Volume 13, Issue 3 - May/June 2009

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The Decorative Film Opportunity

In the last edition, we discussed the potential role of decorative films in a down economy, and there’s no better time to continue this discussion than the present. Experts agree that this niche market represents a large opportunity for window film dealers, at a time when they need it most. So, given that the market is big, just how profitable is it? Peter Huyser, a member of Decorative Films LLC, suggests that architectural panels range from $35.00 to $65.00 per square foot while a comparable film on glass ranges from $12.00 to $35.00 per square foot. That is a significant savings to the end-user and a profitable installation for the dealer.

Decorative films are available in numerous flavors, having evolved from the plain and simple frosted to the multi-colored stained look. The applications too have evolved, from covering an entire glass pane to plotting an intricate design. Huyser says the possibilities are virtually endless. “Amazing effects can be created by layering different films and installing films on both sides of interior glass,” he says. “Dealers can be very creative in what they offer their clients.”

A Pain in the Glass (APG) of Lake Hopatcong, N.J., exercises that creativity. Stephen Walloga, president, discusses how his most difficult application required ten hours of design and layout and seven hours of actual plotting. The result was film on 26 panels with 7,000 negative removals. Walloga suggests that there are three stages necessary to complete an intricate design application. “The first is making sure the design itself works with the glass surface in question,” he explains. “The second is the layout of the design on film, cutting and labeling for the entire application. The third and final step is having the ability to actually install some of the more intricate applications.”

Companies like APG and Decorative Films can take a customer’s design and translate it to film. But for a dealer who wants to do the design and cut work himself, the appropriate software and hardware is necessary.

Hardware requirements include a plotter and a modern Windows-based or Macintosh computer. Companies such as Graphtec and Roland offer plotters that cut decorative, window, paint protection, and vinyl graphic films. The software required depends on what designs you plan to cut. It is a good idea to see if the plotter you are about to purchase comes with any useful software. If not, solutions such as Corel Draw X4 and Adobe Illustrator provide good functionality and are reasonably priced.

The possibilities are endless and the profit margins are healthy. With our core businesses affected by the economy, decorative films provide a new avenue for revenue growth and the start-up costs are minimal. Hopefully now this subset of our industry will get its due.

Manny Hondroulis is marketing manager for Energy Products Distribution in Baltimore. Mr. Hondroulis’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine. If you have questions, e-mail Manny at mhondroulis@epdwindowfilm.com.

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