Volume 10, Issue 1                     January/February  2006


Seemingly Everything Made for Autos

SEMA 2005

Impresses Once Again

by Brigid O'Leary

There’s a good chance that if your feet didn’t hurt after walking the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show 2005, you probably didn’t attend. Well, OK, you could have attended the show and come away without sore feet, but the odds of that are about as good as backgammon becoming an Olympic event (slim but not impossible). The show, held November 1-4, 2005, had more than 100,000 attendees visiting more than 10,000 booths with goods and/or services to offer.

Ten thousand booths. Four days.

If you wanted to see and experience absolutely everything, you would have to spend less than 20 seconds at each booth, without taking any breaks to eat or use the restroom. Even if such a feat were feasible (and humane), it wouldn’t be possible to report it all between the covers of this magazine, nor would everything be relevant to you, our readers. Instead, we’re going to look at just those booths that shape your industry.

We’re Walking, We’re Walking …

Lucky for those interested in the window film industry, all the big players in window film were grouped pretty close together again this year, so you could probably have spared yourself some extra miles of walking if you only went to see window film companies.

Bekaert Brings ‘Em In

Nothing draws a crowd like a fight, and Bekaert Specialty Films did just that with its tinting competition. Every hour, a new group of tinters took a turn at a daylight application on a car window (the car itself was not attached) and those who had the fewest mistakes moved on in the competition, tinting a backlite for the finals to win prizes. While the competition—which included a running commentary by Nik Sanders—drew the crowd, it was the demonstrations of the automated ComputerCut system courtesy of its inventor Gary Benoit that kept many people around and asking questions. 

The ComputerCut system is on version five and is being updated regularly. Regular visitors to SEMA can expect to find the newest installment of the program each year. As Benoit explained, there is a monthly fee associated with the plotting system, part of which allows users of the system one hour of access to a graphic artist for design help.

The program, sold to Bekaert in 2003, allows users access to an Internet-based database with hundreds of patterns that can be used in the plotter and are updated as new vehicles and window patterns are available. Users wishing to have more control over images and privacy can create a private database for an additional fee. 

Bekaert also had samples of its high-performance Charcoal film, which is a sputter-metallized film with a VLT of 55-56 percent, on hand but visitors will be able to inquire about the complete line-up of Solar Gard automotive films including the color-stable Quantum and True Grey film series and pick up new marketing literature, including the latest copy of the company’s “Dealer Advantage” package, which includes an introduction to the company and the films it offers.

Film Handler Tools, a division of Bekaert, exhibited at the show as well, with a new line of squeegees on display and a new catalog of tools available. 

Classically Commonwealth

Commonwealth Laminating and Coating returned with its simple but striking booth, dominated by a towering black wall with a photo of a high-end sports car (that happens to belong to company president Steve Phillips), complete with tinted windows.

Approaching the booth from one direction, visitors were greeted with information about the company and a Lexus tinted with SunTek film, a real-life example of what the film looks like on the vehicle windows. From the opposite direction, the company’s display of the TintTek 20/20 system and staff on hand to explain how it works caught the attention of many passers-by.

Smilin’ CPFilms

Staff at the CPFilms booth donned red shirts this year, a change from last year’s purple shirts, which had been selected to emphasize the company’s “no purple” pledge, a reference to the company’s warranty against color change in its film. Though the red shirts at this year’s show didn’t offer any particular symbolism, they cut impressive figures as they focused this year more on the turnkey services they provide, including training and support.

CPFilms was just one of several companies offering live installation demonstrations in their booth; however, they were offering demos for installing paint protection film, one of the newer film products that the company believes is poised to take off in the near future.

“Paint protection is the way to go. There are lots of cars out there that need protection from the elements,” said Jack Mundy.

The company offered live demonstrations for applying paint protection film throughout the day, drawing sizeable crowds at each demonstration.

Orange You Glad to See Them?

St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Film Technologies International (FTI) returned to SEMA in 2005 to highlight its Shadow line of automotive film, which it introduced at the 2004 show.

