Education, Live and in Person

Putting a Bow on the 21st Annual International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™

By Chris Collier

The 21st Annual International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) is in the books. San Antonio’s Henry B. González Convention Center played host to insightful seminars, competitions, product demonstrations, the event’s first-ever Career Day, an Industry Hall of Fame induction and more.

Seminars—Day One

Nick St. Denis, the director of research for Key Media & Research, a leading provider of window film and paint protection film (PPF) information, kicked off the day with a market update.

During Attracting the Next Generation of Installers: How to Train an Apprentice, Kyle Fuller, the owner of Tint Pro in Bonaire, Ga., and Matthew Yelle, the owner of Palmetto Protection Films in Myrtle Beach, S.C., discussed the best ways to hire, train and keep an apprentice.

Fuller talked about the difficulties his company has had retaining employees. He recounted a time when a newer employee stopped showing up just months after starting. The loss was hard, Fuller said, because of all the time spent training the employee only to be burned in the end.

Yelle said he looks for employees who are respectful. That’s because his business works in multi-million dollar homes that need to be respected. Skills can be taught but respect cannot, per Fuller.

“Attitude over skill,” he said.

PPFMag publisher Debra Levy kicked off the Opening and Hall of Fame Induction, where Maxpro Window Films president/CEO Joe Cobbe was inducted into the Window Film Hall of Fame.

Cobbe founded Commonwealth Film in 1985 and Commonwealth Laminating and Coating in the early 1990s. Eastman completed the acquisition of Commonwealth Laminating and Coating, manufacturer of SunTek Films, in 2013.

“It’s a surprise and an honor,” Cobbe said. “There are a lot of folks that have been in this business a lot longer than I have and are probably more deserving. I am flattered for it to happen; it’s a great industry with a lot of great people.”

Breaking Out and Breaking Into New Markets saw Nick Blek, the owner of Premier Armor in Corona, Calif., Brian Brown, principal at Exclusive Detail in Charlotte, N.C., and Jay Ka, owner of Modern Elix in West Chester, Pa., tackle the rise of PPF and ceramic coatings.

“How much patience do you have and how much money do you have to burn? PPF is not cheap,” Brown said.

Despite the difficulty with breaking into the business, PPF is worth the investment, Ka said.

“It has transformed our business and it has provided us resources to grow and move us forward,” Ka said.

However, if your goal is just to make money, then you are in for a long ride. PPF is a hard business, Ka said. The people who want this film are inclined to be perfectionists. They’re going to come and find some reason not to pay you for your job.

“It’s a lucrative business though,” Blek said. “Keep that in mind as a reward, a goal. But it’s a hard hustle.”

Ask Your Suppliers Anything saw the following C-Suite executives hit the stage for a Q/A session: Adam Cote, vice president of Ceramic Pro’s Elite Dealer Program; David Kratz, chief operating officer at Huper Optik USA; Jeffrey Plummer, senior vice president and general manager, window film for Madico; Harry Rahman, director of architectural films for XPEL Inc.; Darrell Reed, commercial director, Eastman Performance Films; and Mariana Rodriguez, the vice president and GM of Avery Dennison Graphics North America.

“The planning for potential disruptions has become an essential aspect of manufacturing companies,” Rodriguez said. “… It’s something that is central and critical for us.”

Seminars—Day Two

Learning continued on the International Window Film Association (IWFA)’s Education Day, with seminar speakers focused on hot industry topics pertinent to PPF professionals.

Darrell Smith, executive director of the IWFA, then took the stage for an update. What has the IWFA done to improve its services to the industry in the past year? What can the industry expect in the near future? Smith tackled all of that and more.

Bill Valway, CEO of AP Corp. in Baltimore, began his seminar titled Adding Services to Your Business for the Longer Term by energizing attendees with some imaginary jumproping. The exercise displayed the importance of adjusting one’s state of mind in the battle between positive and negative thinking to allow for capitalization on new ideas.

Valway opened his presentation by discussing the importance of creating a vivid vision.

