The Next Step
The Industry’s Newest Film Manufacturer Says it’s Taking
a New Approach to Business
By Ellen Rogers
At a time when so many businesses are shutting down or cutting
back, you might wonder why anyone would even think about starting a new
company. After all, given the state of the current economy, the odds of
succeeding don’t necessarily seem favorable. But perhaps even more unusual
than simply opening a new business, is launching a brand new manufacturing
company and, in this particular case, a window film manufacturing company.
With the overall economy down, some may wonder if the industry needs another
film manufacturer? For one particular company, the answer is yes.
Erickson International is a new window film manufacturing company that
opened last September in Las Vegas. According to principals Pierre Chraghchian
and Alexander Sardarian, the downturn in the economy has made many window
film retailers look for alternative options to be able to remain competitive.
“This created an amazing opportunity for us to introduce our American
Standard Window Film (ASWF) product line,” says Chraghchian.
Just as it takes a different approach to open a new business when so many
others are shutting their doors, Erickson, too, is taking a different
approach to the way it’s doing business. Take, for instance, the SEMA
show last November. With the event in Las Vegas, Erickson officials used
the opportunity to bring customers and potential customers into their
new 60,000-square-foot facility and show them firsthand exactly what their
operations are like—operations that include what they call a “first-of-its-kind
machine” that aligns, cleans, controls the tension of the product and
builds a completely finished product in one machine pass.
It is this approach to market that Chraghchian and Sardarian say will
help see them through these challenging times.
“Having structured the mission and goals of the company around the ideas
of better quality and better service, we are uniquely positioned to meet
those needs,” Chraghchian says.
Erickson International may be new to the market, but the members of its
management team are veterans of the film industry. The history, in fact,
can even be traced back about 15 years to a tint shop in St. Petersburg,
“The founding members of Erickson International have been involved in
distribution of window film in the international and California markets,”
says Chraghchian. “As the territories of distribution expanded and sales
volume increased, the necessity to have a more dependable, consistent
and unrestricted source of supply became more and more critical. Without
our own manufacturing facility, our distribution company’s growth was
restricted by existing suppliers, limited sales territories and product
In 2007 the decision was made to start a manufacturing facility. Mike
Martin, who had worked for Solar Gard for ten years, was brought on board
to run the manufacturing operation.
“Together, we selected a machine design and went forward with the purchase
of the equipment, the building, the testing, the installation and now
we are at the manufacturing phase,” says Martin, who serves as the president
of the company.
The economy has changed drastically since those initial plans were laid
out and even companies with a long history in business are struggling.
The Erickson team was ready for the challenge.
“When we began planning to build a window film manufacturing facility,
we had to account for financially challenging days. Whether caused by
a downturn in the economy or challenges by other market forces and competitors,
we knew we had to anticipate and strategically plan for tough times,”
According to Martin, the fact that the economy is down can also be viewed
as an advantage.
“There are a lot of people selling film looking for a better deal. Sales
are down, people need to cut costs, improve margins and they want a quality
product at a lower cost,” says Martin. “With our equipment we have the
ability to compress manufacturing into a very efficient process with lower
waste so we can afford to sell the product at a lower cost while still
using quality materials.”
And it’s the production process that company officials say will help to
differentiate the business. Martin explains that most film manufacturers
use tandem coaters that allow them to put two coatings on two films and
then wind them up, creating a work-in-process roll or a finished goods
“We’ve designed and installed a three-head coater. What we do is take
three raw material rolls, three coatings, and then coat and laminate the
product to a finished goods stage,” says Martin. “We then go a step further
and convert the finished goods stage into a sellable product by slitting
and rewinding to the final core.”
He continues, “You only have to handle the material once—you unwind the
large master roll once and you rewind it into a final finished product.
This also helps reduce scrap and waste.” He says the machine provides
the company with the capability to run 800 to 1,000 rolls a day.
Raw materials used for the company’s window film products, both film and
coatings, are sourced from domestic suppliers.
“We do not purchase or repackage any foreign-made finished window film
products,” Chraghchian adds.