Though the company was not debuting any new products this time, booth personnel were never in want of visitors attracted to the bright orange and blue motif that has come to signify FTI.

With SEMA falling so close to the end of the year, FTI took the opportunity to use the show as a teaser to their visitors, indicating that there will be some new product announcements in 2006—items that are in the final stages of completion and tweaking, but were better held back from the big show. If nothing else, the announcement of forthcoming announcements will serve to bring people back to the FTI booth again in 2006.

Living Up to the Name

Just around the corner from the Window Film magazine booth, Global Window Films was courting the international market at SEMA 2005, sharing information about the company’s silver flat glass film as well as its full line of automotive film, all of which have 110 feet of material (an additional ten feet of film per roll) for the company’s value driven campaign.

The show also allowed the company to introduce Howard Paritsky as its newest distributor.

Johnson’s Flashy Film

“It’s even better when they do the demo for you,” said Jason Woolcott, a member of the Johnson Window Films product service team, when visitors to the booth asked to try their hand at heat shrinking film on the backlite of a new VW Beetle. 

The Beetle was the only thing that returned to the Johnson Window Film booth from the previous year’s SEMA show, but despite having no games and no presidential portraits made of window film, the company was hardly lacking in visitors.

Keeping it low key, Johnson Window Film had its Flash film on display. The film is half metal and half dyed to match the blue Mercedes glass and target the import market. The big change for the film is its warranty, which now warranties against fading. The company also had its Nightscape low reflective residential flat-glass film on hand. 

Home Run with HanitaTek

HanitaTek, the American supplier for the Israeli company Hanita Coatings, didn’t go all out to push the automotive window film, though they have plenty of it. Instead, they drew attention their way—by breaking something. 

The company brought with them windows protected by Hanita Coatings’ protective “no bar” film attachment system and at appointed hours throughout the day, staff members would invite visitors to take a swing at the glass with a baseball bat. If a visitor were less inclined to try to break the glass, HanitaTek staffers would do the honors, though it still took one whole day of swinging to break each window. The goal was to attract the attention of not only attendees within the window film industry but that of visitors who offer the other high-end goods sold at SEMA. Why? Because they’re prone to getting robbed. 

“These guys who sell stereo systems and the high-end rims, they bring in big money and are prime targets for smash and grab,” said HanitaTek president Lloyd Brown. By showing what window film can do to protect their assets, HanitaTek attracted additional clientele.

All HanitaTek films come with a metered liner that allow technicians to know just how much has been used and how much is left on the roll. The company carries film for both automotive and architectural glass.

The X-Factor

Hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia, Lamin-X Protective Films joined the ranks of protective film vendors courting new customers at SEMA 2005. The company was a first-time exhibitor at the show and offers pre-cut protective film kits that include instructions and tools and can provide protection for head-, fog- and taillights as well as body paint. The company offers patterns for more than 1,000 vehicles and bikes and carries ten variations of clear and colored film, all of which can be custom-length ordered and have a five-year product guarantee.

Bringing Back the Bling

Madico, along with partner companies Folia Tec and Proline Styling, returned to SEMA with a booth similar to that which it brought to the 2004 show and continued to turn heads with new equipment and vehicles complete with aftermarket car accessories furnished by associated companies such as BOSE.

Two new products at the booth this year were Madico’s Metal Edge™ and Fusion™ window films. Metal Edge is a metallized film that, according to the company, has the highest heat rejection of films on the market. Fusion is a tinted security film that gives the look and feel of “armored glass,” according to the company. 

Folia Tec also introduced window film products: 14 window film products, to be exact. The company is a German aftermarket product manufacturer and used SEMA 2005 to introduce 14 European-styled tints for the professional market along with new accessories such as “easy-to-install” carbon fiber hoods and headlight lens films that make headlights look like Xenon lamps.

