Texas Business Share Details of Last Week’s Snowstorm

“We are going to put up a backup generator for power, because that is what really hampered us more than anything,” said John Yard, national sales vice president for Huper Optik USA (Huper Optik), with its corporate campus located in Harris County, as he recalled last week’s snowstorm. Huper Optik is moving into a new building it purchased as well.

Huper Optik lost power for three days, a main reason why Yard said that having a generator would “eliminate a lot of the issues the company faced this time.”

“The initial thought for everyone started out as ‘it doesn’t snow in South Texas, how cool would it be to get a little bit’? Then it went to these temps are going to be brutal. When we woke up and saw what we got was when it started moving more to survival mode and realizing this is going to be a bad week,” said Dave Duensing, Texan Glass & Solar Control president, located in The Woodlands, Texas.

Overall Safety

Jonathan Thompson managing partner of SunSational Solutions, located in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, said all of his employees are okay and that the business was shut down for a week, as a result of the snowstorm.

Yard said that everyone “kind of got through” the snowstorm and there were several employees who had broken pipes in their homes. Many also lost power for several days and have started getting things back together and coming back into work.

“Of course we walked into a broken pipe Monday at the office and this is one of those once-in-a lifetime events,” said Yard. “And in times like this you find out funny little things, like the fourth largest city in the U.S., Houston, Texas only has two sand trucks so it’s not like we were prepared for ice and snow.”

Being Prepared

Although you can’t plan for Mother Nature’s strike there are things businesses can do to prepare, like having constant communication with employees and customers. SunSational Solutions and Huper Optik have experience in communication during a disaster.

“One thing that was neat about COVID is that because we rely so much on communicating without everyone in the office, our business is very functional without everyone being in the brick and mortar location,” explained Thompson. “We were able to use those tools to stay in communication at that time. I think the lessons we learned in 2020 from COVID can be applied to situations like this pretty easily and companies can get through it.”

Texan Glass & Solar Control

Duensing said that the business went through Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and had about four feet of water that ruined everything inside of the business. Last week had a similar slight catastrophic feel to it for him.

“Being raised in Nebraska, I understand ice and snow. The initial precaution we did over the weekend of the 13th-14th was to ground all company trucks and employees from coming into the locations,” Duensing explained. “We really had no idea if we would wake up to nothing, or ice or snow. In Texas a big problem is overpasses and bridges getting iced over and there is no means of salting or getting them cleared so it will shut the towns down. As things did melt a little and more severe cold hit, they ended up icing over worse so we were shut down Monday through Wednesday.”

He said the business had a partial crew working on Thursday and as the week continued things began to get closer to “normal.”

“We actually began putting systems in place four or five years ago that would allow for employees to work remotely,” explains Yard. “The makeup of our (Houston) office went from about 15 who worked inside of it to now about six to eight and the rest are spread throughout the country. We also have a phone system that allows us to work like we’re all in one building.”

He added that COVID has taught window film businesses that meeting face to face isn’t always necessary anymore, as technology allows communication across various platforms. The company’s communication and remote systems have paid off several times, according to Yard, as well as being able to pull materials from other warehouse locations.

“Our Houston, Texas location really died for a couple of reasons–number one there were three to four days where UPS not only wouldn’t pick up but they weren’t moving things out of the city,” said Yard.

To combat this issue he said the company was able to utilize other warehouses when transportation in Houston stopped.

PPF Editorial Director Delivers First Novel

PPFMag editorial director Tara Taffera doesn’t just write about window film and paint protection film. Taffera recently completed her first novel, Love Ordained, which has been published by Winged Publications. The book is available in print and on Kindle at Amazon.com.

Completed in March 2020, the Christian Romance was an off and on focus for Taffera, who says it “was 20 years in the making.” After stepping away from her efforts, she resumed the project for a brief period in 2019. Then, while on a trip in February 2020, a close friend inquired about the project, asking, “Why haven’t you finished your book?” Taffera says. “It was something my husband had also been asking me, and I wondered myself,” she adds. A month later, her first novel was done. “Once I set my mind to something, I put a plan of action together and I do it,” she says.

The story began as a simple romance novel, but as a lifelong Christian, “I knew God wanted more for me,” Taffera says. “The next time I sat down to work on the novel, I said this is going to be a Christian romance and I never looked back.”

The story follows the tragic events surrounding the life of a young widow, Gina Andros, who lost her husband, Alex, and nearly two-year-old daughter to a car accident. In a series of intriguing developments, Andros’ life takes numerous twists and turns, as she progresses through her grief, regaining her strength. Along the way, her mother-in-law—who she views like a second mother—blames her for the accident, aiming to cut her off from the family. As the novel settles into its final chapters, a new love appears for Gina, but swarming with uncertainty: Is this the relationship God intended?

“Most everyone knows Tara as an excellent business writer and editor,” says  PPFMag publisher Deb Levy, “but it’s been thrilling to us all to see her debut as a fiction author and published novelist. And, I am so personally delighted for her I am bursting with pride.”

As a writer, journalist and editorial director of 23 years, Taffera is quick to clarify that she has no intentions of making a career change. “Not a chance,” she says. “After all of these years, I still love coming to work every day and cherish the people and industries we serve. The series, A Divine Love, will remain my nighttime and weekend focus … I can’t wait for people to experience these stories,” she adds. “It’s my sincere hope that they will not only be entertained, but that it touches their lives in some small way.”

Film Competition Winners Share How They Prepare

The International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off (WFCT) attracts competitors from around the world, and a panelist of previous winners share their tips on how they prepare. All agreed that paying attention to details, training and transforming their shop bays play a role in their success. This year’s event will be held June 7-9 in Orlando.