“Allow yourself, give yourself permission, to dream,” he said. “Every single person in this room has dreams. Allowing yourself to take dedicated, scheduled time to engage in that is a completely different process. Most entrepreneurs, most business leaders, have experiences where you had a vision and it started to pull you forward. This vivid vision process is a little bit more in-depth in that you’re going to detail out what the next three, five, 10 years look like.”

During Recruitment and Retention of Employees, Jonathon Thompson, managing partner at Sunsational Systems in Austin, Texas, touched on the fact that the window film industry has faced headwinds when it comes to hiring and retaining employees.

“What we are seeing is a population decline potential,” said Thompson. “We need to get ahead and figure out how to remedy this.”

Mike Rowe Takes the Stage

Autobahn Window Films sponsored the year’s keynote address, which was delivered by Emmy-winning host, best-selling author, executive producer and trades advocate Mike Rowe. Rowe is one of the nation’s most respected leaders of championing vocations through series such as Dirty Jobs, and Somebody’s Gotta Do It. He has held countless interviews speaking about the skills gap and the importance of trades.

Rowe spoke to a standing-room-only crowd to discuss work that makes the lives of people possible.

“I want to tell you about the moment in my life when I realized everything about work was wrong,” said Rowe.

The story starts when Rowe’s mother called him to tell him that his grandfather was soon turning 90 years old and wanted to see Rowe do something that actually “resembled work.”

Enlightened, Rowe went to his boss at his news station in San Francisco and pitched a segment to capture the lives of everyday people and the types of work that they do. Rowe went out and attempted to cover industries not typically known to the common person, like crawling through the sewer systems of San Francisco.

“It takes a minute for your eyes to adjust, but your nose doesn’t take time to adjust at all,” recalls Rowe of his time in the sewers. “The stench gets on your teeth. You’re just stunned … You just stand there festooned in this filth.”

To Rowe, this looked like a place of work. A place that his grandfather would recognize. “My grandfather was going to love this,” Rowe said. “And my grandmother would be so proud.”

The Top Dealers Lunch

All Top Dealers were honored during an afternoon lunch on day two of WFCT. The gathering also saw the audience applaud Maxpro Window Films president Joe Cobbe, the industry’s newest Window Film Hall of Fame inductee (see page 54 of Window Film magazine Sept/Oct 2022 for more). Hall of Famers Ed Golda and Trent Courage were also in attendance and recognized during the lunch.

Career Day

Day three saw the event’s first-ever Career Day in action. There’s no better industry than the automotive industry, Liz Lasa, owner of Window Tinting Queen, told a crowd of 150 high school and vo-tech students.

“It’s a fantastic business to get into,” Lasa said. “There’s money to be made.”

However, it has been difficult to find installers, Lasa added. That’s because most people assume that a four-year degree is the only path to financial success. That’s far from the truth.

“I love building relationships with my customers,” said Roberta Rodriquez, owner of Modesto Window Tint in Modesto, Calif. “Thank them for coming. Make sure that you stay connected with them. Always make them feel welcome in your shop.”

Seminars—Day Three

Day three’s session slate included Cybercrime: How to Stay Safe Against Ransomware Shutdowns and Other Threats, during which 20-year FBI veteran and security expert Jeff Lanza used real-life examples of the latest hacks, security breaches and computer scams to demonstrate how cybercrime occurs and what countermeasures can combat the innovations of criminals.

A San Antonio Showcase

The show floor at the Henry B. González Convention Center was home to dozens of industry suppliers providing solutions for PPF installers.

Eastman, Autobahn Window Films and Avery Dennison

Eastman displayed its Core Cutting Software that offers a comprehensive library of thousands of professionally-designed PPF patterns. Easy-to-use pattern customization features, including Plus One-Click Badge and Sensor Removal, can help save users time and boost productivity. Core is backed by expert support and video tutorials.

Eastman also demonstrated its LLumar Valor PPF and SunTek Reaction PPF. LLumar Valor combines the features of paint protection film, the sought-after advantages of ceramic coating and Eastman’s powerful Tetrashield protective resin system technology to produce a durable film. Re-designed for improved stretch and tack while maintaining easy repositioning for the smoothest installation yet, Valor aims to elevate the standard in paint protection, according to the company.

