Eastman Acquires Dalian Ai-Red Technology

Eastman Chemical Company announced it has acquired Ai-Red Technology (Dalian) Co., Ltd., a manufacturer and supplier of paint protection and window film for auto and architectural markets in the Asia Pacific region.

This acquisition demonstrates Eastman’s commitment to driving growth in Performance Films and the paint protection and window film markets, according to the release. The investment strengthens the company’s ability to deliver consistent value as a specialty materials company and expands the service level in China and the Asia Pacific region. This site will align with Eastman Performance Films operations and its standard of quality supply into the market, adds the release.

“This acquisition provides additional capacity to serve the growing demand for our paint protection and window film products and creates additional capacity for innovation and product scale-up from our existing operations,” says Erin Bernhardt, vice president and general manager of the Performance Films business of Eastman’s Advanced Materials segment. “By adding this capacity and team to Eastman’s industry-leading team, technologies, and brands, we expect to accelerate an already aggressive growth trajectory in automotive and architectural aftermarket films.”

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Camaraderie Over Confidentiality: Brent Knott’s Warm Industry Welcome

All of Brent Knott’s meals in 2013 came courtesy of a worn hot plate. Living in a hotel, Knott had just left a grassroots drifting gig after a business partnership turned sour. But a 2012 Porsche Cayman bridged the gap between Knott’s past and present.

Brent Knott has progressed since his first major wrap project in 2013.

Film Means Family

“There was a Porsche down in Fernandina Beach, Fla., that a guy needed wrapped,” he says. “A friend of mine worked in Historic Sportscar Racing. I had met him at one of the events we hosted. At the time, I had only wrapped my Miata and an F-150 for a tire shop.”

Knott’s vinyl of choice was Hexis’ Gloss Emerald Green Vinyl Wrap. He forged a crucial connection while picking it up from the company’s former Jacksonville location.

“He was getting water, talking to people upfront,” Knott says of his first interaction with Jeremy Conner, owner of Who Did That Inc. in Charlotte, N.C. “His jacket said ‘certified trainer,’ so I just asked: ‘I’ve never wrapped a Porsche before—you got any tips?’ I was welcomed into the industry with love. The wrap industry is good at that.”

Hexis’ Advanced Wrapping course gives “the trainees all the ‘tips’ to learn how to optimize the handling of Hexis adhesive films to perform a full wrap. The trainer will answer any questions, demonstrate the practical techniques and will take into account the level of knowledge of each participant.”

Knott didn’t enroll that day, but Conner shared pointers and his phone number ahead of a pressure-packed Porsche application full of potential.

Porsches on Porsches

Brent Knott added a second location in 2022 and his third this January.

“He told me how to manipulate bumpers, which was probably the biggest thing,” Knott says. “I don’t think I could have done it without that advice. PPF glides into place, but with wraps, you’re guessing. He gave me pointers on how to manipulate the film and create stretch and tension; to get things to mold into place.”

The installation was a learning experience for Knott, who took two weeks to complete the project. Then a satisfied client generated more business.

“He ended up referring me to the chief financial officer of his business, and I wrapped his car,” Knott says. “I ended up wrapping a total of four Porsches back-to-back while living at a hotel.”

Knott says Conner’s mentorship provided a pathway when he needed it.

“That person providing me the opportunity to potentially do an even better job may have been the pivotal point that changed my life,” Knott adds. “Had I done a bad job, his connections would have never done business with me.”

The Secrets of the Trade

What are secrets worth in the world of PPF and vinyl wrap applications? Conner shared his in 2013 and shifted Knott’s career trajectory.

Brent Knott is focused on guiding his team in and out of the installation bay.

“Everything is known because of YouTube and the internet,” Knott says. “There’s a shift toward this giving mindset. Provide value for other people, and you get value back.”

Nearly a decade later, Knott owns Design It Wraps and Tint in Fernandina Beach, Fla. He added a second location in 2022 and his third this January. Knott manages 11 employees.

“That’s my biggest driving factor,” Knott says of his team. “It would be a disservice to not teach my team how to think for themselves and create opportunities for themselves. All my team members have an opportunity for profit share and equity in these locations.”

Editor’s Note: Keep up with the PPF and wrap world on the go by following our Instagram—Windowfilmmag. I look forward to connecting with you!

PPF Projects: The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

The first production model of the 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 rolled off the line at General Motors’ Bowling Green, Ky., Plant in November 2022. And it didn’t take long for automotive enthusiasts to seek protection for their new 670 horsepower beasts. Just two months later, in January 2023, Finishing Touch Detailing and Paint Correction in Maryville, Tenn., got to work on a Torch Red model of MotorTrend’s Performance Vehicle of the Year.

The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 packs 670 horsepower.

