Volume 15, Issue 6 - November/December 2011


Breaking Records Tint-Off and Conference Sets New Standard
by Katie Hodge

This past September the window film industry experienced new highs. With standing room only in seminars, a packed show floor and nail-biting competition in the Tint-Off, the event broke records. Among those records were the most competitors to ever compete in the Tint-Off, unrivaled attendance at an International Window Film Conference™ and a show floor so crowded that the phrase “excuse me” was used more often than any other. The event was co-sponsored by Window Film magazine and the International Window Film Association (IWFA) and featured six manufacturer supporters, 3M, HanitaTek Window Films, Johnson Window Films, Llumar, Madico and Solar Gard Specialty Films. Midwest Marketing, Solar Control Films and Zola Distributing also exhibited.

Top Tinter
A new tinting gold medalist was crowned late Thursday night when Chris Brooks of Kauff’s Tint & Graphics in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., brought in a score of 84. Following behind Brooks was Brian Felts of Jenkins Auto Group in Ocala, Fla., with a score of 78 and Troy Peters of Cypress Window Tinting in Katy, Texas, with a score of 75.

“We were so pleased to have the event grow to the size and stature that it did,” said event director Holly Biller. “When you plan an event you want the core values to translate, and with this year’s International Window Film Tint-Off and Conference, we heard so much positive feedback. It was gratifying to hear that the event provided education attendees were looking for and that people came away with a better understanding, greater appreciation and reinvigorated sense of enthusiasm for their industry.”

This year’s competition marked Brooks’ third time competing in the event—he won the silver medal at the 2008 Tint-Off.

“It feels great this year. It was a long time coming. I’ve competed in three of the Tint-Off’s now and it paid off to keep coming back, learning more and making everything a little more precise each time you come back,” said champion Brooks. “I actually felt really good in my final tint job. I had no water and no moisture. Everybody had a few specks in their window so it was what it was. I felt great and wasn’t going to re-do it.”

To learn more about what has made Chris Brooks a champion see page 44.

Speaking Of
The International Window Film Conference featured a vast array of seminars and speakers. The highlight of the seminars for many was the keynote presentation from Mike Eruzione, the captain of the 1980 U.S. Gold Medal Olympic hockey team. Eruzione stressed the importance of working together and respecting the competition.

“You have to check your ego at the door. How good would our best player be without the team?” said Eruzione. “If you don’t respect your competition and the people you work with you will not be successful.”

Other favorite sessions included a social media presentation from Sara Santiago of Roll. Santiago explained the different social media platforms and how small businesses could use the networking abilities to reach out to more customers.

“People are now more likely to send you a message on twitter than to send an email or call a customer service line. They will expect you to respond within about 24 hours,” said Santiago.

Lyle Hill of Keytech North America shared his glass expertise with members of the window film industry in his session, “New Window Technologies.”

“Form a really good alliance with a glass company and it will only enhance your business,” said Hill. “Energy codes are changing. Energy legislation is changing. There are a lot of things coming your way. The future for film is right now.”

For an extra fee attendees were able to take part in IWFA Accreditation testing, which was taking place on multiple days.

Energy Experience
Kirk Heston, founder of Heston Wind and Renewable Energy LLC, talked about his experience working for energy service companies (ESCO’s) and why window film companies should be partnering with these organizations.

“Why work with ESCO’s? Because they have hundreds of people. Can you imagine that branding? You can’t believe how much traction you get. Every customer that I ever brought in on an ESCO project had something done on a personal level later,” said Heston.

While the Tint-Off was taking place and at the end of the seminar schedule each day the International Window Film Exhibition/ Extravaganza would open for attendees to speak with manufacturers and network with colleagues. The event floor was bustling with activity and attendees could watch the Tint-Off for a few minutes and just spin around to talk to window film manufacturers, associations and colleagues right behind them. The Tint-Off opening and award ceremonies also took place right in the midst of all the action on the floor as well.

“The show went really well. I was kind of surprised by the attendance. Originally we were expecting a smaller crowd and we were overwhelmed by the crowd,” said Fred Zwilling of Johnson Window Films in Carson, Calif.

“The Tint-Off was very well attended. We were very happy with the turnout for all of the sessions over the last couple of days,” said John Parker, president of the IWFA.

“We planned to get as many dealers here as possible and it really worked. There have been a lot more people here, honestly, than I expected there to be. The seminars have been well-attended and we have had a lot of activity in the booth so it’s been good,” said Jim Black of HanitaTek in Dallas, Texas.

Some manufacturers brought products to display with them. At the 3M booth, attendees could try out its new heat lamp display featuring four different types of 3M window film.

Other exhibitors had exciting news to share with attendees. Solar Gard talked about the recent acquisition by Saint-Gobain and shared their excitement about the Solar Gard Academy for training tinters. Madico Window Films also talked about its merger with Sun-Gard Window Films that took place a year ago and how the two brands have been working together.

However, products aside, the show itself was the new and exciting product on display. Attendees weighed in on what they had seen so far.

“The show has been pretty good for us this week. We’ve seen a lot of things that we didn’t know about and a lot of new people and faces,” said attendee Chris DeLuca of All Pro Window Tinting in Canton, Ga.

“It’s interesting meeting different people because we work all the time in our own shop and we don’t know how other people do what we do everyday. It’s neat seeing all the different installers and different techniques,” said Chris Robinson of The Tint Guy in Atlanta, Ga.

With the show deemed a success among attendees and exhibitors the one question on everyone’s lips was, “When will we see you next?”

“We planned to get as many dealers
here as possible and it really worked. There have been a lot more people here, honestly, than I expected there to be. The seminars have been well-attended and we have had a lot of activity in the booth so it’s been good.”
—Jim Black, HanitaTek

Katie Hodge is the editor of Window Film magazine. She can be reached at khodge@glass.com or follow her on twitter @windowfilmmag.

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