WFCT Preview Day session

“Six months before the competition I isolate either the driver or the passenger door, which is usually what we work on, and treat the installations like the tint-off,” said Sal Hurtado, co-owner and operator of Sal’s House of Tint, during an online session. “I’ll maybe shave a little bit of time off and treat it where Michelle, my wife and co-owner, will say go and I begin as if I’m competing. I start at zero, time it, then finish and look to see where I’m at just to have a good feel for what it’s going to be like in the competition.”

Hurtado was joined by Les Helton, owner and operator of Performance Window Tinting, and Chris West, owner CCA Motor Sport during a one-hour virtual session moderated by Holly Biller, Key Media & Research media services vice president during WFCT’s Preview Day, held last month.

Hurtado competed in the architectural competition in 2017 and took home the bronze, and he also took home the gold in the automotive competition that same year. In 2019 he won the bronze in the architectural competition. West was the 2018 PPF bronze medalist and the 2019 gold medalist in PPF. Helton won gold medals in the 2006 automotive tint-off, the 2008 automotive tint-off and in 2014 in the architectural competition.

During the event attendees could log on virtually to learn about what it takes to be a winner in the film business for the upcoming live show in being held June 7-9 in Orlando, Fla. Biller asked the panel of competition winners’ questions on everything from preparation to what tools they bring.

Preparation

Similar to Hurtado, Helton finds himself getting mentally prepared a few months prior to competing. “In the shop I’m thinking that I’m in the competition,” said Helton. “Normally if I’m in the shop I’ll use the plotter, but obviously we don’t have that advantage in the competition, so I do a lot of hand cutting and I work off of the car and just mainly treat my bay as the completion floor and focus on doing the installation properly.”

According to West, financial incentives can play a role in how he prepares. “I start to focus on time and have the guys pull out their stopwatches,” said West. “We all are also concerned about checking. I grab a couple of guys in the shop to check what I’ve done, similar to the judges in the competition. Sometimes I even throw a little money at them whereas if they find something wrong they might get $20.”

Biller asked if the environment for each of the panelist’s shops change prior to competing. All said they aim to create a similar overall feeling to help them focus.

“I let some of the younger kids that hang out at the shop on the weekends become the spectators while I work,” explained Helton. “A lot of the younger kids that watch aren’t familiar with the business so they really don’t know what I’m doing and they might even ask questions. I let them watch my every move just like in the competition so I’m nervous for a 16 year-old kid watching what I do every day just as we’re nervous on the competition floor.”

Sign up to watch the session via webinar on March 3 at 12 p.m. EST.

Breaking Down the Government’s Latest Aid Efforts

As businesses continue to struggle from the effects of COVID-19, there is Government funding options available, as the Economic Aid Act was signed into law on December 27th, 2020. It includes an expanded employee retention tax credit, and round 2 of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP).

IMPACT, an organization for Ironworkers, broke down the program for its members, Cares Act 2.0, on a webinar held last week, and the information is applicable to window film businesses as well. Cassandra Langley, from Lescault Walderman Accounting, a firm that focuses specifically on the construction industry, went over some of the opportunities available to businesses.

Langley outlined the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) which is designed to provide relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a loss of revenue due to COVID-19. It provides a low interest, 30-year maturity loan that is not forgivable.

“The company must have substantial economic injury,” said Langley. “This generally means the business must be suffering in order to take this.”

Another option is the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC). “You can go back and retroactively get it for 2020,” she said. “You have to show a 50% drop from 2019 to 2020 or were shut down as non-essential by the Federal Government.” A number of window film companies fall into this category.

The ERTC 2021 only applies to 2021 payroll, and Langley pointed out it has a lot of differences when compared to the 2020 version.

“Now, it is a 20 percent revenue drop in a quarter to quarter comparison,” she said. “You have a little more potential to possibly qualify for this.”

Companies have a possibility of receiving $14,000 per employee, and the limitation has been raised to 500 employees.

When it comes to Round 2 of PPP, Langley said same requirements from Round 1 remain, but additional expenses can be factored in. “This can include things like operational expenses [subscriptions and software)], personal protective equipment and expenses for employee safety, and more,” she said. But there, is an important factor to keep in mind.

“You have to have used your Round 1 lending before you apply for Round 2,” she said.

Additionally, companies must show a 25% reduction in gross revenue, and when applying they can use 2019 or 2020 payroll amounts.

The full webinar may be viewed here.

Window Film Association’s Global Board Expands

The International Window Film Association’s (IWFA) board has expanded to 16 members as the association has elected a leadership team to help guide and further build on the recognition of window films benefits to customers.

“Our board members actively support the IWFA’s mission of educating the public, both consumers and professionals alike, on the many benefits of window film. Their commitment to the overall health and expansion of the industry is commendable,” said Jack Mundy, IWFA president. “We look forward to another successful period of growth and new innovations.”

The following individuals on the IWFA’s board of directors represent manufacturers, distributors and dealer / installers: Jim Black, Madico Window Films; Gary Clark, Solar Gard / Saint-Gobain; Daniel Cvelbar, Avery Dennison; Scott Davidson, Johnson Window Films; Andrew DeCastecker, Interwest; Jim Freeman, Tint America (secretary); Peter Elliott, 3M Company; Steve Fricker, Pro-Tint; Yu (Rain) Liu, Sanyou Dissan; Jack Mundy, Dealer Select Inc. (president); John Parker, National Security & Window Filming (treasurer); Jonathan Thompson, Sunsational Solutions (vice president); Sean Torkington, Suzhou Jinlan Nano Technology Co. Ltd; Vic Wang, KDX Window Film; Lisa Winckler, Eastman Chemical; and Jinwei Zhang, Dalian Allied Nanotech.