting.”

XPEL held its first window tint training session in Salt Lake City, Utah, in November 2015. Cazorla is slotted for extensive PPF training in 2022, but his process remains the same.

“Beginners or advanced—it doesn’t matter,” Cazorla says. “I want to empower my trainees to win at all aspects of life. I’m teaching them a skill, but I’m also [passing on] life lessons. For a week, you get a mental coach.”

Better Business

Practice makes perfect when it comes to placing film on a home, business, boat, tractor, or car, but what about business acumen? Ismail Pereira is the manager of the Window Tinting Business School in Dighton, Mass., and prepares his students for ownership.

“Our students come over to learn the trade and figure out business strategy,” Pereira says. “How they will open up their shop, go on the road and be mobile, or behave being employed by someone that has a shop.”

The classes are held typically during the last week of the month. Sessions consist of three to five students and last five days. The condensed size allows for one-on-one interaction.

“When I have students only interested in the auto industry, we’ll work on cars the whole week,” says Pereira, who began training in 2014. “I do a half-day of flat glass instruction, but we don’t go into the field. For those wanting to learn both sides of the trade, we do one day in the field.” One hundred to 150 people were trained at The Tintstitute in San Luis Obispo, Calif., over the past year.

Founder Austin Cook sticks to one-on-one auto and flat glass training, which enables trainees to experience live projects and interactions in an engaging way.

“When you come for one-on-one training, it’s 50% business strategy and 50% hands-on,” says Cook, who started the program in 2017. “We talk about [tips and tricks] while we’re practicing and training window film. My passion is business; I just happen to be in the window film and PPF industry.”

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