Volume 6, Issue 3, May - June 2002

IWFA Update
Mike Smith                                                                    

IWFA ... Good For the Industry or Worthless?

This question was posed recently on a film applicators’ web site that several applicators visit daily. I happened to be “sneaking” around the site when I noticed this question and couldn’t help but investigate what was being said. Even though I know there is a segment of our industry that doesn’t support the industry association, I have to admit that I had no idea of the extent of negative attitudes possessed by some in the industry. 

As I read the many posts—some in defense of the association—I realized that many of the comments were either only partially true or false altogether. The applicators were sincere in their opinions but were misinformed nonetheless.

Going Undercover
After a few days of investigating the site and watching the errant information continue to proliferate, I entered the fray, incognito. Unfortunately, several of the “board members” connected my surfing name, “lmsmitty,” with me and, within a couple of days, my true identity was revealed. You should have seen the words fly then! Both the IWFA and I became the target of several critical comments and derogatory innuendos. 

Once uncovered, I decided to become a very regular “poster” on the site. I answered many questions and tried to correct many misconceptions about the IWFA. Though it took several weeks, I believe I gained the trust and confidence of many, if not most, of the applicators on the site. We spoke (and speak) frankly about issues involving our industry. I offer them the “straight” skinny, as best I can, to questions they have, and the tone of many former IWFA dissenters has changed radically.

The Value of Communication
What made the difference? Communication! We each listen willingly to the other’s point of view, not necessarily agreeing but willing to listen. And, misconceptions and misunderstandings have been aired, discussed, corrected with facts, and (I believe) mutual respect has been established. Though not everyone on the site has run out to join the IWFA, some have. And others now have a more accurate understanding of what the association is doing and why it needs the support of many more of our industry’s professionals.

What Has the IWFA Done?
In response to the question, “what has the IWFA done?,” for those who came to the International Window Film Conference and Expo™ (IWFE), you know what great information was available (see "Wide World of Film"  for related story). Many attendees took the “Solar Control Specialist” accreditation testing. Many more sat for the new Automotive Accreditation and Safety and Security Accreditation instruction and tests. Most of these will become the first wave of accredited industry specialists in these areas.

Several seminars and training classes were offered. Some of them were so popular that there was standing room only for late-comers! There were roundtable discussions and informal networking opportunities, discussions with manufacturers and their representatives and new product introductions to help shops expand their offerings and profitability. Finally, to the question “IWFA … good for the industry or worthless?”—as I said before, for those who take advantage of all it has to offer, it is invaluable. For those on the sidelines waiting to see … we need each other. As in most opportunities in life—you only get back in direct proportion to what you put in. Our industry will not grow substantially without the professionalism being spawned by the IWFA. The IWFA cannot grow without the active participation of many more dedicated tint professionals. Please join our crusade!             WF

Mike Smith is the branch manager of Sun-Gard Southwest in Tempe, Ariz., and president of the International Window Film Association.


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