Volume 6, Issue 5, September - October 2002

War Stories
Film Dealers Share Their Biggest Mistakes and Funniest Stories
by Leslie Shaver

Every film applicator who has been in the business long enough has a story. Whether it is about putting the wrong film on the wrong window or having to deal with an irate customer, everyone seems to have a regret or two in business.

This month Window Film magazine talked to a number of those film applicators. The subject started out on their biggest regrets, but soon took a turn for the zaniest, craziest, strangest thing that happened to them since they have been in the film business. With a couple of 20- to 30-year industry veterans included in the discussion, there was certainly no shortage of stories (including ones that focused on processes that are so obsolete that some younger film applicators may not even recognize them). Following are some of these stories.

Bad Beginnings
As anyone who tinted windows back in the 1970s knows, applying liquid or film to windows was not as easy—or as clean—as it is today. Dan S. Villamil, owner of Window Tints, etc.—Hollywood Inc. of Hollywood, Calif., is one liquid/film applicator who can attest to this.
In June 1976, Villamil’s first job was with Sun Protective of Redondo Beach, Calif. In those days, applicators used something called liquid tint, a fluid that was sprayed and then flowed onto windows to adhere color. The flow came from a canister. 

The canister had two pumps—one to suck liquid back in and one to send the flow out. The flow then went through a hose, which had a nozzle at the end to regulate the flow pressure.

In one of Dan’s first jobs, he watched as his boss inspected the nozzle. The boss shut the valve and pulled the tube closely to inspect it when a burst of air went through the hose. This sent a burst of liquid tint through the hose and into the boss’s face, which happened to sport a full beard.

“I could not help but laugh,” Villamil said.

Unfortunately, Villamil’s laughter also earned him a pink slip.

Just after moving to the Northwest from Texas, Robert Edelstein, owner of Trust the Best in Seattle, was working as a contract labor foreman re-tinting a 50-story building in downtown Seattle. After finishing the first side of the building, he became the sub-contractor on the second side, which faced south. He hired an acquaintance who was a member of a local comedy troupe and had no experience in the window film industry. 

On the first day of work the comedian-turned-tinter took the vertical blinds off the windows on the 50th floor and put them on the nearest piece of nice furniture. He then took off the P19 film from the same windows. In a rare event for January in Seattle, the sun actually came out the next morning and the occupants, who happened to be lawyers, were not exactly comfortable. 

“The sun is so low in the sky at that time of year and with the film and blinds gone and certainly no shade at fifty stories up, the result was brutal, the lawyers were up in arms because they were burning up,” Edelstein said. “When I arrived for work at 10 the next morning I was told some threatened to sue and others said they would not pay their rent.” 

Luckily, Edelstein figured out a way to remove and apply the film without removing the blinds. 

Grand Theft Auto
It was a trip out in the field that Zoilo Centeno of Wintech Professional Window Tinting of Costa Mesa, Calif., will never forget. It is not what actually happened at the estimate that is etched in Centeno’s memory, but what was developing back at the office.

As Centeno was estimating a job an hour and a half away in Los Angeles, he received a phone call. The voice on the other end told him something he never expected to hear—his partner, Salvador Dena, was in handcuffs down in the underground parking garage where the window tinting takes place. What seemed like a simple mistake by a technician made for a very interesting afternoon in Costa Mesa.

It all started when a Wintech technician was asked to take a silver 1996 Jetta down to the garage and tint the vehicle while the customer waited for the job. The technician found a Jetta, inserted the key and drove it downstairs to be tinted. Two hours later, Dena drove the vehicle out to the upper parking lot so the technicians could keep working on other jobs. As Dena drove up the exit ramp, he noticed two police cars blocking the access to the upper parking lot. He decided to reverse the vehicle to leave it down in the parking garage. At the same time, a police officer saw him reversing the vehicle and began running after him with his weapon drawn.

The police pulled Dena out of the car and had him on his knees in handcuffs. “Do you have the keys to this car?” he asked. 

“Of course. Didn’t you see me driving it?” Dena said. 

“Do you know this vehicle is reported stolen?” the officer said. 

“You’re making a mistake. The customer is upstairs waiting in our office,” Dena responded. As Dena was being detained, the other technicians were still in shock. Yet, Dena had the wherewithal to instruct his employees to quit gawking and finish the four cars they had left for the day. The officers were not happy with his instruction, though, and told him to be quiet.

“You’re the ones making the mistake, why should our dealership accounts be delayed in getting their cars back?” Dena said.

Eventually, the police discovered their mistake. The Wintech technician who brought the car down for tinting found a white 1992 Jetta that used the same key. So he brought it down to the parking garage. The police took the key for the 1996 Jetta from Wintech and another key from the owner of the 1992 Jetta and inserted them into each vehicle. They worked on both cars. 

No one, including the officers, could believe that cars in the same parking lot would use the same key. After a good laugh, Dena was released and the owner of the 1992 Jetta received a free tint job.

Wrong Way
Laurence Streidel, owner of Interior Guardz Window Coating and Tinting LLC in Kensington, Md., had an interesting request from a customer once. The customer, a young man in his late teens or early twenties, came in complaining that he could not see out of any of his windows (with the exception of his windshield). 

“He said, “Everyone can see me, but I can’t see out,’” Streidel said.

With one quick glance at the car, Streidel knew what was wrong.

“I told him that he put the film on the outside of the glass,” he said.

Needless to say, Streidel and his staff had a good laugh about that one for awhile.

Brien Looney, owner of Atlantic Sun Control in Manassas, Va., had a similar story with a slightly different twist. 

He once received a call from an irate customer wondering why there were dust and bugs sticking to the windshield of his car after a tint job.

Looney knew immediately what his new employee had done. “He had put the film on backwards,” he said.

When told about his error, the suddenly enlightened employee had an answer to one of his biggest questions.

“He said that he had always wondered why the squeegee did not slide as he tinted the car,” Looney said. 

Leslie Shaver is a contributing editor for Window Film magazine.


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