Meeting in the Middle: Georgia Film Shops Tint for Time

Three-year-old Hailey Holder Allen (H2) has a 10% chance to live at this stage of her battle with stage IV Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), an extremely aggressive sarcoma typically found in muscles attached to bones. She has tumors in both thighs, has gone through numerous surgeries and finished 54 weeks of Chemotherapy in August 2020. On Saturday, October 16, middle Georgia film shops converged and combined forces at Tint Pro in Warner Robins, Ga., to ensure her fight continues.

Middle Georgia film shops showed up in numbers.

The event—dubbed Tinting for Time—saw tinters donate their time to ensure Allen and her family can fully utilize their time together. Tint Pro owner Kyle Fuller and his team pre-scheduled 30 cars for the event, tinting with several participating businesses: Sun Shield Window Tinting in Warner Robins, Ga.; Eastcoast Motorsports in St. Marys, Ga.; Tint Hozilla in Forsyth, Ga.; Surface – Tint, Wraps, and Design in Forsyth, Ga.; Nicetints in Valdosta, Ga.; Tint By Leigh in Jefferson, Ga.; The Tint Diva in Gadsden, Ala.; and TNT Window Tinting/Sun Stoppers in Newnan, Ga.

Generating Hope

The event generated $9,500 in tinting sales. An additional $2,600 (and counting) has been raised through donations from the film community. Chuck Cochran, owner of Eastcoast Motorsports in St. Marys, Ga., traveled four hours with his family to contribute to the cause.

“We can do so much as a community for them because, one day, we may need the same thing from our own industry,” Cochran says.

Chris Davidson, owner of Darken The Day Window Tint & Protective Films in Macon, Ga., took his talents to Warner Robins because the community assisted him in a time of need.

“This isn’t the first time this has happened—the industry comes together when it’s something serious,” Davidson says. “I went to the hospital for four days with kidney failure. I came out of the hospital, and when I got to my house, there was probably $2,500 to $3,000 worth of stuff that people had sent from across the country.”

Installers teamed up to tackle tricky rides.

Adam Escoe, owner of Nicetints in Valdosta, Ga., traveled more than two hours to participate in the event. “I love giving back—love the industry [and] love everybody that’s involved with it. Anytime we can step in and help give back, especially for a great cause, we’re all for it.”

One Cause, One Community

Shiloh Veterans Memorial Association, a non-profit 501c3 Heritage Perseveration Association, sold cotton candy, boiled peanuts, hamburgers and hot dogs, donating all funds to Allen’s family. Association founder James Hall grew up around philanthropic parents and hopes the event fosters togetherness.

“There’s still a lot of good in this community, but the way things are nowadays, a lot has changed,” Hall says. “If there’s a cause that I can support, I’m going to be there to do it. Nothing touches your heart more than a child.”

When the tint bays were emptied and car keys were handed back to their owners, Fuller reflected on the event’s impact on the Allen family.

Fuller arrived at 7 a.m. to prep for the day.

“I have three children,” Fuller says. “I’ve got a six and a seven-year old and a six-month-old. I could not imagine not being able to have this time with my kids . . . Just giving this family time is the one thing I wanted out of this, and I think that we’re able to help do that for a little while.”

Hailey Allen spoke on the event as her daughter played in a princess-themed bounce house. “We’re so grateful. When she relapsed, I was kind of terrified. We had already asked so much of the community during her first two years of treatment. For her to relapse, knowing it was going to be a tougher battle and knowing what her prognosis was, I wondered how we would be able to do it ourselves. But the community has once again shown up, and we’re so grateful.”

A link to the family’s GoFundMe can be found below:

Owners of T&T Tinting Specialists Turning Company Over to Employees

Hawaii’s T&T Tinting Specialists, Inc. has completed a transaction to become 100% employee-owned through its newly-created Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The company was founded in Honolulu in 1982 and provides the installation of window films, paint protection films (PPF) for vehicles, solar, security and graffiti protection films, and custom glass graphics for residential and commercial buildings in the state.

T&T Tinting’s team is ready for the next chapter.

Heading into its 40th year, T&T Tinting’s CEO Tommy Silva has transitioned 100% of the company’s total ownership to all company employees through a qualified retirement plan known as an ESOP. All eligible employees will be granted shares of company stock each year at no cost, allowing them to earn ownership over time and accumulate additional tax-deferred retirement wealth on top of their current 401k program.

