Volume 8, Issue 2, March-April  2004

 

Warm Fronts
Industry Spends Three Days in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

March is supposed to be the beginning of spring. But not this year. This year, warm weather roamed through the East Coast in February; and a cold front moved in as the new month set in. So as people up and down the East Coast and across the country bundled up in their blankets and with their space heaters, the window film industry went on its own spring break trip to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the International Window Film Conference and Expo™ (IWFE) March 4-6, along with the International Tint-Off™.

Nearly 400 film applicators traveled to the sunny coast for the event and spent three days in seminars and educational events, along with a trade show, learning how to up their games back at their shops. The IWFE and Tint-Off are co-sponsored by the International Window Film Association (IWFA) and Window Film magazine.

Read on for a wrap-up of what you may have missed if you weren’t among those in Fort Lauderdale.

Questions, Questions
The seminar that left people talking throughout the weekend was the second one on the program schedule—“Growth in Your Window Film Business.” Hosted by a panel of window film industry experts: Ed Golda of Michigan Glass Coatings in Auburn Hills, Mich.; Dave McFayden of American Window Tinting Services Inc. in Littleton, Colo.; and Joe Calvey of Alarms in San Antonio, the three fielded an array of questions from the audience such as how to deal with glass breakage, how to optimize your use of a roll of window film, how to grow your business, advertising methods, how to make it in the off-season and how many sales people to employ.

The questions ran so long that eventually, they had to stop accepting more to allow time to move into the next seminar, “The Internet and Other Business Advertising Tools,” by Scott Frazier of Sitestar Inc. in Martinsville, Va. Frazier provided attendees with tips on how to develop their websites effectively and how to use them as tools to gain extra business.

He explained how search engines work, how to choose a good HTML program and how to write your website so that it’s likely to pop up when someone is searching for a film shop in your area.

Bill Carson of Mancon LLP in Lake Mary, Fla., followed up with “What is Your Management Style?”

Carson discussed the four basic types of people—driven, expressive, amiable and analytical—and caused everyone in the audience to search within and figure out what type they were. Then, he launched into a quiz about what kind of manager you are and how to improve upon your areas of weakness.

On Friday morning, Greg Carney of the Glass Association of North America kicked things off with a discussion on “Trends in Architectural Glass.” He talked about some of the newest coatings and innovations in the architectural glass world and how they might affect film applicators. Among these are low-E coatings, hydrophobic coatings and “low-maintenance” glass.

A man of many hats ( as he serves as the new IWFA president, current president of the Protective Glazing Council and president of GlassLock in San Jose, Calif.) Scott Haddock followed with “New Business Security Survey.”

“We’re talking about risk mitigation,” he told the crowd, explaining that film may not totally prevent glass breakage, but it will lessen the risk of flying glass shards.

Haddock then fielded some questions about attachment systems from his captive audience. He explained the difference between a two-sided and four-sided attachment system, where they’re used in the world and how to choose the right attachment system for a project.

Martinsville, Va.-based CPFilms Inc.’s Randy Garcia followed up appropriately with a demonstration of how to install an attachment system.

On Saturday morning, Jason Wright of Pilkington kicked things off with a discussion about trends in auto glass and how film applicators can adjust to changes, such as new curvatures in the glass and more glass all-around.
Michael Levy, Esq., a Window Film columnist and attorney in Stafford, Va., held “How to Write an Effective Proposal/Contract,” drawing the interest of many. Levy talked about how to write contracts that address any problems that might arise, on the part of either party, work authorization, specific start and completion dates for the work, attorney’s fees in the event of a problem, etc. However, he stressed, it is important and worth it in the long run to seek legal advice when writing such documents.

“That’s where people get into trouble—they try to write something that sounds like a lawyer wrote it and end up saying the entirely wrong thing,” Levy said. “Just say it in your own words, in regular, everyday language.”
To provide some hands-on practice using his tips, Levy then took several real contracts that shops use and dissected them with the audience’s participation.

Finally, the last seminar of the weekend was a panel of experts—Rich Meyeres and Bill O’Mara of Mother’s Window Tint in San Antonio and David Oxford of Mother’s Window in Austin, Texas—who began answering questions on installation tips and ended up answering two hours of questions on a range of topics, such as how to choose a good location for a shop.

On Display
Trade Show Has Some New Offerings

hile this year’s trade show format was a little different than in past years—it was held at night, and show sponsors were given pavilions, in addition to their booths—the trade show still produced its usual amount of exciting new products for the film industry.

Johnson Window Films, headquartered in Carson, Calif., traveled to the East Coast to put together a filled pavilion of snacks, drinks and some new films and display cases. The new display cases show the film as it would look used—something Fred Zwilling of Johnson said attendees have been requesting to see for a while.
In addition, Johnson has introduced three new films, Mirror Blue 50, a White-Out film made with a hard-coat, and SS 55, a light silver film that meets the reflectivity requirements for auto film.

CPFilms Inc. of Martinsville, Va., also had a pavilion in which they displayed a urethane paint protection demonstration and three new Llumar films, architectural blue 25, dual-reflective 25 and dual-reflective 35, a green automotive film that matches the tint of the new Volkswagen Toray. The new architectural blue film was made especially for a project in Brazil, where the company wished to match the film to the blue glass in a building.

Global Window Films also had a pavilion in which the company offered its new G-lux low-reflective automotive film. In addition, the company is expanding its flat glass line of films and just completed a project at the Singapore Airport, which required a safety film.

