Volume 6, Issue 3, May - June 2002

                        Wide World of Film                                                  
Third Annual International Window Film Conference™ and Expo            
               Draws Nearly 700 From Across the World                                 

by Penny Beverage                                                                                                              

“This is a good chance to meet with one another, and I think that’s what the IWFA is all about.”        —Mike Smith      

There are not many events to draw people from across the world—from Germany, Australia, Egypt, England, Russia and even Yugoslavia. But the Third Annual International Window Film Conference and Expo™ (IWFE) did just that. The three-day forum and trade show drew nearly 700 attendees who came looking to learn about the newest products and latest developments in the industry through both a number of informative seminars and the trade show. 

From left to right:  The 3M Company’s booth stayed filled throughout the show., The 2002 IWFE was held here at the Radisson Bahia Mar Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale., CPFilms demonstrates its own computer pattern system.

In addition, the first International Tint-Off drew nearly 35 contestants from as great a span as the IWFE. Most attendees left with a barrage of information on updates and new products, while Danny Sanders of Atlantic Sun Control took home that and more. As the winner of the first International Tint-Off, Sanders went home with a 4-foot trophy, custom leather jacket and $1000 cash prize. 

Sanders Goes Home with the Title; 
Doiron and Sanchez Close Behind

Clockwise from top left:  Danny Sanders of Custom Sun Control in Atlanta took first in the tint-off., Peter Nachtigall of Germany applies film to the car of choice, the 2002 Mazda 626., Norbert Moura traveled from Bermuda to participate in the first International Tint-Off.

In  addition to the International Window Film Conference and Expo,™ many also stuck around to observe the first International Tint-Off, which was held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center on the third day of the Expo, April 20. Nearly thirty-five contestants competed for the four-foot trophy, custom leather jacket and $1,000 prize. Danny Sanders of Custom Sun Control in Marietta, Ga., took first, with Andrew Doiron of Window Kote in St. Petersburg, Fla., at second and Mike Sanchez of Tinting Express in McAllen, Texas, in third.

Sanders was nominated by his distributor, Gila Distributing, after winning first in its tint-off in February. (See March-April 2002 Window Film, page 6.) Doiron was nominated by Bekaert Specialty Films LLC of Clearwater, Fla., and Sanchez was nominated by Lonestar Window Films in South Lake, Texas.

The contest was divided into three heats, plus a round of finals during which the top five tinters of the group competed for placement. The other two finalists were Robert Edelstein of Trust the Best in Bellevue, Wash., and Dan Shaw of Auto Glass Plus in Bremerton, Wash.

Contestants competed on a 2002 Mazda 626, which proved a challenge for many in the competition. All competitors applied film to the car’s front sidelites and the competitors applied film to the backlite. Because the tint-off was held indoors, the cars’ batteries were disconnected—leaving some with an unusual working condition.

“The first obstacle was probably not being able to roll the window up and down or being able to remove the door panel,” Sanders said. 

In addition, Sanders said that the way the sodder joints protrude from the defroster connections on a Mazda 626 caused him the most difficulty.

Gila president Calvin Hill, who’s known Danny for seven years, stayed to watch his nominee in the competition and cheered him on throughout the event.

“He’s meticulous in his preparation and it pays off,” Hill said. “We were very confident that he would win.”

When the competition ended, the convention hall cleared out quickly—but not Sanders. He stayed to remove every bit of film from the backlite, despite his new status as “Best Tinter in the World.”

Sanders said his formula for winning involves both preparation and thought on the materials used.

“I use quality materials all the way through the job,” he said.

Sanders said he planned to place his trophy in the shop in which he works—next to his other tint-off trophies. The jacket currently being fitted to Danny’s size and he is saving his cash prize to use toward his wedding to Alicia Smith in October.

Planning for next year’s tint-off has also already begun.

Both events, co-sponsored by the International Window Film Association (IWFA) and Window Film magazine, were held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., April 18-20. The IWFE was held at the Radisson Bahia Mar Beach Resort overlooking the beautiful white-sand beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, while the tint-off was held just a few miles down the road at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.

Floating Along
The event kicked off on Thursday, April 20, with seminars on advertising and warranties, given by Peter M. Boyle, a partner in the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, and a security-film attachment demonstration by Scott Haddock of Glasslock and understanding energy conservation by Karen Miller of Bekaert Specialty Films. In addition, the IWFA began offering its solar control, automotive and safety and security accreditation testing and continued offering these throughout the show. This was the first time the safety and security test has ever been offered. Each of these was packed with participants and were left with standing-room only by the end of each session.

The first day of the event was not all business, however. At 6 p.m. attendees boarded a yacht nicknamed the S.S. Madico (for the yacht sponsor) for a tour of the canal adjacent to the hotel. Surrounded by palm trees, water and a setting sun, attendees relaxed for a few hours with food, friends and a great networking opportunity before kicking into full educational gear early the next morning.