“Each employee of T&T Tinting is a highly valued and trusted team member,” Silva says. “We want our employees to feel that they ‘own and operate’ their own business which fosters tremendous pride and aloha resulting from owning actual stakes in the company. We also want our employees to benefit far beyond their wages and 401k plan as they continue to help build and grow T&T Tinting. Together we strive to be more innovative, creative and responsive to our customers’ needs.”

Silva implemented this plan because he felt it was the most sustainable path forward for the employees of T&T while protecting the legacy he has built with them. The company is on WINDOW FILM magazine’s 2021 Top Dealer list and is expected to hit nearly $5 million in sales by year’s end.

“Legacy was a critical factor in selecting this ESOP transaction, but equally as important was ensuring that anything we did as owners would directly motivate and help the employees continue to succeed,” Silva adds.

T&T Tinting installs window films supplied by Eastman Performance Films. Darrell Reed, commercial director of Eastman Performance Films, applauded the move.

“On behalf of Eastman, we would like to congratulate Tommy, Teri and their team on 40 years of business excellence,” Reed says. “The success of the T&T is based on their relentless focus on providing an outstanding customer experience, disciplined business practices while still being able to cultivate a family culture with their employees. The decision by Tommy and Teri to move forward with an ESOP for their employees embodies the family culture they have created. We are very proud to be T&T’s supplier for the last 40 years and excited to continue working with the T&T team going forward as they continue the amazing legacy they all helped build.”

Investment banking firm Ambrose Advisors advised Silva with the transition.

“Tommy Silva’s goal was to secure a sustainable future for T&T Tinting Specialists in a manner that would be highly beneficial to its employees, customers, supplier partners, vendors, and the local community,” says Michael Harden of Ambrose Advisors.

XPEL Announces Multiple Acquisitions in North America

XPEL, Inc., a global provider of protective films and coatings, has announced the acquisition of five businesses in the United States and Canada from two sellers.

XPEL’s booth at the 2021 International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) featured an arctic-white Jaguar F-Type.

Shadow Shield: A distributor of paint protection film (PPF) and window film to customers in Canada with locations in Calgary, Alberta and Mississauga, Ontario.

Shadow Tint: An installer of paint protection and window film operating in Calgary, Alberta.

North 1 Technologies: A software company providing software and patterns for cutting paint protection film to customers around the world under the FilmWraps brand.

In the United States:

One Armor: An installer of paint protection and window film in Phoenix, Ariz.

Tint Net: A high-volume installer of automotive window film providing on-site service serving mostly mid-range new car dealerships in Arizona.

The combined purchase price of these acquisitions is approximately $20.1 million (USD) and is subject to customary adjustments, including working capital adjustments. These acquisitions closed on October 1, 2021.

On a full year basis, these combined acquisitions would add revenue of approximately $17.0 million. After integration, the company expects full-year post-synergy earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of approximately $4 million which the company expects to occur on a run-rate basis beginning in Q2 2022. The company also expects to incur approximately $0.3 million in acquisition and integration related expenses and is funding the transaction with existing cash on hand and available credit facilities.

“XPEL remains a willing buyer of businesses that expand upon our core strategies, from sellers that are looking for their next journey with a winning and dynamic team,” says Ryan Pape, president and CEO of XPEL. “These acquisitions are consistent with our go-to-market strategy and our desire to add top talent to the team.”

Eastman Completes Acquisition of PremiumShield

Eastman Chemical Company has completed the acquisition of the business and assets of Matrix Films, LLC and its UK affiliate, PremiumShield Limited, marketer of PremiumShield performance films, including its extended line of automotive film patterns.

Eastman initially announced the agreement on September 13.

“The completion of this acquisition is another step in Eastman’s commitment to being a leading innovator and service partner for paint protection and window film professional installers,” says Erin Bernhardt, general manager of Eastman’s Performance Films business. “We’re extremely excited to add the PremiumShield team, assets, and dealer base to our Eastman Performance Films team.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The newly acquired business is part of Eastman’s Performance Films business of the company’s Advanced Materials segment.

The Sun Stops Here: Mike Burke Finds his Team

Mike Burke’s first car was a 1984 Ford Escort Station Wagon, a four-speed, family-hauler that puffed black smoke at the onset of second gear. The 16-year old creative leaned into stenciling, drawing and airbrush work during his high school years—and it’s a good thing, too. He channeled the imaginative side of his brain to shield his wagon from the world.

Mike Burke didn’t limo-tint his 1984 Ford Escort Station Wagon for style—he did it for privacy.