Company officials say SunTek Reaction PPF merges all the qualities of self-healing paint protection film with highly desired benefits of ceramic coating. Also utilizing the proprietary Eastman Tetrashield protective resin system technology, Reaction delivers the next level of PPF performance in the SunTek line. Increased stretch, improved adhesion and ease-of-repositioning help assure more efficient installations.

Autobahn Window Films sponsored the event’s Keynote and provided a Lounge for competitors to use for relaxation prior to and following their competition heats. On the show floor, the company displayed its PPF products.

“Now we have a matte, a smoke and a gloss black,” said Justin Mercier of Autobahn Window Films. “Attendees are able to get hands-on and see what the products actually look like.”

Avery Dennison was on the floor in San Antonio showcasing its PPF products.

“On the PPF side, we have our Supreme Defense Matte film, our Supreme Defense Gloss and our Neo Noir, which is a gloss black PPF,” said David Korvah of Avery Dennison.

XPEL and TRÜ Spray Systems

XPEL, a specialist in PPF, window films and coatings, had no shortage of products on display at the show. Displayed products included chemical line ups, ceramic coatings and numerous versions of PPF and window films.

“The common question people always wonder is how difficult is paint protection film, because that’s an art; it’s not 1+1=2,” said Chris Hardy of XPEL. “You have to have a really artistic mentality in order to make that film look the way it needs to for a customer to accept it.”

Attendees also wondered if the company has developed any new technologies, such as coated films, to which the answer is yes.

“This is something we developed this year where ceramic coating is embedded into the film rather than putting a ceramic coating on top as a separate object,” Hardy said. “The benefit there is it reduces the install time.”

TRÜ Spray Systems offers an electric airless spray system that keeps spraying pressure at 90 psi all day. Users can even change or adjust the water solution dilution without carrying an air compressor. You can even run the tank from full to empty with the lid off.

“You can use your keg and you can attach this system to that. There are no more air compressors. There’s no more loss of pressure. It’s an on-demand, ready-to-go system out of the box. The system can be used for PPF, graphics, tint and detailing,” said Bruce Slavich, president.

Champion’s League

Meet the Paint Protection Film Competition winners of the 21st annual WFCT.

Gold: Kyle Murdock
Oz Braz, Gilbert, Ariz.
“I always think the first part—that full fender—is the hardest for me,” Murdock said. “Once I get to the bumper, I’m good. It’s something with the first easy part that’s the hardest for me.”

Silver: Sergey Yakobchak
New Layer Customs, Troy, Mich.
“It was my first time competing at WFCT, and I am very surprised at how much this competition is focused on quality rather than speed,” Yakobchak said. “I truly prefer it this way. Honestly, I didn’t expect to even get into the finals, let alone get a Silver Medal. I am very proud of second place, especially considering I was competing against well-known guys, previous winners and guys who compete regularly.”

Bronze: Craig Bledsoe
Elite Clear Bra, Huntington Beach, Calif.
“What it means to me to participate in the competition and to place third is a pretty humbling experience to see the talent that’s out there and to be privileged enough to be able to place in the top three,” Bledsoe said. “However, I would’ve preferred to have gotten first place, so hopefully next year I’ll be able to do a little bit better and get first place. It’s pretty cool to see how much the industry grown over the past 20 years that I’ve been involved in this business.”

Chris Collier is the editor for PPFMag. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

The Sin City Spotlight

Las Vegas is ready for the 2022 SEMA Show and its paint protection film (PPF) industry exhibitors. The show runs from November 1-4 at the Las Vegas Convention Center this fall. Are you ready?

Car Enthusiasm

By Avery Dennison— Booth #52119

A love of cars can border on obsession and this year at SEMA booth #52119, Avery Dennison celebrates this passion with a showcase of its full breadth of films and solutions, such as automotive window films, wrapping films and paint protection films. Its lineup will be available and on display. Company experts will answer questions and help determine the best products and installation techniques for your auto restyling business.

