Industry Veteran Highlights Success with New PPF
By Tara Taffera
Though Legend PPF has been in the U.S. market since October 2019, it could still call qualify as a new addition to the market. Its creator however, polymer chemist Dr. Tim Gerasimov, is an industry veteran who created window film and PPF decades ago for other industry suppliers. The success of the product so far, is perhaps a testament to the power of social media and good-old word of mouth. PPFMag interviewed Gerasimov to learn more about his new company Bluegrass Protective Films, which was formed with engineer Joe Papalia, and additional investors.
Vice president of marketing and sales Kurtis Mishler, describes Gerasimov as an example of someone who embodies a true entrepreneurial spirit, and who has an innate desire to always keep creating.
“I have never met anyone who has an intellectual curiosity like his,” Mishler said.
PPFMag: How long has Legend been on the market? Give us an idea of how many companies are using it?
Gerasimov: We started in April of 2019, and basically started selling internationally first. We have customers in multiple countries in Eastern Europe, China and Southeast Asia. One of the big reasons for that is it’s all the same 60-inch wide boxes, so when you start manufacturing it’s easier for inventory control to make the same thing.
When we started to offer film in the U.S. in October 2019 that was a different market that required a variety of cuts. It’s been going very well … This is a premium product at a competitive price, and the hope is to create a partnership with the customer.
When we started last fall, a lot of potential customers said, “We never heard about you,” but after a few months the word was spreading. All of this is good publicity, and then Ron Harris of the PPF Academy stumbled on the film and tried it out and gave positive reviews.
PPFMag: What makes the film unique from others?
Gerasimov: Well a lot of films are unique. All the suppliers come up with their own formulations as we try to achieve maximum user friendliness if you will. The big thing is how easy our film is to install, while also achieving that great combination of factors such as longevity, a hydrophobic coating, and the fact that it offers high impact resistance.
Mishler: I get feedback all the time, and this is the very question I love to ask all our customers. They say that if there has been an error while they are installing, or some substance has gotten on the car or on the film, they can pull the film up, correct the error and start all over, ultimately saving them money.
PPFMag: What are some of the challenges — areas where your customers want to see improvements?
Gerasimov: We definitely have some ideas about improvement but it’s not something I would want to disclose. When it comes to technical questions I tend to be very quiet.
Mishler: One of the things we will do in 2021 is open a training center, and that is one of the things that will improve the experience. We are laying out the foundation for it now.
PPFMag: What would someone selling against this film say about it? I other words, how do you overcome some of the objections that may be out there?
Mishler: Initially, it’s just people not knowing who we are. Also, we find that people talk. We get questions like: ‘So, are you really made in the U.S?’ Yes we are.
I have also gotten lots of comments from installers like this: ‘I have people from all over the world throwing film at me. What makes you different?’ I then go back into the positive reviews of those who have adopted our film. Yes we are new, but this is not their first rodeo—our staff and owners have a lot of experience.
Gerasimov: There are customers who don’t want to talk to us because they are devoted to such and such a brand. That isn’t an objection—it’s just that they are loyal. But the people who have tried it have no objections. Also, in the U.S. people trust each other more. In China, and some other countries with counterfeit products, it’s a little harder.
Mishler: The best thing we can do is provide them a sample and let them be the judge.
PPFMag: Did COVID-19 change things when it hit here in the U.S. in March?
Gerasimov: Though the growth has been positive, when COVID-19 hit, it certainly wasn’t good news for any supplier. For us a couple of things happened. Just when we started seeing that things may go pretty badly, we took steps to make sure we had all the raw materials and health standards in place and we never shut down. We took some steps to make sure we didn’t have interruptions … We had everything we needed to keep making the product.
But in April there was a lot of fear in the country in general. A lot of installers shut down because they couldn’t justify being essential. Then people started losing jobs, so they aren’t looking at PPF. The product is also related to car sales so April was a scary month. Then in May we saw rejuvenation on that side of the industry and our sales domestically doubled month after month as people got cabin fever and started looking into window film and PPF.
PPFMag: Are you pleased with your growth so far?
Gerasimov: I probably think our growth thus far is better than expected, and overall response to our product has been phenomenal. We have seen growth of about 65 percent from the second to third quarter of this year. We scaled up to make sure we didn’t have interruptions. We hired people, and it was good as a lot of people were searching for jobs.
PPFMag: One last question: Did you ever think you would start a new company and create a new PPF product?
Gerasimov: Years ago, probably not … It was a little scary in the beginning, as I worked for several companies before but never for myself. But a couple partners in our company have experience running businesses independently. Everything you do affects how the company grows and how healthy the company will be. So for me personally it’s been a very interesting experience.
Tara Taffera is the editorial director for PPFMag. Follow her on twitter and connected with her on LinkedIn.
To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.