Competition Corner: Chuck CochranJuly 13th, 2022 by Chris Collier
Window tinting isn’t just a business. For some, it’s a life-changing opportunity. For Chuck Cochran, owner of Eastcoast Motorsports in St. Marys, Ga., the “why” behind it all is what drives him forward. The results are a byproduct of his determination.
WF: What inspired you to enter the window film industry?
Cochran: I was in the Navy in 1991, and I had my son who was sick a lot. We spent a lot of time in the car, and the sun bothered him, but I couldn’t afford to get my windows tinted, so I ended up doing it myself. That sprung me into the window film industry because all of my shipmates would have me tint their vehicles, and I started seeing money at an earlier age. I was an entrepreneur anyways, always looking at franchises but not being able to afford one. When I started making money with window film, I thought it could be a good thing.
WF: Did you find that window film was easy to get into?
Cochran: Yes and no. I was in base housing, and I did my car four times before I was satisfied with it, but I was so excited that I talked to all my friends at work about it. They instantly talked about how good it looked and would ask if I could tint their trucks and cars. I told them to buy film at the parts store and pay me $20, and I’d tint their vehicle. I enjoyed it and even invented my tools. For the first 82 cars I did, I used a 1-inch razor blade and a little black squeegee. I even took a handle off of my mom’s Samsonite luggage and screwed a 1-inch razor blade to it for cutting my top edge. I was trying to find a way to perfect it.
WF: What was it like placing second in San Antonio in 2016?
Cochran: I just wanted to place. I didn’t know I would be in the top three or four—I just wanted to be in the top 10 and be relevant amongst my peers. I always tell people who compete to go and have a good time. Winning is a byproduct of competing, and if you have a good time, whether you win or not, you’ll go home happy with it. I love to install film and don’t mind people watching me, and when I got second place, I was on cloud nine. It felt just the same as winning.
WF: The competition is in San Antonio once again this year. Do you think you will have a sense of comfort there, having already found success in San Antonio in the past? Do you have even more drive to take home a first-place trophy?
Cochran: I’m always going to push for first place. Even though I know it’s not the case, I keep the mentality that if somebody can do it, I can do it better. I don’t think I have any real advantages at all, though. I know the people that will be there are humble and good. Anybody can lay a good window that day. The best tinter there can hang the worst windows; you just never know.
WF: How are you feeling entering this year’s competitions?
Cochran: I’m excited. When you get to the event, they have music playing, vendors set up and everyone is walking around with their cool shirts and hats on. You get to watch other people’s techniques, see things you like and see things you don’t like. It’s motivating, too, because you can’t wait to return to the shop and lay the next perfect window.
WF: You’ve been in the industry for so long, is there anything you look forward to learning more about during WFCT 2022?
Cochran: You’re right, I’ve been doing this for 30 years, so what is there? Usually, I use that time to network and watch others install to see if there may be something I can incorporate into my shop. I also find things I don’t like to make sure and avoid them in my store. In my downtime, I try to find things I like about my store and things I don’t like to make changes for the better. I might use that mentality at the event as I walk by different displays or see how people talk and use certain lingo to learn to better my shop.
WF: What is the one key thing you’d say to someone interested in entering the industry?
Cochran: There’s so much to know and many mistakes to make. If you don’t have industry experience, the best way to enter it is to work for somebody in it. Starting your business takes so much, but not necessarily because of money. It’s integrity. There are so many companies with no integrity. If any business is going to succeed, it can’t succeed without integrity—you have to give the customers what they ask for, you have to do the best that you can do and you have to stand behind your product whether the product stands behind itself or not.
WF: What is the one key thing you’d say to someone interested in competing for the first time?
Cochran: You have to do it. It’s a learning experience, and you won’t know what it’s like if you never compete. When you do it, it not only gives you a chance to learn from other competitors, but it might be an opportunity to network, and networking is key to growth. Don’t put it off because it’s rejuvenating and motivating—it will make you a better tinter.
WF: What’s your why?
Cochran: It’s very simple for me. With my previous wife when I was in the Navy, we didn’t have any extra money at all. I was raised by my mother, who [struggled with drugs], and I used to steal food to eat from local grocery stores. Once I found out I was able to make a little money tinting windows, I was able to pay for things and do better with my family. I eventually started making more tinting windows than when I was in the military, and I was able to provide for my family. I didn’t want any of my kids to feel that hunger that I felt when I was younger and I wanted them to have things that I didn’t have. That has always been my motivation.
The 21st Annual International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) is just 63 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