Connecting with Core

By Eastman—Booth #52051

Eastman Performance Films will showcase LLumar Valor PPF and SunTek Reaction PPF. LLumar Valor combines the features of paint protection film, the sought-after advantages of ceramic coating and Eastman’s powerful Tetrashield protective resin system technology to produce a durable film. Re-designed for improved stretch and tack while maintaining easy repositioning for the smoothest installation yet, Valor aims to elevate the standard in paint protection, according to the company.

This trail-blazing PPF newcomer, SunTek Reaction PPF, merges all the qualities of self-healing paint protection film with highly desired benefits of ceramic coating. Also utilizing the proprietary Eastman Tetrashield protective resin system technology, Reaction delivers the next level of PPF performance in the SunTek line.

Protekt the Investment

By Madico—Booth #50083

Madico’s Protekt paint protection film (PPF) keeps cars looking new for longer with a top coat protecting against common road debris such as gravel, tar, and bug residue. The product is optically clear and virtually self-healing, ensuring minor scratches and abrasions in the film disappear over time. The Madico Advanced Cutting System (MACS) is an ideal pairing that helps dealers cut precise PPF patterns, according to the company.

Protection—to the Max

By Maxpro Window Films—Booth #52207

“Maxpro is excited to exhibit at SEMA this year, showcasing our Max Armor automotive paint protection film. Max Armor shields your vehicle for years of long-lasting investment protection and includes our industry-leading 10-year limited warranty,” says Elizabeth Dillon, executive vice president of sales and marketing “We encourage SEMA participants to stop by our booth as we demonstrate how Maxpro Max Armor paint protection film is unrivaled for longevity, durability and toughness.”

Printing Prowess

By Mutoh America Inc.—Booth #50091

Mutoh brings excitement to SEMA this year with multiple demos each day. Stars of the wrap industry, Wrapsesh and Surf City, will showcase their wrap skills using a custom car wrap created by Glarb Designs, and printed on Mutoh’s own Xpert-Jet 1641SR Pro. This printer delivers optimal print quality and outstanding speeds at an affordable price. The company aims to expand users’ sales and profits with wide format eco solvent printers and cutters. Create exterior signage, customized vehicle wraps, window decals, wall wraps and more.

Quality Control

By Johnson Window Films—Booth #50051

Johnson Window Films is excited to provide an inside look at how its film is manufactured and made. Stop by its booth to see a small sampling of the quality checks they put their film through every day and how they lead to premium quality products. Every batch of its window films and paint protection products go through quality checks across three departments.

STEK Launches Dynochrome

By STEK—Booth #52193

After years of development, STEK will launch chrome PPF product line Dynochrome during the 2022 SEMA Show. Dynochrome captures the unmistakable looks of the chrome hardware and provides ideal protection, according to STEK. The booth will display a vehicle wrapped in Dynochrome. Dynochrome will be available in black and blue (both in gloss and matte options.)

Welcome to the Pros

By Profilm—Booth #12353

Profilm is a window film and PPF manufacturer with headquarters, research and development and manufacturing facilities located in Shanghai. Profilm’s ProColor PPF range brings solid colors and subtle sparkles to its Ultra Clear Gloss products. The company says the Black Shine will transform roofs or wing mirrors. Use the sparkle products to get all the protection, while individualizing the vehicle.

Worldwide Reach

By Global Hi-Tech Films— Booth #50141

Global Hi-Tech Films introduces its PPF, constructed with a pro-quality six mil thermoplastic polyurethane film that includes a self-healing hydrophobic topcoat designed to protect paint finishes from scratches, scuffs and stains. The pressure-sensitive mounting adhesive is installer-friendly and the silicon liner is easy to remove, according to the company. Global PPF is produced in Global’s ISO-9001:2015 certified manufacturing facility with quality control making it easy to sell and install.

Scotchgard Spotlight

By 3M—Booth #50059

3M Commercial Solutions will highlight its launch of Scotchgard Paint Protection Film (PPF) Pro Series 200 Gloss at the 2022 show. This new film is designed to protect automotive paint and other vulnerable vehicle surfaces from stone chips, scratches and more. In addition, the new 72-inch width film will simplify the installation process by creating seamless coverage for the vehicle. Scotchgard PPF Pro Series 200’s new offerings will provide installers with a more flexible product and easy installation experience, per the company.

