#WFMstagram: See What the Industry is Posting Online

What’s trending in the film industry? Here are some of the top posts on Instagram from the past week. Don’t forget to follow WFM on Instagram, and tag @WindowFilmMag on your latest installations; we look forward to seeing your awesome pics! #WindowFilmWednesday

Sainz Designs shows off one of its latest tint installations, complete with a hydrophobic windshield glass coating.

Deco Tint installing PPF on this Nissan 370Z.

A post shared by Brodie Mathews (@deco_tinting) on

WBC Graphics completed this wrap for Darth Shader Window Tinting’s ’67 Falcon Wagon.

A post shared by Sharon (@darthshader_tinting) on

XPEL Acquires Dallas-Based Film Dealer

XPEL has announced its acquisition of Stratashield LLC of Dallas, Texas, a provider of installation services for window and automotive paint protection film (PPF).

“We’re excited to welcome Houston Orona [editor’s note: Orano is the owner of Stratashield] and the Stratashield team to the XPEL family. Houston has a great business and enjoys a strong reputation in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex for providing outstanding service,” said Ryan Pape, president and CEO of XPEL. “This acquisition gives us a local presence in this growing market and is indicative of our continuing execution of our ‘Get Close to the Customer’ strategy. We look forward to combining our existing … automotive paint protection products with the customer-centric focus that Stratashield is known for, to deliver better value for both new and existing customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.”

Pape continued, “Houston will be a great addition to the team, not only as we integrate his business, but as our Manager of the Dallas-Fort Worth market, where he will be incentivized to grow, develop and support our entire network of customers in that area. Texas has long been very important to us, and this acquisition helps to round out our presence in our home state.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

3M and XPEL Settle Lawsuit

After nearly two years of court filings, St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M and San Antonio, Texas-based XPEL have reached a settlement agreement in a patent infringement lawsuit brought forth by 3M on December 30, 2015 in federal district court in Minnesota.

The original suit alleged that XPEL’s XPF paint protection film (PPF) product infringed 3M’s U.S. Patent No. 8,765,263 (`263), which is “a multilayer protective film comprising a first layer, a second layer and a pressure-sensitive adhesive layer.” XPEL denied the allegations.

The companies have now agreed to a settlement, under which XPEL will acquire a license to the ‘263 patent. The court document simply states:

“It is hereby stipulated and agreed by and between the parties through their respective attorneys that:

  1. Plaintiffs 3M Company and 3M Innovative Properties Company (‘3M’) dismiss without prejudice their causes of action against XPEL Technologies Corporation (‘XPEL’).
  2. XPEL dismisses without prejudice its causes of action against 3M.
  3. Each party shall bear its own attorneys’ fees and costs.”

During XPEL’s recent fourth quarter 2016 earnings call with investors, Ryan Pape, CEO, touched on the settlement, stating, “The agreement’s confidential, and we don’t expect a material impact to the business as a result, and that’s really about all I can say.” He added, “There’s no reason to drag it out and talk about it. It’s done, we’re moving on, and there’s plenty of work for us to do on our own operations and with our customers to better serve them.”

Why PPF?

Before I get into my first post, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Chris DiMinico, one of WindowFilmMag.com’s newest bloggers and president of AutoNuvo in Holliston, Mass. You’ll see my posts, which will mostly be about paint protection films (PPF), once a month. I’ve been in the adhesive tape/film business in one capacity or another for more than 20 years. I’ve seen the PPF business grow from its virtual inception, having held assorted positions from product manager/product development to executive with OEM manufactures, PPF distributors and installation companies. It’s been an interesting journey from what PPF was 20 years ago to its current market which has numerous OEM manufactures, types of films and pattern choices.

AutoNuvo, a division of Protective Solutions, has been installing PPF as a company for more than 18 years, and we preach the importance of your vehicles’ appearance. A vehicle is one of the largest investments the average person makes in his or her lifetime; why not protect it?

What is PPF?
PPF is an ultra-durable, non-yellowing thermoplastic film coated with an ultraviolet (UV) stable pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) that is virtually invisible when applied. It’s designed to protect a vehicle’s painted surface from everyday road-rash and debris, as well as staining and micro-marring, while preserving the original appearance of a vehicle’s paint. The material was originally used by the U.S. Military to protect carbon fiber helicopter blades from debris that is stirred up during the landing process.

How Does PPF Fit a Vehicle?
The film is applied directly to a vehicle’s clear coat; this is a wet application typically using a slip solution (soap/water) and a tack solution (IPA/water solution). The PSA bond to the clear coat will be achieved as the installer squeegees out the tack solution. It typically takes 24 to 48 hours for the PSA to fully cure and achieve its full bond.

To Plot or Not?
Today, there are numerous companies offering pattern software for PPF installers to “pre-cut” a specific vehicle pattern. This is done by the pattern/cutting company mapping the actual vehicle and then creating a 2-D pattern in its software. An installer can then plot out a “kit” on the film, creating the kit for the exact model he’s installing with PPF with the use of a plotter.

Depending on the pattern/cutting software, the installer will have the ability to make adjustments to the pattern. As for customizing the kit, installers will cut to suit their own techniques and personal preferences. There are many that will hand-cut the entire kit on a vehicle or use some hybrid of both methods to achieve the most coverage and cleanest install. After all, it’s about achieving what will make the customer most satisfied.

Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog and If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out at chris@autonuvo.com.

Stop Dabbling in PPF

I recently got into indoor rock climbing. It’s a unique and tough sport that challenges you mentally and physically to overcome obstacles and fear. Now that I’ve been a few times, I’m getting better and more confident in what I can do. I don’t let certain limitations stop me from taking more difficult paths—and you shouldn’t either when it comes to your business and adding paint protection film (PPF) as a profit center.

Too often I hear installers complain they have a hard time selling the product or they only do a few kits here and there. Frankly, most of the time they’re just dipping their toes into their PPF segment instead of making the true investment it needs.

That’s the wrong approach. You’re either in it or you’re not. In many instances, there’s room for gray areas but frankly, I feel this is a black and white situation. I might be an outlier, but this point is to provoke the way you look at your own business and the industries in which you operate. There’s something to be said of the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” In layman’s terms, you do a lot of things, but you’re not really masterful at any of them. When it comes to business, that’s not good. You hear businesses like restaurants trying to offer too many things and therefore sacrifice quality. Dipping your toes into too many things causes a loss in quality and overall, a loss of opportunity.

When it comes to PPF, many aftermarket installers want to add it to their revenue stream but don’t put in the investment needed to make it a realistic profit center. Most places start with subbing the work out which starts out pretty well for all parties. But eventually the business owner wants to offer the service themselves rather than sub it out.

That’s the right step, but do it right. If you don’t go all in, you not only will waste your money, but customers will suffer—and so will your reputation. When I climb, I try to reach for that difficult piece to step on or grab with my hand, or else I’ll just be stuck in the middle of a wall with nowhere to go. I might fall, but I can always get back up, try it again and learn from my mistake. It might take a little longer than I want, but if I’m all in, my chances of success are greater than if I only go a portion of the way.

It’s the same way with PPF. If you add a dedicated clear bra business, you better be all in. That means you buy a plotter, get some software, buy some rolled stock and actually sell the product proactively. You can even take a training course to speed up your learning curve to the industry. Business isn’t just going to come to you. Not enough consumers know about it. With promotion and education, the consumer will understand the value and be sold on it just like window tint or remote starters. This product requires a proactive approach, not a reactive business strategy.

As always, exceed expectations every day!