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July 27th, 2023 by Nathan Hobbs

The Magic of Our Diverse Industry

Have you ever taken a step back to look at our industry and wondered how you got there? It’s boutique, little-known and fascinating at the same time. Each of us has a unique story about what led us here—some good, some bad. For many, the film industry was supposed to be a temporary layover to something “better.” But in speaking to customers and observing industry friends online for many years, it appears that once the film business grabs you, it never lets you go. And no one wants to leave it either.

Breaking it Down

At the risk of sounding corny, I think this industry is magical for many reasons. Despite our humble roots, we’ve come a long way, both in terms of infrastructure and attitude.

What started as the window film industry has grown to include paint protection film (PPF), color change vinyl wrap, ceramic coatings, windshield protection, decorative finishes, anti-graffiti, daylight redirecting, bird safety and much more. And this not-so-little industry has a significant infrastructure that supports it:

1. The International Window Film Association (IWFA) is the unified industry body that lobbies on our behalf and is a valuable resource for technical information. And regarding technical information, multiple training schools have surfaced to help new members enter the industry properly by offering extensive training.

2. We have an industry trade publication in Window Film magazine, published every other month without fail and supplemented by a
significant online presence and trade show. Furthermore, Window Film magazine has recognized the impact of PPF on our industry by publishing a supplement magazine titled PPFMag.

3. Industry members can participate in multiple trade shows to learn and network. The International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) is one of those.

4. There are many social media forums that support our industry with the free exchange of ideas and advice. There are even multiple industry
podcasts such as Tint Wizdom, The Dark Truth, InCREDITable KASH, EPD’s AM Drive-In, and It’s Just A Cup Of Coffee.

5. The number of brands and manufacturers of these aforementioned products has increased substantially, bringing additional marketing resources which drive consumer awareness and benefit us all.

6. Films and coatings drive other industries, such as the installation tools industry. Innovation and enhancements to squeegees, blades, knives and sprayers never cease.

7. We’ve transitioned from an industry composed 100% of “mom and pop” dealers to one that includes those with a national footprint. Some of which are part of a franchise business model.

An Attitude Shift

Part of the magic is that our collective attitude has changed for the better. What used to be an industry of people fighting for the same piece of the pie has become one where we now help each other, recognizing that the pie has gotten substantially larger and there is plenty for everyone.

I often see that industry members comment in relevant social media forums that there is “enough work for everyone.” And they’re right. There is so much architectural/automotive glass and vehicular sheet metal that has never been filmed or coated that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.

In this new spirit of collaboration and cooperation, I see success stories like Tinters for a Cause helping industry members in need. I see friendships among competitors. And I see veterans assisting new members by offering good advice through social media.

Diverse Products

The final piece of magic is how diverse our product offerings are. Just look to the automotive installer who has tint, PPF, vinyl, ceramic coatings and windshield protection as their product offerings. The ability to cross-sell is incredible, making it easier to turn that $300 sale into a $1,000 sale.

Consider the architectural dealer, who has sun control, insulating, security and decorative film products in their mix. Loss of sun control volume from large buildings that remain unoccupied due to COVID can be offset by an uptick in school safety. With the ability to serve multiple markets, there is a good chance that when one product line is down, another one is up.

I’m still as passionate as I was 20 years ago when I started in this industry. There is something new to learn and conquer every day. Whether it’s a new product or market, there is no shortage of opportunity in the film industry. And the opportunity to turn one dollar into five dollars is magic in and of itself.

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

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

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