Summer School
Everyone got back into business mode the next day as it began with Dave McFadyen’s combined seminar on both getting into the window film business and what to do once you’ve been in the business for awhile and are not sure where to go next. 

The keyword was survival, and McFadyen, who owns American Window Tinting in Denver, offered some tips to his fellow shop-owners and applicators on how to sustain a business in a rough economy (see "Weathering the Storm").

“My viewpoint in surviving in any retail field is professionalism,” he said.

McFadyen suggested that attendees keep track of how their customers hear about their shops and that they always need to maintain an open mind.

“A good 70 percent of all my business is referrals or doing someone’s second home or car,” he said.

In addition, he offered advice on how to maintain high levels of sales in an uncertain economy.
“Try to get in with interior designers. People who use interior designers have money whether the economy’s bad or not,” McFadyen said.

McFadyen’s discussion drew a number of questions, and one of the hottest topics of the day was price. Many wanted advice on how to battle cheap competitors.

“Ask yourself, ‘am I here to service everyone?,’ ‘am I here for cheap customers?,’ or ‘am I here to service people who are willing to pay for the best work?,’” urged McFadyen. “If you’re a guy that’s eager to please, [customers] will be eager to let you please.”

Later, Neil Sklar, an attorney associated with the International Hurricane Protection Association and the National Association of Home Builders, educated a packed room of nearly 60 with a discussion of lien law.

The discussion focused on subcontractors who don’t receive payment for their services—particularly when the general contractor has been paid. Sklar encouraged attendees to enforce their lien rights.

“File your claim of lien with 90 days after the work is done, and then file a lawsuit within the year after that,” Sklar said.

Lien law allows most subcontractors to remove their services when not paid, but because window film could be considered a fixture, Sklar urged attendees to seek monetary retribution, and to leave the film alone since it would be useless to them once removed.

Slutsky asked Robert Edelstein to name all of the brands of toothpaste he could in 30 seconds to demonstrate the power of memory.

In the afternoon everyone took a chance for some comic relief—and some great marketing tips—when keynote speaker Jeff Slutsky of Columbus, Ohio, took the podium. His speech was sponsored by St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Film Technologies International and the lunch was sponsored by Johnson Window Films of Carson, Calif. 

Slutsky, the author of “Streetfighting,” explained the concept.

“Streetfighting is an attitude,” Slutsky said.

He recalled some examples and encouraged listeners, who were enjoying a lunch sponsored by Johnson Window Films, to try similar tactics. For example, Slutsky told the story of a mom-and-pop pizza parlor that came up against some competition from Dominoes pizza. The nationwide pizza chain placed a full-page Yellow Pages ad on the page before theirs, causing their business to slow to a halt.

“They placed an ad that said ‘bring us the Dominoes ad out of your Yellow Pages and we’ll give you 2-for-1 pizzas,’” remembered Slutsky.

Drawing from that story, Slutsky reminded his audience that price is an issue—but it’s not the only issue.

Also, Slutsky offered advice on direct mail. “When you think of mailing something, be a streetfighter and be unusual,” he said. “Remember the kinds of stuff people open—personalized postcards, wedding invitations and greeting cards—and make your direct mail look like that.”

He also suggested people use catchy slogans to go with the theme of the card, such as a Valentine’s Day card that says, “We’d love to do business with you,” or a Las Vegas postcard that says something like, “Don’t gamble your film needs away.”

Another streetfighting technique Slutsky suggested was to ask the customer a number of questions about his needs—rather than assuming you know them—so that you can sell to him what he is looking to buy.

Finally, Slutsky reminded listeners of the power of a memorable name—including his own—and giving customers something to remember you by.

On Friday afternoon and Saturday morning attendees returned to the classroom for more education from such industry experts as code consultant Vicki Lovell, IWFA president Mike Smith and Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries’ Victor Skukalek.

Lovell updated attendees on the newest code updates—particularly in the state of Florida, where the new Florida Building Code was recently instated on March 1—that might affect window film applicators. She also provided a discussion on how code changes are affected in the various code bodies, including the International Code Council.

IWFA executive director Darrell Smith joined Lovell in informing the crowd of the latest updates in the wired-glass debate, which could have some implications for the film industry. (See "Newsworthy"  for related story.)

Slutsky’s Top Tips

Keynote speaker Jeff Slutsky offered a number of tips for shop owners to utilize once they returned home, including the following.

•Remember that price is an issue—but it’s not the only issue.

•When sending direct mail, remember the kinds of mail that people really like to open and mimick them with your mailing. Examples include postcards, wedding invitations and Valentine’s Day cards. Use catchy slogans to go with the theme of the card, such as a Valentine’s Day card that says, “We’d love to do business with you,” or a Las Vegas postcard that says, “Don’t gamble your film needs away.”

•Ask the customer a number of questions about his needs—rather than assuming you know them—so that you can sell to him what he is looking to buy.

•Remember the power of a memorable name and give your customers something to remember you by.

