Maximizing Opportunities September/October 2022

August 29th, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

Joe Cobbe’s Hall of Fameworthy Career

By Chris Collier

The Window Film Hall of Fame is home to inspirational industry leaders with storied careers built on determination and grit. From Ed Golda’s 2014 induction in the first year to Lisa Winckler’s in 2021, the Hall is varied. 2022’s inductee is Maxpro Window Films president/CEO Joe Cobbe, who received nominations from several window film industry peers and impressed the selection committee with his long-time commitment to the industry.

He’s an Industry Igniter

Cobbe founded Commonwealth Film in 1985 and Commonwealth Laminating and Coating in the early 1990s. Eastman completed the acquisition of Commonwealth Laminating and Coating, manufacturer of SunTek Films, in 2013.

Cobbe’s roots are in the military, but his public service is expansive. Drafted into the U.S. Army, Cobbe served from November 1966 to September 1969 and earned the rank of First Lieutenant. Cobbe, a Certified Public Accountant, served as the mayor of Martinsville, Va., from 2004 to 2006. He helped create Maxpro in 2012.

“Opportunity and hard work—being able to recognize opportunity and putting the work in to accomplish it,” says Cobbe of his varied career paths.

Cobbe’s induction into the Window Film Hall of Fame will take place during the 21st Annual International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) at San Antonio’s Henry B. González Convention Center on September 14 at 9:15 a.m.

“It’s a surprise and an honor,” Cobbe says. “There are a lot of folks that have been in this business a lot longer than I have and are probably more deserving. I am flattered for it to happen; it’s a great industry with a lot of great people.”

Early Riser

“I’ll get up at 5:30 a.m., and I’ll have an email from him,” says Ron Foley, senior vice president at Maxpro. “We’ll correspond, and that filters throughout the workplace with everyone engaging with what they’re doing.”

Foley’s business partnership with Cobbe extends 13 years, collaborating in the past at Commonwealth Laminating and Coating and in the present at
Maxpro. Foley says his colleague’s upcoming Hall of Fame induction is well deserved.

“He’s done so much for the industry—all the window film companies he’s started, the people he’s met and all the people he’s employed,” Foley says. “There’s no telling how many people he’s personally responsible for having jobs and a good living. Every year, whether business was good or bad, everyone got Christmas bonuses. If someone needed something, he tried to make it happen; a great guy altogether.”

Elizabeth Dillon, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Maxpro, shares a connection of more than 20 years with Cobbe. She says he is “always smiling” and likes making others feel appreciated. “Joe has been involved in the window film industry for a long time,” she says. “Most folks have no idea exactly what all he’s done to help start the industry.”

“Joe is a kind person,” Dillon adds. “He truly cares for folks and tries to make everyone from his management team to the sales staff to the warehouse and shipping team feel important. Joe calls everyone by their name.”

Changing Tides

“The competition from a manufacturing standpoint is much greater,” Cobbe says of film industry progression during his lengthy career. “Product offerings have increased tremendously. When I got started, it was dyed and metalized film. Now we have carbon, ceramic and high-tech [films]. Today’s quality is hundreds of times better than 20 years ago.”

Cobbe has witnessed industry evolutions firsthand and believes those developments will generate long-term consumer interest.

“There’s constantly going to be a demand for window film because of people being aware of energy consumption and knowing what it can do to protect you from ultraviolet (UV) rays when driving,” he says. “I can’t imagine what kind of products there will be 10 years from now. The way it keeps evolving and the way [manufacturers] keep developing different products, I can’t imagine. But I think there will be demand for a long time.”

Beyond Products

“The average person tends to think window film is that bubbled-up stuff on the back of the car in front of them at the stop light,” Cobbe says of industry perception. “But window film is much more sophisticated. It’s a small industry, relatively speaking, in terms of the number of players. But everybody knows everybody, and the industry has almost a family-type feel even though we are competitors.”

As suppliers solidify product lines with more refined options for consumers, Cobbe reflects on the applicators responsible for industry-wide advancement.

“People tend to think of window tinters as technicians; I see them as artists,” Cobbe says of installers. “The skills required, the constant [need] for them to improve their skills, get it better and get it done more quickly—the people in this industry are neat people.”

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

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