Volume 10, Issue 2                     March/April  2006


15 Minutes
AUTO GLASS

Les Means More

Competing in his second International Window Film Tint-Off™, John Denver-look-alike Les Helton walked away with the title of “World’s Best Tinter” in the automotive sector. The 30-year-old owner and operator of Performance Window Tinting Inc. in Carrollton, Ga., sat down with Window Film magazine to talk about who he is and how he views the industry.

Q: How long have you been applying window film?
Fourteen years, though I’ve been doing it for a living for 10 years.

Q: How long have you owned your company?
Seven years.

Q: How’d you get started in the business?
I’m a car lover and I started hanging out at a car stereo shop in the afternoon after school. I started applying film for them for free at first. I just love it. It’s an art form.

Q: How many vehicles do you think you’ve tinted since you started?
10-15,000.

Q: What do you think the biggest obstacle is for tint shops today?
Price cutters. Other guys installing cheap films for a cheap price.

Q: What are your future plans for your business?
I’d love to expand, but I like to have my hands in everything because it’s got my name on it and I can’t be everywhere at once.

Q: What is your favorite car to tint?
Regular cab, Chevrolet truck with no slider. It’s easy! 

Q: What is your least favorite car to tint?
The one we just did – the VW Beetle.

Q: What vehicle do you find to be the most difficult to tint?
The VW Beetle. The whole thing’s hard.

Q: If you could tint one car (that you have thus far not tinted), what would it be?
Rolls Royce Phantom.

Q: Did you encounter any obstacles in the tint-off, and if so, what were they?
Time. In the finals, we needed longer to prep the back glass. It’s easier to get all the glue off a window when you do it yourself. Everything else was good. 

Q: Will you compete again next year?
Yes, probably.

Q: What are your hobbies?
Motocross, wakeboard and snowboarding.

                                                            Quick Facts                                                                    

Family? Single with a girlfriend and a seven-year-old 
yellow lab named Chloe.
Favorite food? Mexican.
Favorite movie? Old School.
Favorite pastime? Spending time at the lake.
Favorite magazine? Wakeboarding magazine.
Favorite car? Porsche 9-11. One of my goals is to get one. I don’t care what year.
Favorite sport? Extreme sports.
Favorite sports team? Falcons.
One word description of yourself? Honest.



ARCHITECTURAL GLASS

Winning Is in His Genes

Eugene “Gene” Whitmer, head installer at Sun Shades & Graphics in Columbia, S.C., was named the 2006 “World’s Best Tinter” for architectural glass. An IWFA certified installer, Gene sat down with Window Film magazine for an interview after his win.
“My dad bought a business in 1997. 
In 1981, he gave the business to me. 
In 1985, I closed the business and went 
to work for a new company.”

Q: How long have you been applying window film?
29 years.

Q: How long have you been with Sun Shades and Graphics?
Seven years.

Q: How’d you get started in the business?
My dad bought a business in 1997. In 1981, he gave the business to me. In 1985, I closed the business and went to work for a new company.

Q: How many projects do you think you’ve tinted since you started—either in number of projects or in square feet laid?
1 million square feet.

Q: What do you think is the biggest obstacle for tint shops today?
Public awareness.

Q: What are your future plans for your role in the window film industry?
I’ll stay where I am, but I would love to work for a manufacturer, namely CPFilms.

Q: What is your favorite frame to film?
It really doesn’t matter to me. It’s all about the cleanliness of the window.

Q: What is your least favorite frame to film?
Probably wood—old wood frames with paint chips or the kind with putty caulk.

Q: What style of windows do you find the most difficult to film?
None.

Q: If you could tint one building, or style of building, that you have thus far not tinted, what would it be?
An octagon shaped building.

Q: How competitive did you find the Tint-Off?
It was competitive, but I learned something while I was here.

                                                            Quick Facts                                                                    

Family? Single.
Favorite food? Mexican.
Favorite movie? Top Gun.
Favorite pastime? Spending time with my dog.
Favorite magazine? Window Film magazine.
Favorite car? Corvette.
Favorite sport? NASCAR – and NHRA.
Favorite sports team? Pittsburgh Steelers and the Carolina Gamecocks.
One word description of yourself? Straightforward.

©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