Volume 14, Issue 2 - March/April 2010

Newsworthy

Scammers Take on the Film Industry

It’s a sad, but true fact, scammers will take on just about anyone, anywhere in any industry. Over the past few years many glass shops have learned to spot signs of these callers as companies all over the country have fallen victim to different phone scams. In fact, just last summer two glass shops in Louisiana lost more than $1,000 as a result of scammers, requesting credit card information via e-mail, claimed to be calling for a deaf mute. Now, a similar situation has emerged within the film industry.

Terri Fair, general manager of Sagr Products in Gettysburg, Pa., says she received a call in February from someone claiming to be an AT&T operator calling for a deaf person. However, just hours prior to the call she learned of the scam through one of her dealers who had received three calls previously.

“[The caller] says she is speaking for a deaf person whose vehicle was in an accident and is at the body shop for repairs—repairs that include the re-tinting of windows that were shattered in the accident,” says Fair. “The caller indicates that payment has to be made to the body shop before the tinting can be scheduled then asks the tinter to pre-charge a personal credit card and have the money (check or cash) in the charged amount, ready for pick up to be delivered to the body shop, but the vehicle never shows up for tinting and a month later the charges are declined as they are using stolen credit cards.”

While this may be a new occurrence in the film industry, it’s something that many dealers are already seeing.

“Some are telling us they get one call a month and others say they get as many as five a day,” says Fair, explaining that when she received the call she was prepared.

“I answered her questions at first, to get her to trust me, and then I challenged her,” says Fair. “I asked her if she was really an AT&T operator and she said yes. So then I told her that the people she was working with on the other end were scammers and then she hung up on me.”

So what should film companies do if faced with a similar situation? Fair says the best bet is to always deal with the customer directly and never take the credit card information over the phone or wire money to anyone, anywhere.

Sarasota Window Film Dealer Helps Habitat Homeowners Save Energy
Solar-X of Sarasota, Fla., recently completed the first of what company officials hope to be many donated installations of window film on a home rehabilitated by Habitat for Humanity in Sarasota. Company president Lyman G. MacNutt tells Window Film magazine that his company got involved by volunteering their products and services to Habitat as a philanthropic project, and because of their close association with the American Society of Interior Design.

“Our local ASID chapter donates a great deal of members’ time and talents helping homeowners with interior design, and many of their wealthier clients’ ‘cast-offs’ from remodeling projects. I had no particular home in mind; in fact my thoughts were then, as they are now, to make it an ongoing commitment to provide free film and labor to Habitat as it is needed for their rehab homes,” says MacNutt. “Habitat not only helps people build new homes using sweat equity, volunteers, etc., but they also rehabilitate existing homes as part of a neighborhood stabilization project–cleaning up neighborhoods, and adding value to surrounding homes by cleaning up the target homes.”

He explains that new homes typically get insulating glass, but rehab homes might have perfectly serviceable windows that don’t need replacement.

“However, it would be nice to save energy and money for the people who own them. Any money that Habitat saves by not replacing existing windows and getting free window film can be put toward other improvements in the home renovation,” says MacNutt, who adds that when he approached his film manufacturer, Bekaert Specialty Films, about the Habitat project, they were enthusiastic and generous.

“They have made an ongoing commitment to provide us the film – we will provide the labor – free of charge, so that we might help Habitat homeowners to lower their energy bills.”

MacNutt continues, “I got together with Bekaert, and they committed to donating a continuing amount of film (we use only one kind, which keeps costs down), and we will provide the donated labor. Each home only needs about 80 to 100 square feet of film, so it’s not like they are big homes, and Habitat only wants to put film on the ‘necessary’ windows (mostly west-facing) and not abuse the situation,” says MacNutt, who adds that Dean Shelton, Habitat’s director of construction and field operations, “was great to work with, and equally enthusiastic.”

MacNutt says the opportunity to be a part of the Habitat project was a very rewarding experience, “if only to know that you are helping someone who very much needs it, and can help them in a positive and ongoing way. Many of these homeowners cannot afford to keep their homes up, hence, the home falls into disrepair and decay and the neighborhood goes downhill with it. A film installation will make it possible for them to better afford their utility bill, and make the home more energy efficient.”

Internationall News
Geoshield Announces New Distribution Location in Saudi Arabia; Partners with Florida Distributor
Fahad Almuzaini, a distributor for Geoshield products in the Gulf Coast countries, recently established a second location in Al-Hasa, Saudi Arabia. Faisal Bin Sultan will act as general supervisor for GeoshieldHasa, which will specialize in the installation of the company’s ceramic solar control window films for automotive, commercial and residential applications.

Geoshield president Burns Mulhearn tells Window Film magazine he sees the aftermarket automotive market in Saudi Arabia growing rapidly.