The Latest Trends
Finally, Skukalek braved the crowd with his detailed presentation on the latest trends in architectural glass—namely PPG’s SunClean self-cleaning glass, which was released last September.

“I was pretty scared when I was first asked to do this presentation. I didn’t think you all would want to hear me and thought I might be construed as the enemy,” joked Skukalek. “But then I walked around the trade show and realized that film is applied on the inside, so we can get along.”

Skukalek explained the process by which SunClean removes dirt from itself and fielded questions on how applying window film to the glass might affect it. (See January-February 2002 Window Film, page 16, for related story.)

Products on Parade
Left to right:  Cheryl Hill of Gila Distributing both exhibited at the trade show and attended the tint-off., (left to right) Peter Stanisic, Steve Marcetic and Uros Marcetic are all Llumar dealers who traveled a long way to come to the IWFE. Marcetic hails from Yugoslavia.

Each afternoon of the event was spent seeing all of the new products that the industry has to offer. In addition, a new product breakfast—a new addition to the event this year—gave exhibitors a chance to place the spotlight on their products and explain their features and benefits to the multitudes. The breakfast was sponsored by Performance Tools Distributing.
Mike Smith, president of the IWFA, began the breakfast with some comments on the Expo itself.

“This is a good chance to meet with one another, and I think that’s what the IWFA is all about,” Smith said.

Ginny Kubler of Martinsville, Va.-based CPFilms Inc. took the stage to show her company’s newest launch, SUVShield.™

“One thing people complain about is that there’s a lot of factory-tinted glass out there with [sports utility vehicles] getting more and more popular,” Kubler said.

However, Kubler said the surge actually provides a good opportunity for applying film to these vehicles’ sidelites so they will match the rest of the already-factory-tinted car.
In addition, she noted the company’s new glass enhancement films, which are available in both decorative and patterned.
Calvin Hill of Gila Distributing presented two new products his company now offers, including PPG’s Aquapel, a coating that repels dirt and water and lasts from four to six months. Hill suggested that this might make a good add-on sale for dealers.

“For many years we’ve just been selling window film, but now we have many things we can add on,” Hill said. 

A representative from MacTac USA also told attendees about its newest product launch, PermaSun. According to the company, the coating is applied to the outside of the glass and can decrease the temperature inside to 40 degrees almost immediately—saving energy costs in the summer months.

Martinsville, Va.-based Commonwealth Laminating exhibited its new InfinityOP™ series of auto films, an all-metal film with high optical clarity, neutral color, low visual reflectance, fast-drying time and a lifetime warranty. In addition, Commonwealth Laminating offered the Symphony dual-reflective series of residential and commercial films. 

Johnson Window Films of Carson, Calif., gave demonstrations of the film application on the backlite of a 1980s model Toyota Tercel. In addition, the company promoted its revamped flat-glass training program and courses at its own Johnson University. 

Clearwater, Fla.-based Bekaert Specialty Films LLC had a large booth in which it demonstrated its Computer Cut Pattern Output system, along with its Panorama line of window films, both of which were met with great interest. In addition, the company promoted its ClearShield paint-protection film as a profitable, easy add-on sale for any film applicator. 

Saint Paul, Minn.-based 3M Company offered a number of new selections at the show, including its new Night Vision film. The Night Vision film has a neutral color and a low-interior reflectiveness. 

St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Film Technologies International exhibited its new FILM STAR program, a marketing program for its dealers, its newest automotive film, Endurance EX, its automotive Diamond program for dealers and its newest flat-glass film, Elite. 

Woburn, Mass.-based Madico Inc. exhibited its Lumisty film, which appears clear when you look straight through it, but opaque at an angle. 

One of the IWFE’s newest exhibitors was Nissan Chemical America, a company which manufacturers some of the components of film itself. 

“We’ve seen many of our customers and some potential ones,” said a representative from Nissan.

Planning Ahead
Left to right:  Tom Byrd of Bekaert Specialty Films tells an attendee about his company’s newest products., Most of the tint-off contestants gather for a group photo after the grueling event.

Attendees left the IWFE with a barrage of information and new skills that are now being put to use in their shops across the world.

“I’m finding lots of new products and services I can add on to my business,” said Keven Rustad, the owner of Window Guard in Cudjoe Key, Fla.

Eric Bartholomay of Toray Plastics, who traveled from Rhode Island to attend the show, said as a manufacturer of polyester film he found the entire event helpful.

“As a polyester film producer it was extremely useful to be able to see things from the dealer’s perspective,” Bartholomay said. “ I most appreciated the session about surviving in business for more than one year, and how one overcomes (or doesn’t) the $1-million-per-year hurdle.”

Of course it’s never too early to start planning for next year.

The sponsors of the event, the IWFA and Window Film magazine, have already begun planning next year’s event. The location has not yet been determined, but several sites are under consideration, along with several dates—all of which are in the early spring. So get ready now so you don’t miss next year’s big event—the only one dedicated purely to the window film industry. WF

Penny Beverage is the editor of Window Film magazine.


© Copyright 2002 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.