Volume 16, Issue 6 - November/December 2012

feature

Reaching for Greatness
International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off Raises the Bar
by Casey Neeley

This year’s International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ offered many new opportunities for members of the window film industry. The event, which took place in Louisville, Ky., was co-sponsored by the International Window Film Assocation (IWFA) and Window Film magazine. In addition to the various educational seminars and vendor booths, installers and technicians were invited to compete for the coveted champion titles in both the architectural and automotive Tint-Off™ competitions. An architectural division of the tinting competition also returned this year and was received with great success.

Tinting Titleholders
Hann Kim of STM (Solar Transmission Management) in Los Angeles was this year’s first-place architectural winner. He took home $5,000, a gold medal and a trophy.

Kim says his performance in the Tint-Off offers him a sense of security in his business practices.

“My strategy was to perform at my optimum best,” Kim says. “We just perform what we normally would do and being able to perform and demonstrate what we practice in our business was just affirming that what we have in place is correct.”

Chris Brooks from Kauffs Tint and Graphics in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., took second place with a $1,500 prize and silver medal and Ty Sullivan from SPF Window Tinting in Hattiesburg, Miss., who placed third, received $500 and a bronze medal. Sixteen individuals competed.

The first-, second- and third-place winners for the automotive division were chosen from the 56 competitors registered to compete in the Automotive Tint-Off™ competition.

The automotive champion, Jason Petty from Keltint Customs in Crossville, Tenn., says he was shocked to find out he won.

“I didn’t come to win,” says Petty. “That’s what makes the whole thing mind blowing for me. I was content to do better than half.” The unlikely champion claims he initially did not have the confidence to compete, but was inspired by his boss. “My boss sent me to the competition,” says Petty. “I didn’t think I could win it; he thought I could.”

“There are a lot of installers who feel they need to lower their price because they’re not the best,” Petty continues. “I got where I am today because people believed in me and believed that I was the best and I was a professional. Eventually I started believing it, too.”

As the first-place winner, Petty was the recipient of a $10,000 prize, a gold medal and a trophy.

Chris Robinson from The Tint Guy in Woodstock, Ga., placed second with a prize of $3,000 and a silver medal. Chris Brooks took third place and received $1,000 and a bronze medal. This was Brooks’ fourth time competing in the automotive tint competition. He won the silver medal in 2008 and took home the gold in 2011.

Competitors in both architectural heats and the automotive finals had 60 minutes to complete their installations. Judging for the events was based on quality, not time.

Both champions agreed their competition was steep.

“The competition was very close,” says Kim. “The top ten guys could have gone any way. I’m very fortunate to have won, but I could have very easily have been second or third. The competition is stiff.”

“I think everyone that has won in the past, definitely the finalists, has a lot of talent,” adds Petty.

To learn more about the winners, see the box on page 33.

Keynote Lessons
Building on Petty’s lesson about believing in yourself, keynote speaker Captain Richard Phillips shared his remarkable story and lessons for strong leadership as the ship captain who offered himself as a hostage to Somali pirates in order to protect the lives of his 20 crew members.

Phillips drew on his experience to offer lessons with business applications. “You are much stronger than even you know; the only time that all is lost is when you choose to give up; and a dedicated professional team can overcome any obstacle,” he said.

Phillips’ other lesson was the universal axiom, “hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”

He said he knew he would eventually encounter pirates and referred to the situation as “a matter of when, not if.” To fully prepare his crew for that situation, Phillips chose to consistently run security drills on the ship to help discover and solve problems he and his crew faced when securing the ship.

“There was some grumbling about the drill … but a few days later the crew was real glad we took some time to prepare for the worst,” he recalled.

After the ship was pursued and boarded by four armed pirates, Phillips knew the drills had helped to ensure the crew’s safety.

“At sea, you don’t get to pass the buck,” Phillips said. “At sea, you get to learn firsthand how strong you are.”

Phillips ultimately attributes his ability to save his crew and escape unharmed to his demeanor while handling the crisis.