Bekaert Specialty Films of Clearwater, Fla., offered its newest generation of its ComputerCut system, which cuts custom patterns for automotive film applications.

Performance Tools Distributing of Dublin, Ohio, also had a range of new products to introduce, including its Slimfoot hard card designed to reach the small areas of sidelites and backlites that applicators have found difficult to reach with the popular Bigfoot. 

Also at the show was San Diego-based Wintriss Engineering Corp., with its Web Ranger™ surface inspection system that combines the company’s Linescan “smart camera” technology with its distributed architecture based process monitoring system to detect flaws in plastic film as it comes off the extrusion machine.
Other companies making their presence known on the show floor include Madico, Intermax Trading, BB&T/Zurich America, Gila, 3M and Film Technologies.


Find It In the Yellow Pages
Barry Maher, the nation’s yellow-page expert, shared his expertise with attendees during the keynote address at a midday luncheon. He began by explaining that shops should keep track of just how much business their yellow-page ads—and other sources of marketing—are getting them in the first place and focus on those areas. Statistically speaking, he said 39 percent of those shopping for window film go first to the yellow pages to find a business, and 26 percent of most businesses’ customers come from yellow-page listings.

Maher also explained how to choose a directory to advertise in; he explained that the answer is usually a simple one—go to the core directory, even though its ads may be the most expensive.

“People are not going to use a directory just because ads are cheaper,” he said. “The official book gets the most readers.”

Opening up some telephone books for the audience, Maher then explained the difference in the types of ads—display, in-column and short listings—and how to choose which to use. And, he explained, sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words.

"The guy with the ad may work out of his garage, but the guy with the small ad looks like he works out of his garage,” Maher chuckled.

He also explained how ads are ordered in a yellow page directory (from size, largest to smallest, and within a size section, by seniority). Maher encouraged attendees to look at their own phone books when choosing an ad size and going just above what their competitors are running. Likewise, he said that advertisers should worry more about where their ads are placed in relation to the category headings than where they are placed on a page.

Maher also urged his audience, though, not to be cheap when it comes to yellow-page advertising dollars.

“When it comes to advertising, more businesses save their way into bankruptcy than spend their way into bankruptcy,” he said.

When designing an ad, Maher said shops should be sure they’re listing their companies features and benefits—not just description about the company, but why it can help you.

“The ad should answer the question, ‘why should I do business with you instead of your competition?’” he said.

Finally, he re-emphasized the most important factor of all.

“Track your ads—please, track your ads,” Maher said. “If you ask someone where he heard about you and he says ‘Bill,’ then still ask where he found you in the Yellow Pages after Bill told him about you.”

Looking Ahead
The fifth annual IWFE proved to be a success to most who attended—particularly for those who participated in all the educational opportunities it had to offer, despite the tempting draw of the warm beach.

Leif Peterson, who traveled from his shop, Promark, in Knoxville, Tenn., to attend the event, said being able to talk to industry experts first-hand is beneficial to him. 

“The educational [program] is incredibly informative,” Peterson said.

Stewart McCallum of Sun-shades Auto Glass Tinting in Alpharetta, Ga., also felt he benefited from the seminars.
“It was excellent,” said McCallum. “I thought the keynote speaker was really good. I’d like to, maybe, have some hands on demonstration or actual film being applied at future shows. They did have that security film guy showing how he put security stuff together, and that was neat.”

Dates for the next conference should be announced in May.

IWFA Update
Smith Provides Update on Association’s Busy Year

The International Window Film Association (IWFA), co-sponsors of the International Window Film Conference and Expo™ (IWFE), is busy throughout the year—and for the fifth year in a row IWFA executive director Darrell Smith took the opportunity to update its members—and some who have yet to join—on all the association has done throughout the past year.

One of its biggest feats for the year was developing a new accreditation test, advanced solar control, which was given for the first time during this year’s IWFE. Likewise, a new advanced safety/security film accreditation test is in the works.

The association’s goal is to accredit 1,000 applicators by the end of 2005—currently, the association is at 557.

Likewise, Smith talked about the website, www.iwfa.com, and the changes it is soon to undergo, with the help of Sitestar Inc. in Martinsville, Va. (see page 10 for related story). The IWFA plans to make the website “the industry source for information,” so that it will help both consumers and those in the industry looking for information on window film. Currently, Smith said, the website is getting 200,000 unique hits a month.
The association’s budget for the year is $300,000, down $13,000 from last year.

A lending library is one of the IWFA’s newest offerings; a library from which its members can choose books, have them mailed to them, read them and then mail them back—at no charge except postage to mail them back. The library contains white papers on blast hazard mitigation, building code maps, business resources and issues of Window Film magazine.

To ease the reading of the newsletter and to save on printing and postage fees, the IWFA has begun publishing its quarterly newsletter online.

Also new to the online world is accreditation testing, which members can now take via the Internet, with the assistance of a company called Proventrix with whom the IWFA has reached an agreement.

The IWFA also is continuing its work with Safe America, a non-profit organization in Atlanta that promotes various items of safety to consumers. The organization currently has plans in the work for a brochure about safety to distribute in Home Depot stores. The brochure will contain a paragraph about window film and its benefits to consumers.

Smith added that the IWFA’s main focus now is on education, as opposed to standards, which is more the focus of the Association of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL) window film committee.
“IWFA has become the education and communication arm of the window film industry,” Smith said

WINDOW FILM

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