What Happens in Vegas …

PPF Mag has compiled all industry-related companies attending SEMA to ensure you discover the latest products and information to advance your business.

3M—Booth #50059
Adenna LLC—Booth #35125
Avery Dennison—Booth #52119
Ceramic Pro—Booth #52131
Conco America—Booth #12541
Eagle Enterprises—Booth #52108
Eastman—Booth #52051
Filink—Booth #52083
Flexishield/Luxo Window Films— Booth #51119
Fusion Tools—Booth #52097
Global Hi-Tech Films—Booth #50141
Goff’s Enterprises Inc.—Booth #35042
HEXIS—Booth # 50151
Ivios—Booth # 12139
Johnson Window Films—Booth #50051
Kpmf And Orafol—Booth # 50165
Legend Paint Protection Film— Booth #54263
Madico—Booth #50083
Maxpro Window Films—Booth #52207
Mutoh America Inc.—Booth #50091
PPF Mag—Booth #51103
Pressure on Demand—Booth #51097
Profilm—Booth #12353
Protec Window Film—Booth #52104
Scorpion Protective Coatings Inc.— Booth #55161
Sharpline Converting Inc.—Booth #51135
Shopmonkey—Booth #11861
Solar Gard—Booth #52163
STEK—Booth #52193
UltraFit—Booth #51271
UPPF by Joyvie New Materials Co. ltd.— Booth #12365
Window Film magazine—Booth #51103
Wintech Window Films—Booth #53095
XPEL—Booth #51063

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

Fall 2022


2022 Buyers Guide

Everything you need to apply PPF, ceramic coatings, and more, is included here. Find contact information for all the various suppliers, as well as the different categories of products they offer.

Education, Live and in Person

The 21st Annual International Window Film Conference and 26 Tint-Off™ (WFCT) is in the books. San Antonio’s Henry B. González Convention Center played host to insightful seminars, competitions, product demonstrations, the event’s first-ever Career Day, an industry Hall of Fame induction and more.

The Sin City Spotlight

Las Vegas is ready for the 2022 SEMA Show and its paint protection film (PPF) industry exhibitors. The show runs from November 1-4 at the Las Vegas Convention Center this fall. Are you ready?

Columns & Departments

Observe & Project

Bottom Line

Wrap On

PPF Pulse

Ask a Pro

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

Ask a Pro Summer 2022

Rx for PPF

By Mike Burk

When dialing in your paint protection film (PPF) processes, it’s helpful to think of yourself as a surgeon and your shop as an operating room (OR). Every person in that room has a job, and each is important. For surgery to run smoothly and error-free, every tool is prepped and laid out in its spot, and every person in the room knows their responsibilities and is ready to support the team.

1 Don’t ask a doctor to do a nurse’s work.

A surgeon has a team of nurses, an anesthesiologist, etc., standing by. The crew preps the patient before they arrive, arranges the tools in the OR and assists them at every step. In a busy PPF shop, it’s a waste of a master installer’s time to wash and prep cars or plot patterns. Hiring entry-level workers to do prep work can maximize your output by allowing you to focus on your specialty.

2 Optimize your environment.

Does a surgeon work in a dirty operating room? Does he or she perform brain surgery in bad lighting? Why would you work in a dim shop with dust and dirt waiting to contaminate your material? Invest in good lighting and make cleaning the shop regularly a priority. When you start a job, have your patterns weeded and your tools and solutions ready to go so that all you have to worry about is being laser-focused on the task at hand.

3 Stay calm.

When encountering difficult situations, you must stay calm to focus and envision the solution. Which direction to stretch? Where to put a relief cut? Do you bulk it or use a pattern? Can you imagine a surgeon throwing scalpels across the room when something unexpected happens? Throwing bottles across the shop never got the job done either.

4 Visualize the approach.

Do you start with the bumper? The hood? The fender? Do you need an extra set of hands for some pieces, or can you do the entire thing yourself? Gel, soap solution, or a water/alcohol mix? Different mixes work better for different pieces. Be intentional.