Do Not Disturb

“I went to Pep Boys and bought a roll of window film,” Burke says. “Under an oak tree at my mom and dad’s house when I was 16 years old, I tinted my Escort Station Wagon with limo tint.”

Burke’s overall goal was privacy, privacy and privacy. But his shaded secret wasn’t kept for long.

“When my friends started dissecting the window tint, they realized there were light-gaps everywhere,” he says. “I went and bought another roll of film and tinted the windows with two layers of limo tint. I made the second pattern bigger to cover up the light gaps of the first one.”

Charlotte, N.C., was home to only one tint shop in 1988. Soon enough, Burke’s desire for solitude transitioned into unexpected dollar signs. He had tinted 50 cars by the time he was 17-18 years old. His schedule was stacked in college, but he still made time for his Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity brothers at Western Carolina University.

“I had a passion for making money, and I had a passion for people where there was a need and I could feel that want,” Burke says. “When somebody has the need and they go, ‘Hey, Mike, I heard you tint windows—can you tint my car?’ I don’t like to disappoint people, and I like it when people need me for something.”

After graduating with a marketing degree, Burke sold cars at Scott Clark Toyota in Matthews, N.C. He sold three cars during his first day, and within a month and a half, he was the number one salesman each month for seven straight months. The gig set his current career’s tone.

“When I showed up to work, I don’t make a dime unless I produce,” Burke says. “Right then and there, I was 21 years old, living at home with my parents, and I had learned one of the most valuable lessons in the world—you’re paid off performance.”

Burke founded Lightning Mike’s with a chip on his shoulder.

The Search

But Burke says he didn’t know himself in 1995. The three-year college graduate had $19,000 in the bank, a Chevrolet pickup truck, a Yamaha VMAX and a desire for more. He founded Innovations Auto Tinting and Detailing in Myrtle Beach, S.C., waiting tables at Quincy’s Family Steakhouse. He returned home a year later with -$300 in his bank account.

“I didn’t know how to manage money; I didn’t know how to manage my time,” Burke says. “I was mad at my father. My father looked at me and said, ‘I didn’t pay for you to go to college to be a window tinter.’ I had a chip on my shoulder down at the beach. I started partying, drinking and not living up to my father’s expectations of what he thought I could be.”

After a brief career in car financing, Burke then founded his mobile tinting initiative—The Tint Man. For three years, he freelanced his way in and out of auto accessory shops in Charlotte. After building his reputation, he opened the doors to Lightning Mike’s Window Tinting. The shop offered wheels, tires and stereos in addition to tinting. But Burke was moving too fast, working from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. A heart attack forced him to shelf his industry run.

“I burnt out, and I sold Lightning Mike’s,” he says. “We had our first child and I retired for two years. I built a house, had a baby and started an advertising agency called Pinpoint Advertising. I did websites, T-shirts, branding and [hired] a full-time graphic designer. I went around and did branding and marketing for companies.”

Burke leans on his Sun Stoppers squad for support.

But Lightning Mike’s new owner was struggling to manage the business Burke had sold him and ended up defaulting. Burke rebranded, renovated and re-opened as Sun Stoppers in 2004 after the swift ownership shift. He credits his stint in marketing to 80% of his current-day success.

“While I was traveling around selling advertising, we would meet clients at Caribou Coffee and Starbucks,” he says. “I designed my showroom in Sun Stoppers to be more inviting—nice hardwood floors, furniture and display walls. When I came in as Sun Stoppers, everyone thought I was a national franchise from day one.”

Today, the Sun Stoppers Group has 48 locations and 50-plus employees. Burke’s creation amassed more than $9 million in revenue in 2020. 70% of the group’s work is automotive, with 15% residential and commercial, respectively. Burke’s business reached its full potential when he relinquished absolute control.

“The reason I sold Lightning Mike’s is because I was a control freak,” Burke says. “I was doing everything—the accounting, the payroll, the ordering. I didn’t let my staff do anything because I thought everybody in the world would [mess] it up. I did not delegate any responsibilities.”

Through teamwork, Burke has found more than fiscal success.

“My biggest accomplishment is [helping] people that are broken,” Burke says. “[Some were] delivering pizzas, working as a lot attendant—and through my assistance, help and coaching, have bought a house, a car and make $100,000 a year tinting windows under the brand. I took a kid that was making $15 an hour and now makes $100,000 a year. I’ve done that about a dozen times—taking someone from nothing and turning them into something.”