”I believe it is because customers are seeing the value in prolonging the enjoyment of their vehicles. Low energy prices and low consumer awareness continues to slow the flat glass market. But we are hoping the additional benefits of solar control window films will win out,” says Mulhearn. “We are learning that international growth is all about the right partner. Fahad has done a fantastic job in Saudi Arabia and we would love to have more distributors like him.”

In other news, John Diaz, president of Impact Film Supply in Tampa, Fla., recently established his company to act as Geoshield’s exclusive distributor for the state of Florida. Impact Film Supply will be carrying Geoshield’s full line of ceramic films including automotive, architectural and safety products.

Financial News
CPFilms 2009 Net Sales Increase 10 Percent
St. Louis-based Solutia Inc., parent company of CPFilms, released its fourth quarter and full-year results for 2009, and reported a 10-percent increase in net sales to $470 million from $429 million over the same period last year.

In the CPFilms segment specifically, fourth quarter 2009 net sales were $44 million, up $4 million or 10 percent from the same period in 2008. Adjusted EBITDA increased to $5 million for the fourth quarter of 2009 compared to $2 million in the same period in 2008, primarily due to reduced SG&A expense and lower raw materials costs, partially offset by higher manufacturing costs.

Adjusted EBITDA margins were at 11 percent for the fourth quarter of 2009 compared to 5 percent in the same period in 2008. Sales decreased $9 million or 17 percent and Adjusted EBITDA decreased $7 million or 58 percent compared to the third quarter in 2009. This sequential earnings decline was primarily due to seasonality in window film sales, according to the company’s report..

Company News
Artistic Details Can Help Tinters Diversify Business
Finding ways to diversify their operations has helped many in the window film industry stay afloat during slow business periods. And many will agree to do so involves finding ways to give customers something that they can’t find elsewhere, i.e., more bang for their buck. Architectural and decorative film products are value-added options that have become increasingly popular in recent years. And one Florida company is taking strides to help see this market continue to flourish.

Since 1981 Richard and Sue Purdum have owned Clearwater, Fla.-based SolarGraphics, a designer and installer of award-winning storefront window film graphics.

“We started the new business as a way to diversify because at the time there was a lot of competition in this area,” says Richard Purdum, who began his career as a tinter in 1970. “We started by overlaying the films and at the time we were hand-cutting everything.”

Purdum, who develops his own color films, tells Window Film magazine, though, that the company has seen continuous, steady growth since its start. In 1989 the company began training dealers and tinters to create their own film graphics.

“We have a training facility here and offer a three-day training program for experienced tinters,” says Purdum, who adds that they are currently working with dealers worldwide and have projects in a number of different countries.

“This is the type of product that can help any dealer go a step above [where they are already at],” says Purdum.

To showcase some of these innovative projects, last July Purdum began a “Window of the Week” newsletter, which highlights a unique storefront or window display.

“The ‘Window of the Week’ includes a brief bio of the project’s design and creation. The newsletter also gives the tinters a good idea of what they can do and it’s interesting for them to see the different designs that are possible. “We’ve attracted a lot of attention by sending it out,” Purdum says.

And now, as architectural glass sizes and projects are getting bigger and bigger, Purdum says he is starting to get a lot of calls from architects and is also working a lot more with architectural glass companies and the architectural film industry.

“When an architect calls [for a job in Texas] I need to be able to recommend a tinter in that area that can do the job,” says Purdum. “We’re working together to create that connection and the opportunities in the market are incredible.”

As far as future plans, Purdum says they are going to continue to focus on the architectural market and also developing their distributor base. He is also exploring new technologies.

“We’re starting to veer some into digital printing onto the films. This is normally two-thirds the cost of the film graphics, which are computer cut layouts,” says Purdum, who adds that he is still enjoying everything about the business.

“We’re having fun and enjoying what we do and that’s the key. I like it when a dealer calls me and tells me that he’s proud of the work he was able to create; and the business owners love it, too,” he says.

ASTIC Signals Defenses Earns NFRC Certification
ASTIC Signals Defenses (ASD) in Owings Mills, Md., has earned NFRC certification for its Signals Defenses® (SD) Technology, which it says can also help projects qualify for LEED credits for energy conservation. SD Technology products, which include surface applied films, are designed to provide electronic eavesdropping mitigation (including RF flood attacks and LASER attacks).

“SD Technology’s genesis was to meet the stringent Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM) requirements of the U.S. Department of Defense, however its certified energy savings performance now is allowing our clients to procure using their energy budgets. Additionally, SD Technology fits nicely with the vision of the current legislative bills in the House (H.R. 2454) and Senate (S.1733 & S.1462) for energy conservation and climate change,” says Ron Waranowski, ASD’s managing director. “SD Technology provides multi-use benefits for eavesdropping mitigation, energy conservation, physical security and a healthy environment for both people and electronic equipment by blocking RF, IR and UV energy.”




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