As far as shipping and receiving, each territory or market utilizes various
delivery methods. |
“We are not committed to any one carrier and will use the one that provides
the best available service for our customers. In most cases the customers
will have the opportunity to choose from available carrier companies,”
says Chraghchian. “We have no immediate plans to have delivery trucks,
although we may decide to incorporate this method of delivery for specific
There were a number of initial challenges in getting the new company off
“The biggest challenge was secrecy because, at the time [Chraghchian and
Sardarian] were also buying film from manufacturers and the fact that
they were going to become a manufacturer could have created a problem,”
says Martin. “We could not reveal that to anyone in the current manufacturing
community or to any suppliers the existence of the project without risking
their current supply of film,” Martin says, explaining that if the partners’
suppliers knew of their plans to start a manufacturing company they could
have chosen to not sell them film anymore. “Then, for all those months
that it would take to get the machine in place, started up, etc., the
well would be dry,” says Martin.
“We recognize that being a new company that’s offering a new product,
we will be competing with companies that have significant brand name recognition
and customer loyalty. In today’s free global economy, consumers have the
option to choose what and from whom they purchase,” Chraghchian says.
“These decisions are usually based on factors such as quality, service,
price and convenience. This is how an open market economy operates. As a
result of this, free competition products and services benefit the
Another early challenge was dealing with raw materials suppliers because,
as Martin explains, the company essentially just “popped up” on the map.
“Being a brand new company, we had no credit background and it was hard
to believe that a window film company would appear out of nowhere,” says
Martin. “So lining up the supply agreements to get raw materials was a
challenge. It helped that I knew a lot of them from my old working days
so they gave us some trust there, but it was still a challenge.”
Chraghchian adds, “Starting-up a new manufacturing facility is certainly
not without challenges. We take it one day at time working through
issues as we encounter them, looking ahead to anticipate any problems
as best we can, and learning from our mistakes.”
a new manufacturing facility is certainly not without challenges.
We take it one day at time working through issues as we encounter
them, looking ahead to
anticipate any problems as best we can,and
learning from our mistakes."
– Pierre Chraghchian
The company is focusing its efforts on the automotive market and offers
60 different products. Plans for other new products, growth and expansion,
are in the works.
“Currently we are focused on expanding our distribution network both domestically
and internationally,” says Chraghchian who explains that the ASWF products
are distributed both factory direct and also through independent distributors.
The company’s only factory-direct distribution center is in Las Vegas, but
Chraghchian says they have plans to open several additional factory-direct
“California and Colorado (and surrounding states) are being serviced by
independent distributors,” he adds. “We are not much different from most
other manufacturers. We will sell direct in certain territories and we will
sell through distributors in others. There are many factors associated with
deciding on factory direct, factory-owned distributor or independent distributor
distribution infrastructure. We will take it state by state and decide how
best to distribute: factory direct, factory-owned distributor or independent
Several trends have influenced product developments, including non-reflective
products that don’t interfere with electronics such as global positioning
systems, cell phones and radio signals.
The company is also prepared to take on this anticipated growth. Martin
points out, “If we run out of capacity on this machine we’ll likely put
in another next to it. This building has a lot of room for expansion and
we’re only taking up about 25 percent of the building and the rest of it
is available if we need it,” says Miller.
Different Company, Different Thinking
Having been in operation for less than a year, Chraghchian is optimistic
about the company’s future.
“We came from a window film sales and distribution background. We understand
the needs of the distributor, sales personnel and installer,” Chraghchian
says. “Having been on the opposite side of manufacturing, we are committed
to raising the standard on customer service.”
Likewise, the company is being extremely open about who it is and what it
does, and that includes bringing people in to see and tour the facility.
“Most window film companies will never show their equipment,” says Martin
of the tours they conducted around the SEMA show. “We also made a YouTube
video and put it out the day of our grand opening. We’re saying, ‘here’s
what we have—come see it and try it.’”
And Chraghchian adds that their launch efforts helped generate a huge amount
of interest from potential distributors and buyers.
“We learned very quickly that the window film market was starving for a
new supplier that understood their needs and requirements,” he says. “Having
structured [our] mission and goals around the ideas of quality and service,
we are uniquely positioned to meet those needs.”
And going forward, Chraghchian says they have a very simple business philosophy:
treat customers and employees the way they would like to be treated.
“The success of any company is greatly dependent on the performance of its
employees and the success and satisfaction of its customers,” he says. “We
are dedicated to creating a healthy and pleasant work environment, attracting
the most qualified and talented employees and translating that same culture
to our customers to help ensure their success.”
Ellen Rogers is the editor of
Window Film magazine.
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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.