Volume 8, Issue 5, September-October 2004
Boom or Bust?
The State of the Security Film Market
by Brigid O'Leary
In October 2003, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued its Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) 4-010-01, outlining the requirements for government buildings to keep occupants safe. These precautions include window film and laminated glass in fenestration.
As is common knowledge, the General Services Administration (GSA) has set guidelines for the levels of protection that must be provided by glazing. This ranking defines exactly what constitutes protection.
An Elusive Market
So, with the DoD and the GSA encouraging or, in some cases, mandating the use of security film, the window film community should be treading on streets of gold.
To say that the market has gone that way is debatable.
Scott Haddock, president of the Protective Glazing Council and owner of GlassLock, an attachment and retrofitting company out of San Jose, Calif., does 98 percent of his business with the federal government.
“It’s a different animal itself with all the paperwork that goes with it,” Haddock said. “It’s unique that the sales cycle is much longer. We’ve worked on some projects as long as 18 months.”
Time isn’t the only factor that may deter window film dealers. They first have to get the job.
“The government [market] is hard to break into,” said Peter Davey, president of American Window Film.
Even within the government market, the degree of protection required depends much on the degree of threat.
“The degree of security depends on the agency,” Davey said. “[Some agencies] are more sensitive than others.”
Top of Mind Awareness
The government is not the only market for security film. Plenty of commercial entities need protection, too. One factor cited consistently in interviews for this article was the public’s lack of awareness of security window film.
“It’s such a passive product that it’s hard to tell it’s there,”
Bob Swartley of Tint Pro in Collegeville, Pa.
He pointed out that when the threat level is upgraded, more people close deals to get their windows filmed. His statements turned out to be prophetic. Within two weeks of his interview, new terror alerts were issued and The Washington Post printed a front page story reflecting a sudden spike in the sale of window film.
The Post interviewed several industry members, including Troy Vlahos with Baltimore’s Energy Product Distribution who indicated a surge of calls after the announcement.
However, it still takes actions —either terror announcements or actual acts — to spur many companies into investing in security film.
“Until we see a spike in interest, we’re not going to see [a boom in business]. … if we don’t have any incidents for a while, people will take an out-of-sight, out of mind approach and the sales will drop,” said Haddock.
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