“I don’t think anyone solved has ever their crises by being panicked,” he said.

For Phillips, the real heroes were the U.S. Navy SEALs who rescued him and their ability to work together as a team.

“The dedication they have to one another and the precision with which they execute their missions proves beyond any doubt that a dedicated, motivated team can overcome any obstacle and solve any problem,” says Phillips. “There is one simple reason I’m here today … a team of dedicated professionals who did what it took to accomplish their mission.”

Industry Experts
The primary focus of this year’s seminars was on the ever-changing nature of the window film industry.

Both Kelly McDonald of McDonald Marketing and Monica Baraket, an online marketing strategist with Forge3, discussed the importance of marketing a company.

Kelly McDonald of McDonald Marketing returned to this year’s event with new tips for customer service.

McDonald opened her session “How to Keep Customers Rushing Back for More,” by saying, “I’m really passionate about customer service because … although you can’t control the economy, you can’t control the stock market … the one thing that is in your control is the customer service experience.”

McDonald also noted the idea that “customer service is dead” and explained that “we’re losing our ability to be polite and courteous with one another.”

Baraket, discussed the fact that technology has “already empowered [customers] with a lot of information before they even walk through your door or pick up the phone.” Employing these social mediums and using them in your favor can help a business grow and reach new markets. She did warn, however, “having a presence to just have it can hurt you more than not being on these social media platforms.”

Continuing the theme of knowing your customer and knowing your product, Mark Carlson, business development manager for HanitaTek Window Films stated in his presentation “Exterior Films—How and When?” that knowing when and how to use exterior films could boost the efficiency and sales for a company. He also discussed the lifespan of the films and how to turn their anticipated failure into a sales opportunity. For businesses that already have film installed on the interior, a far more cost-effective option than removing and reinstalling a new interior film is to install an exterior film.

Bids for exterior films are going to be more openly and readily received by most companies since this will not impede their daily business functions, particularly when working with medical and governmental buildings. “By offering [to install exterior films], you will win jobs you would have otherwise had out of reach,” said Carlson.

Changes to the industry were the most heavily discussed topics throughout the seminars. In a welcome seminar and industry update, John Parker, president of the IWFA and owner of National Security and Window Filming in Oak Forest, Ill., cited the recent regulations in California that have helped to make window film a more recognizable industry. He also noted that this boost in recognition is not limited to California. “It’s already coming east,” said Parker. “I’m getting calls from customers who are saying that they had never heard of window film who are hearing of it now.”

“Window film has more credibility now than it ever had before,” continued Parker.

Meet This Year’s Tint-Off™ Winners!
International Window Film Tint-Off™ Competition winners for the automotive and architectural divisions, Jason Petty and Hann Kim, say they are honored to receive their respective awards.

“The greatest change so far for me is the realization that all the effort you put into this industry, when you install at your peak, optimum performance is recognized,” says Kim, CEO of STM (Solar Transmission Management) in Los Angeles and gold medalist of the Tint-Off Architectural Division™. “It was nice to see the recognition I received from my peers.”

“I think the biggest change is who I see looking back in the mirror now is a champion,” states Petty, first-place winner in the Tint-Off Automotive Division™ competition and installer at Keltint Customs in Crossville, Tenn. “I have to live up to my title now. It’s a positive attitude change.”

“In the area where I work, there are three shops within a 100-mile radius that say they’re the best; we’ve got someone else to say it for us,” adds Petty.

2013 International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ Dates and Location Set
The International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (IWFC) 2013 has been scheduled for September 18-20 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina and the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Fla. Auto Glass Week™ will also be held concurrently.

"We heartily invite everyone in the auto glass and window film industries to attend," says Ally Curran, event coordinator of the IWFC. "Tampa will have something for everyone and I hope those who were unable to make it to Louisville this year can join us next year in Tampa."

The Tint-Off™ competitions will return in 2013. The event will once again managed and co-sponsored by Window Film magazine.

Registration and the hotel room block will open soon. Stay tuned to www.windowfilmmag.com/IWFC for the latest information as it becomes available.


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