In addition to the eye candy and mind boggling accessories offered by the companies, including pre-cut Do-It-Yourself (DIY) film, Madico also now offers its distributors assistance in building a company website, including providing an open template to aid in website design.

Making Its Marko Tak

There was no masking Marko Tak’s bid for widening its clientele pool. The Singaporean company introduced its SunMask™ pigment-free alloy metal film to the market at the show. The film is available in neutral color and can be used for both vehicle and architectural applications.

Hardly a “one trick pony,” Marko Tak also distributed information about its Solux solar control DIY film that is available in colors from gold and silver to brown, green, blue, and shades of black that range from medium black to Limo black.

The company also carries colored film (Fantasy Color Film) that is described as UV- and scratch-resistant and comes in colors such as spring green (70%), salmon (60%), amber tint (60%), pink lady (60%), pure orange (40%), sky (35%), fern (35%), peacock (35%), lavender (25%) and Mary Rose (15%).

Hands-On Learning

In a move that set them apart from most other window film companies at the SEMA show, Miami-based Protect Gard brought racks of its window films, particularly promoting its heat rejection and premium plus all metal films.

Raj Sood explained that the company brings the racks of film—and detached vehicle glass—to allow visitors to handle the products and get a feel for what the company offers.

“We let people see the film against the glass, peel the liner. We let them play,” Sood said. “It gives value to the people visiting the show and helps make their experience here.”

MMM-MMM Good

Offering more than just window film for the aftermarket automotive business, 3M also had live demonstrations of window film applications at their booth—demos that occasionally were taken over by visitors wishing to give tinting a try.

Those who applied to the company for the opportunity to handle some of the film were able to see and feel the company’s black chrome, fully metallized film, which the company is positioning “just below color stable” films.

The film comes in four levels of tint, 10-, 20-, 35 and 40, all immediately available. Additionally, the company offers paint protection film with improved hardcoat and durability. The Scotchgard™ Paint Protection film is what the company calls a “combination of ‘easy-to-apply’ and ‘long-lasting, high-gloss’ film” that ranges from a 6-inch 6 mil film to a 48-inch 6 mil (in rolls of 40 yards). 

Winning Technology

“Cool. Clear. Safe,” is the motto for Wintech Window Films, a film manufacturer headquartered in Chungbuk, Korea. A first-time exhibitor at SEMA, the Wintech team had an unassuming booth tucked away on a side aisle from which they shared information on the company’s film products, which range from a 5-percent black smoke to a 17-percent R-Bronze.

Wintech produces standard, professional, heat-shielding and safety films, all of which, the company says, reduce ultraviolet light by 99 percent. 

Stop, Look, Listen

Now, that’s what you would have seen if you just went to window film booths and didn’t get sucked into all that is SEMA. However, the window film booths were pretty closely grouped over in the Restyling section of the show, and with nine other sections to visit, you would have had to walk past a lot of eye-catching thingamabobs, whatchahoozits and whirligigs just to get to what you were there to see. The other attractions at SEMA 2005 included celebrities such as Carmen Electra, Hulk Hogan and the guys from West Coast Customs (famous for doing the work featured on MTV’s car restoration/rebuilding show, Pimp My Ride). Also at SEMA 2005 was the General Lee from Dukes of Hazard fame, as well as the world’s most expensive hubcap, encrusted with diamonds and under heavy protection. 
On the more practical side of things, there were other products on show that might peak the interest of shop owners seeking to diversify business (for more information on these products, see Noteworthy).

Of course, on top of all this, the show’s in Vegas, so after a full day of walking the show and checking out the neons, listening to the stereo systems and doing the meet-and-greet with vendors, there were shows to see and restaurants to visit. 

Nine months. You’ve got nine months to rest your feet for this year’s show and to steel your resolve if you haven’t yet attended the show.

Brigid O’Leary is the editor of Window Film magazine.

©2006 Key Communications Inc. 385 Garrisonville Road, Suite 116, Stafford, VA  22554
Phone: 540/720-5584, Fax: 540/720-5687 e-mail: film@glass.com