From Auto Tinter to Film Plant Owner 

April 3rd, 2024 by Casey Flores

Shin Soon Lee is not an engineer, but he runs a manufacturing plant. Lee is self-made; even though he’s not a college graduate, he owns and operates an international company worth well over $100 million. This tinter-turned-distributor has achieved the South Korean dream: constructing an exporting powerhouse out of nothing that now provides film for some of the window film industry’s most recognizable brands.

Shin Soon Lee, Nexfil’s founder and president.

From Tinter to Distributor 

Lee started as an automotive window film installer 34 years ago. For four years, he honed his skills tinting vehicle windows, followed by another four years doing architectural installations. Shin then leveraged his film knowledge to become a distributor for LLumar Window Film for Korea.  

At that time, LLumar and SunGuard film made up 70% of the Korean market, he says. Asia was pulling out of its legendary financial crisis and Korean GDP growth was skyrocketing on the recovery, averaging more than 10% over 1999 and 2000 in an already developed economy. Hence, demand was high the distance from manufacturing was an ocean away. 

The delays were difficult to manage, so he decided to swap to domestic-made film. There were two Korean window film manufacturers at the time (now there are at least eight), so he transitioned into a distributor for one of them. It worked for a bit, but Lee soon discovered the manufacturer was selling film directly to his customers, bypassing his distribution model. 

Moving to Manufacturing 

So, he took out a loan and built his own plant. While Korea, void of many natural resources except for being surrounded by the sea, supports and encourages the exporting sector (think Samsung, Kia, Hyundai, LG—all Korean brands), Lee took a loan from the bank and built a plant himself. He didn’t want his business tied to certain conditions that come with receiving help from the Korean government. 

Elements such as Copper bars wait in boxes to be loaded into Nexfil’s $7.5 million sputtering machine.

Now, Nexfil is among the most efficient window film plants on earth, he says. It features six production lines across Korea and seasoned observers of window film plants will notice the film moves through the line extremely fast compared to others around the world. Lee says Nexfil can produce 150 meters of film per minute with a yield rate (the percentage of film usable per production run) of 97.3%. The company is also vertically integrated to a great degree, with everything from polyester extrusion to sputtering to coating and laminating done in-house—a capability only a few global film manufacturers possess. Nexfil produces 100,000 meters of film per day, which Lee believes is the highest output among Korean window film manufacturers.  

Nexfil now attributes 50% of its sales to private label brands in the U.S. market and 20% to Europe—mostly architectural film. The company doesn’t sell much to the domestic Korean market but plans to change that soon.  

Across from one of its existing Icheon plants is land for another of equal size—33,000 square meters. Despite recently opening its sixth production line, Lee expects to need the space in the future.  

This article is from Focus on Film, the weekly e-newsletter that covers the latest news regarding window film and related products, including paint protection film. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Window Film magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

4 comments
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  1. Impressive story!

  2. I have used Llumar and Suntek and i have found over the years that Nexfil’s Nano Ceramic film has the best numbers Lux and Onyva are top of the field . i hope that as he grows that he keeps the prices ehere they are . Llumar your just paying for a name

  3. Great story! It would be nice to see more of the same here in the US.

  4. It’s really impressed.

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