Volume 8, Issue 4, July-August  2004


FTI Names New President

St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Film Technologies International Inc. (FTI) named David Fletcher as its president in March of this year, replacing Don Wheeler who has retired from the position.

Prior to joining FTI, Fletcher was president of Bekaert Specialty Films. He has been in the industry since graduating from college with a chemistry degree. Fletcher left Bekaert in September 2003 and was approached by Wheeler with the proposal to join FTI. The transition, so far, has been smooth.

“I think it’s going really well. It’s been a hectic two months, I’ll have to say that. I’ve discovered a terrific level of enthusiasm in the work force here,” he said. “[Don has] been very supportive during this transition period. He’s really acted as a mentor while allowing me to establish myself in the new role. Don remains chairperson of the board and has really stepped back from the day-to-day operations.”

Part of the transition for Fletcher has been familiarizing himself with a new company. He has visited the company’s U.S.-based distributors, which are a diverse group that he sees only continuing to grow.

“Currently, we have a mixture of company owned distribution and some very strong independent distributors,” he said. “I would see in the future that we would continue to have a mix.

He’s also been boning up on the FTI products.

“My biggest surprise was in finding that we offer such a large range of Sun Gard window films,” he said. “I wasn’t really familiar with it, even though I’ve been in the industry and competing with FTI for such a long time.”
On the job only a few months, Fletcher has plans for the company’s future.

“We’ve put a plan in place to invest a significant amount of money over the next two years for upgrading equipment and increasing our production capacity,” he explained. 

Leading such an extensive project is just part of Fletcher’s role as president. When asked what challenges he would face in his new position, he thought for a moment before responding.

3M Distributor Keeps Window Film Dealers Ahead of the Game
Energy Products Distribution (EPD), the East Coast distributor of 3M film, has created EPD University, a classroom training course that provides 3M window film dealers with a forum to share ideas and business practices.

The classes run two days at a time and sessions have been held in February, March and April in Baltimore. Participants use interactive and experience-based learning to cover topics such as target marketing, multi-channel marketing, Internet marketing, customer relationship management, energy audit software training and bomb-blast testing, among others.

According to EPD, the courses were geared toward anyone marketing to commercial and federal customers and are taught by people with experience in the installation of the company’s window film.

The April session featured a hands-on demonstration and certification course for 3M’s wet glaze attachment led by chief engineer Ken Smith from Saint Paul, Minn. Nineteen students were certified as 3M applicators of the wet glaze attachment system.
The next session is scheduled for July 15.

“It may be to not try to do too much in too short a time. I see many terrific opportunities for the company and I need to help ensure that we make changes that we can manage without overstretching ourselves. We’re certainly not short of opportunities,” he said.

Facing such challenges, how will Fletcher measure success?

“I will feel I’ve been successful if, in a few years time, the company has demonstrated significant profitable growth … that our customers and employees are happy; and that we’ve demonstrated a record that we can be proud of,” he said.

That’s not to say that Fletcher isn’t aware of the state of the industry at the moment. When asked his opinion on the challenges his customers face and some currently existing criticisms of the industry, Fletcher was frank.

“In the domestic window film market, growth has slowed in the last few years and that has proven a challenge to many of our customers,” he said. “The environment has also become more competitive as there have been some new entrants in the last few years, both domestically and internationally, which has resulted in some pricing pressures for all of the established manufacturers in the business. I think a change is probably occurring. 

“I would have to agree that a major hindrance to the growth of the market size is that there is still poor customer awareness of window film products. However, increasing that awareness has proven to be very difficult, not only for the trade associations, but also for the individual companies involved in the business. I do believe the major manufacturers have been very supportive of both the AIMCAL and IWFA. I think [critics would be] surprised in the level of funding and support the major manufacturers provide to the major associations.”

His thoughts on the criticism that the industry isn’t doing enough to capitalize on safety film?

“The problem is not that the manufacturers have not done enough to promote their products and to seek applications for safety film. I think the problem has been at the demand level. The much-anticipated increase in demand for safety and security films has just not materialized over the last few years. Now, I know that unfortunate events occur, like 9/11 in the extreme and also when hurricanes have hit, temporarily there has been an increase in demand for safety and security films, but my experience has been that, very quickly, that demand has fallen away, to the disappointment of all the major manufacturers, and despite all their best efforts.

“I think another aspect of this is that a major application for safety and security film is in its use on the windows of government owned and operated buildings. It has proven very difficult to work through the bureaucratic channels to get safety and security films installed. It can be a very lengthy process.

“It’s not for the want of trying by the manufacturers, who have tried very hard to promote their safety and security films.”

Meanwhile, Fletcher is not the only new face at FTI. Kimber Tracy has also joined the company as vice president of sales, marketing and business development. She brings to the company 25 years of experience in the industry, having owned and operated application businesses and multiple distribution operations in the United States and Europe. Most recently, she served as FTI’s managing director of European operations.

A founding member of the European Window Film Association, Tracy currently serves as vice chairperson of that organization, and acts on behalf of FTI for matters relating to the United Kingdom’s glass and glazing federation. Additionally, she represents Sweden as a member of the working group drafting the European Union’s standards on film-to-glass in buildings.

Commonwealth Laminating and Coating Unveils $6 Million Dollar Expansion
Commonwealth Laminating and Coating has announced a $6 million plant expansion, which includes the addition of a 74-inch tandem coater/laminator to its facility.

Designed and manufactured by Black Clawson Converting Machinery, the coater/laminator features two in-line coating operations and incorporates automatic splicers on both unwinds and rewind and enabling continuous operation at speeds up to 250 feet of film per minute.

The system also employs Black Clawson Integrator II™ supervisory control system for data management and control, an advanced UV curing system from Fusion UV Systems Inc., an AC vector drive by Eurotherm Drivs and two Megtec drying systems with a thermal oxidizer.

“Our goal is to become one of the leading window film producers in the world. This expansion gives us the technical capability and capacity to accomplish that,” said Steve Phillips, Commonwealth’s president and chief executive officer.

CHB Industries Expands
Smithtown, N.Y.’s CHB Industries, a provider of window film systems, has opened offices in Chicago, Houston and Tampa, Fla. The company also has offices in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. The company offers blast-resistant film systems, anti-intrusion film, anti-graffiti film, solar heat-control film and etched-glass film.

In expanding the operations, three regional managers were hired to oversee the operation of the offices and open new markets in metropolitan areas of the Midwest, Southwest and Southeast United States. Scott Kobus is overseeing the Chicago/Midwest office. He has 16 years of management experience in the area and most recently was the owner and general manager of Central Die Casting in Chicago. John Yard is directing the Houston branch and covering the Southwestern metropolitan areas. Yard joins CHB after working for Enpro Distributing Inc., a window film distributor and V-Kool Inc. manufacturer of solar protection window film. Managing the Tampa office is Donna Wells, who moved to Florida after co-owning Scotts Custom Glass in San Diego for 20 years.

Bekaert Appoints Goad Director of National Sales
Bekaert Specialty Films (BSF), headquartered in San Diego, has announced the appointment of Brian Goad as its new director of national sales and distribution. In this position, Goad is responsible for all aspects of BSF’s window film product sales within the United States, including sales within the ten BSF-owned and operated service centers and all other distribution channels carrying the product to market.

Prior to the appointment, Goad served as the director of sales for BSF’s industrial and display 
division, and previously worked for GE Plastics’ structured products division.

In the May/June issue of Window Film, the contact information for CPFilms was published incorrectly in the Noteworthy section. The correct phone number is 276/627-3000. We apologize for any inconvenience.


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