The New Guy by Chris Collier
by Chris Collier
July 19th, 2023

The Boat Business

Chris Brooks, owner of Kauff’s Tint and Wraps in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., has been tinting boats for 20 years. Now, he’s ready to help others do the same.

Chris Brooks, owner of Kauff’s Tint and Wraps in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., is fully immersed (pun intended) in the boat business. He’s been tinting boats for 20 years and is ready to share his story.

WF: What got you into boat tinting?
Brooks: I live in Palm Beach County, and we have a lot of marinas. I’ve been lucky because I fell into that portion of the industry. A customer asked me if I could look at their boat, and it’s snowballed since then. In my first 10 years, I only did 10 boats per year. Now—in the last 10 years—I’ve averaged 30 boats a year. We did one a few months ago that was 118 feet long.

WF: Was it nerve-wracking tinting boats at first?
Brooks: I had to get over the initial anxiety of never having done it before. The first time I [tinted] a nine-story building, the anxiety leading up to the job was the same as doing this customer’s half-a-million-dollar boat back then. 1998 or 1999 was when I tinted my first boat.

WF: How do you recommend window tinters get involved with the segment?
Brooks: You’ve got to find the right contacts, and you need to touch base with marinas. If you own a boat, you’re already in the boating industry. That’s how you get in touch with someone else. It’s a personal thing—someone’s boat is like their baby. It’s super delicate. A lot of these boats have one hundred or two hundred grand in leather interiors. It’s a riskier job than doing a Ferrari that’s $400,000.

WF: How crucial are marina connections?
Brooks: We have access to 10 marinas in a five-mile radius. Most of these hold 40-60 boats. I have been lucky with word of mouth. During the first 10 years, I had to do boat and home shows. You spend $3,500 to go there for three or four days. You’re not working in the shop and you’re not making any money. It’s a risk. But you’ve got to be willing to take that risk to stick your foot in the door.

WF: Can you detail the installation process?
Brooks: I’m using automotive film for the most part. You have to peel and wet the film like you’ve done, but you’re standing in someone’s yacht. You don’t have room for a peel board. You have to lay out lots of drop cloths or moving blankets to soak up as much water as possible. It’s a similar process to putting on automotive film, but it’s all flat glass. It might have some weird shapes or cuts, but that’s why you make a pattern.

WF: Any tips or tricks for newcomers?
Brooks: The customer will be extra picky. You’re dealing with something that’s way more expensive than a daily car. Half of the time, these boats cost more than your average house. It’s a different clientele. Be careful. I’m not afraid to give you some tips.

Editor’s Note: Brooks has placed in several International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) competitions. Click here to see a full list of past winners. And click here to register for a competition at WFCT 2023. The registration deadline is fast approaching!

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