Competition Corner: Salvador HurtadoJune 29th, 2022 by Chris Collier
An accomplished musician and tinter, Salvador Hurtado is one of the most exciting personalities in the industry. With a Grammy and a tint-off first place medal under his belt, what can’t he do? Big things are on the horizon for Hurtado, and competing demonstrates how he’s gotten to where he is today.
WF: What inspired you to enter the window film industry?
Hurtado: The window film industry was a very small branch of my first job at a place mainly doing rims and tires. We would send our cars for tint to a local shop owned by a well-known guy in the industry named Mike Sanchez, or Dirty. I met Dirty and he offered me my first tinting job. I went from switching tires to learning how to tint at Mike’s place, Tinting Express, and everything moved forward from there. Once I realized I could tint cars anywhere, I moved up to San Antonio and was able to make pretty decent money for my age given my skillset without a college degree yet. It helped me launch forward without giving a second thought to any other career line.
WF: Day to day, what’s your favorite part of the job?
Hurtado: I like when you park the car out in the parking lot, and it’s already passed all inspections. When it’s all done, I lock it up and can look at it—that’s what I like. I like to see the finished product when it’s ready to be seen by all, grabbing the keys and clicking that “doot-doot” button. Along with return customers—I have customers who are on car eight.
WF: What was it like placing first in the 2017 tint-off?
Hurtado: That year was extremely unique because I won both first and third. We’ve never had a first and third before. I first won a bronze medal in architectural, and I thought that was the pinnacle of my career. I thought I had the best day in tinting ever, and I was overjoyed. Then they called up the finalists for the cars while I was already feeling accomplished, thinking to myself, “I did it!” They called my name for first, and I didn’t know what to do, thinking, “Don’t stop breathing, dude!” I wanted to dance a jig and celebrate. I was already full of adrenaline because I had thought I had hit the top with third place. I didn’t realize there was more. It was also a bit of a blessing. It happened to be right after a hurricane hit Texas and took out my roof, and the claim from the insurance was denied. I went to the tint-off and said to my wife, ‘I’m going to win this tint-off and see if I can fix our roof,’ and I did it.
WF: What keeps you competing even after proving yourself?
Hurtado: I love to compete, and in reality, we’re all a family. We compete for about 15 minutes, and after that, you might not compete with each other again. You may compete for 30 minutes, but you’re there for three or four days. The rest of the time, it’s about being together with brothers and sisters in the industry. Outside of tint-offs, once you grow past a certain size, it’s a family as opposed to being strictly competitive—there’s enough work for all of us, so it’s not all about competing. With that being said, I think everybody needs to compete at least once to know what those nerves feel like. It makes us all better, and it brings us together.
WF: How are you feeling entering this year’s competitions?
Hurtado: I’m feeling good. I was originally planning to do decorative and architectural, but I’m still unsure about the decorative competition and its requirements. I might swap [architectural] with auto and then see what the deco’ part is about. I’m looking forward to learning about that.
WF: What is the one thing you’d say to someone interested in entering the industry?
Hurtado: Learn as much as you can about the latest technology and newest products. Tint is an old word—nowadays, it’s a spectrally selective window film that has advanced a lot. It’s the difference between a sound guy and a recording or mastering engineer. Film has advanced to the point of being able to be high-end and high-elegance. Some people don’t realize these new possibilities. If you’re coming into the industry, you need to know that there’s a gamut of things film is used for.
WF: What is the one thing you’d say to someone interested in competing for the first time?
Hurtado: First and foremost: read the rules. Please don’t show up and ask questions that are in the rules. The competition requires you to be a great tinter, but to be the world’s best tinter, you have to have an apt journeyman’s skill set—the ability to follow instructions, the ability to read and write and the ability to tint like a beast. If you don’t have all of those, you won’t be able to be the best on the planet.
WF: What’s your why?
Hurtado: I started playing the guitar at 12, three years before I started tinting. I’ve been on tour all over the country, and I’ve always had a great ability to tint, so I could go on tour and easily get a tint job when I got back. I went on tour with Prince, and the whole time I knew that if music took off for me, I could tint anywhere in the world and pull $100 an hour anywhere I went. Now my “why” is still the same—I have a new album releasing on July 17 called Tint Music. Most tinters will make a tool that they want to sell, but for me, I want to provide a tool that is a free streaming playlist that is customer friendly that you can make money to [while] at the tint shop.
The 21st Annual International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) is just 77 days away. Keep up with competitors as they prepare for their climb to the podium.
Tyler Jubar is a staff writer for WINDOW FILM magazine