Owners David and Hope Francis, lead paint protection film (PPF) installer James Burger, shop manager Zach Roberts and lead paint correction tech Daniel Herman all contributed to the project. The job took six days with two days of pre- and post-prep work. Applicators installed XPEL Ultimate Plus PPF and a ceramic coating post-PPF installation.

David Francis, who used a Roland GX640 Camm-1 Pro Series 64-inch plotter for all of the panels, says, “The front bumper required 15 pieces of PPF alone. I stopped counting pieces of film after 50.”

PPF: How much of the car did you install PPF on?
James Burger: All of the painted panels, with the exception of the rear bumper, were covered in XPEL Ultimate Plus PPF. The rear bumper was not covered because XPEL’s Design Access Program (DAP) does not have a rear bumper pattern, and the customer did not want to risk cutting on paint for a bulk installation. We placed rear splash guards behind the rear tires in the meantime until a full pattern is released for the car.

PPF: What tools did you use?
James Burger: DAP, XPEL Ultimate Plus PPF, a black squeegee and a small blue angled squeegee; Roland plotter, two five-gallon tint kegs (one with slip, and one with tack); and race ramps to elevate the vehicle and plenty of lighting.

The 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 in Torch Red.

PPF: How did you decide which elements to tackle first?
James Burger: We typically install front to rear. This was how I was trained, and I continue to do so. I start with the front bumper or sometimes the hood first.

PPF: In terms of installation difficulty, how would you describe this installation?
James Burger: Some of the Z06 panels are similar to other C8 Corvette models. However, some panels, such as the front bumper, have been given a more aggressive look and sharper angles. There are sharp edges near the vents on each side, which makes wrapping them very difficult. In DAP, I modified the pattern in several places to get maximum coverage. DAP only had a Z07 Performance Package front bumper which is similar. The more aggressive front bumper proved difficult, but as more Z06 models come through the shop, we fully expect to have our installation methods perfected.

PPF: What were the difficult elements of the installation process?
James Burger: Difficult aspects of the installation are tacking the PPF on to fresh paint, debris control and it being an unfamiliar vehicle. Our process is similar to every other vehicle we work on because we get awesome results with it. We systematically clean our PPF bay, remove all badging, wash the vehicle, use a clay bar, wipe each panel with isopropyl alcohol and then plot and weed the pattern. Finally, we apply PPF at the front of the vehicle and work our way to the rear.

PPF: Can you share tips and tricks for those tackling the car for the first time?
James Burger: Tips and tricks are extending the PPF edges in DAP along the front bumper and around the vents for maximum coverage. For the most part, all panels were pretty simple.

Please contact me at ccollier@glass.com if you’d like to participate in this new series. And check out the series’ first two entries below.

PPF Projects: The 2022 Toyota Tundra

PPF Projects: The 2022 Ford F-150 Raptor

ICYMI: International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ 2023 Dates and Location Announced

The International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ 2023 is heading to the shoreline! The oceanside town of Virginia Beach, VA, will be the location of the annual event designed specifically for the automotive, architectural, decorative, security and energy film industry, as well as paint protection and ceramic coatings. Lock in the dates of September 20-22 as the education, exciting competitions, exhibition floor, and excellent experiences head East.

Visit wfctevent.com to sign up for regular event updates to be sent directly. That will ensure you don’t miss any deadlines, opportunities, or announcements surrounding 2023 programs.

See you by the seaside in September!

Texas’ CoolVu College Station and Mint Tinting Team Up For New Company

Clayton Summerall, owner of Mint Tinting and now PPF Bros, works on a Chevrolet truck.

The owners of CoolVu College Station in College Station, Texas, and Mint Tinting in Bryan, Texas, announced a new business called PPF Bros. CoolVu College Station focuses on flat glass work for the commercial and residential segments. In contrast, Mint Tinting works on automotive tint and specialty projects. PPF Bros launches as an authorized STEK and Geoshield USA dealer in Bryan, Texas, in March 2023.

Chris Baker, owner of CoolVu College Station and now PPF Bros, has spent 10 years in the film industry and eight years in the PPF segment. Baker has experience with PPF as the lead installer for multiple luxury dealerships.

“I’m bringing my extensive knowledge to PPF Bros and will serve as a leader and trainer for our company,” Baker says.

Clayton Summerall, owner of Mint Tinting and now PPF Bros, has experience handling large projects, from six-figure flat glass jobs to NASA projects. Clayton brings enthusiasm for the PPF world and marketing experience.

“After working with the biggest companies in the world and working on multi-million dollar projects, I feel confident in handling every challenge you can throw at me,” Summerall adds.

Editor’s Note: Are you an industry company eager to share store expansion plans, new hires or acquisition details? PPFMag is the ideal spot for exposure. Reach out to me at ccollier@glass.com for potential coverage.