5 Never stop training.

Doctors constantly study and learn the latest techniques and advances in their field, and you should too. Some of the best in the industry give away invaluable knowledge for free on Instagram and YouTube. Follow them and absorb all you can. Remember, though, watching someone else’s technique doesn’t mean you’ve mastered it. Practice, practice, practice. Every car is an opportunity to improve.

6 Walk before you run.

Don’t take on cars you can’t do. Start with a Tesla and give yourself plenty of time. Eventually, you’ll be an expert, but attempting that McLaren 720 bumper before mastering a Porsche or Lexus is a recipe for disaster.

7 Consistency is critical.

Every car has its quirks, and you constantly will add new tricks and techniques to deal with difficult situations. But doing things the same way over and over creates a master. From your staging area to your spray bottles to the order you install, find what works for you and repeat it.

8 Don’t burn out.

Stretch, do yoga and take vacations. Investing in your mental and physical health will allow you to be a better installer.

Mike Burke has been in the window film industry for 33 years. His company, Sun Stoppers, has more than 63 locations in 19 states and offers residential and commercial tint and decorative film services as well as automotive tint, paint protection, and ceramic coatings. If you have a question for Burke to tackle in a future column, email him at

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

In the Film Business Summer 2022

Losing That Loving Feeling

By Mel Villalon

As I started my journey to become proficient at selling and installing paint protection film (PPF), a love/hate relationship began. I think back to my initial introduction to what was referred to as “clear bra.” It walked through my door in the form of an excited engineer with a 12-inch roll in hand. He wasn’t even in the automotive industry. He said he was picking up some detailing supplies and the guy at the store said, “Check this 3M stuff out.”

Film Flashback

This distributor also sold pinstriping tape, body trim and mouldings. They were instructed to show it around and gauge public interest. The year was 1995, and plastic bug shields and vent visors were hot. The days of the black vinyl nose bras and rear window louvers had come and gone like Top Gun in the ‘80s. The clear bra thing was something to get excited about, especially at $60 for a one-hundred foot roll. The funny thing is that it remains difficult to sell today. It’s not for everybody.

Today I still see people who want to get into doing PPF because they believe no one in their proximity can do it. The market is theirs for the taking. Then reality hits.

You have to burn to learn. Many have installed poorly or taken on work that they could not finish, spending sleepless nights thinking about the jobs coming in and stressing over what will or will not go away after the PPF dries up. You’re so beat up— you’re thinking about never doing this again.

Like any relationship you care about, it will have ups and downs. But PPF is a self-esteem killer if you let it get to you.

You would think that tinters and vinyl wrappers would have no problem getting into the PPF business. Many seasoned veterans that masterfully wield a squeegee in their profession are quickly humbled, chewed up and defeated. Heck, PPF masters still have those days. But it’s the sweet pay-day that brings back that loving feeling.

It’s what keeps us in the film business.

Taking Flight

As you read this current issue, Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone, along with the end of the 34-year wait for a Top Gun sequel.

Top Gun is an 80s pop culture classic that gave us movie quotes I believe will hit home to both PPF installers and their customers. There’s a mixed bag of emotions as we prepare to tackle that complex surface. Fear, anxiety and uncertainty, along with hope, bravado and confidence, are what many of us experience at various stages in our careers.

During these times, I want to leave you with some advice along with my favorite Top Gun movie quotes to help pull you through those tough times. I know they have gone through my head many times as well.

6. “Your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.”
5. “I am dangerous.”
4. “Talk to me Goose.”
3. “You can be my wingman any time.”
2. “There’s no points for second place.”
1. “I feel the need for speed.”

PPF at Your Pace

I want you to be at peace with it all because this is what we do. If it were easy, nobody would pay you the big bucks for the job.

Avoid trying to knock out stuff based on how fast others say they do it. Negate other people’s time expectations. The time is now for you to dictate how long you need to do the job. Because as time is ticking towards the end, the stress will cause mistakes, poor performance and imperfect delivery. Speed will come with time. Focus on mastering what’s difficult. It’s all difficult in the beginning.

You’ll slowly realize that you can no longer relate to what others deem to be difficult. You are now a master at PPF.

Mel Villalon is the general manager of Paradise Tinting in Long Beach, Calif.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.