Brodie Mathews, owner of DeCo Tint, PPF, Wrap and Tint America in Arvada, Colo., studied collision repair technology at Boulder Technical Education Center in Boulder, Colo., as a 15-year-old high schooler in 2004. He returned in January 2022 as an instructor, teaching the art of paint protection film (PPF) and vinyl wrap installations. A year later, his encore featured fashion film lines and a larger class size with increased interest.
“We brought in colors and samples of our leading fashion film companies, showing the evolution of our industry,” Mathews says.
Boulder Technical Education Center’s programs include automotive collision repair, automotive service technology, biomedical science, construction technology, cosmetology, emergency medical response, criminal justice and crime scene investigation (csi), sports medicine, video production and welding.
Mathews’ latest two-week course featured one week of PPF training and one week of vinyl instruction. Eastman Performance Films donated PPF and tools to facilitate the course. Mathews’ company, DeCo Tint, PPF, Wrap, supplied the wrap training film.
“The class grew from 32 last year to 45 this year,” Mathews says. “Many students mentioned this is why they enrolled at the school.”
Veteran window film industry owner Joe Cobbe, president/CEO of Maxpro Window Films, will be the next person inducted into the Window Film Hall of Fame, sponsored by PPFMag.
“It’s a surprise and an honor,” Cobbe says. “There’s 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.”
Cobbe founded Commonwealth Film in 1985 and Commonwealth Laminating and Coating in the early 1990s. The company was acquired by Eastman in 2013.
Drafted into the U.S. Military, Cobbe served from November 1966 to September 1969 and earned the rank of First Lieutenant. He also has been a certified public accountant for more than 50 years. From June 2004 to June 2006, he was the mayor of Martinsville, Va. He helped create Maxpro in 2012.
“Opportunity and hard work—being able to recognize opportunity and putting the work in to accomplish it,” says Cobbe of his varied career paths.
Elizabeth Dillon, Maxpro executive vice president of sales and marketing, shares a connection of more than 20 years with Joe. “Joe has been involved in the window film industry for a long time,” she says. “Most folks have no idea exactly what all he’s done to help start the industry.”
Cobbe will be recognized and inducted into the Window Film Hall of Fame during the 21st Annual International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ (WFCT) on September 14 at the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio.
Click here for the list of Hall of Fame Inductees from past years. Click here for video footage of Lisa Winckler’s induction ceremony last year. To attend this year’s induction ceremony, register here.
Traditional, four-year colleges are primary sources of higher education for many career hunters. But as film industry professionals know, the lecture hall is not the sole pathway to success. Brodie Mathews, owner of DeCo Tint and Tint America in Arvada, Colo., studied collision repair technology at Boulder Technical Education Center in Boulder, CO., as a 15-year-old high schooler in 2004. He’s returning to the facility this month, but not as a student.
“I had no idea what the class was going to be like,” Mathews says. “We didn’t have access to the technology we have now, where we jump online and search a YouTube video or look through photos to get an idea of the career path. [We] left it in the hands of the educator, and they did a great job piquing my interest.”
Mathews looks to do the same for his students during a two-week paint protection film (PPF) and vinyl-wrap installation training course spanning from January 31 to February 11. Forty students will be split into two classes each day.
“We will teach these students the correct methods of preparing a vehicle for PPF,” Mathews says. “Prepping the surfaces, creating the correct slip solutions and tack solutions for installation, locating and running software on a plotter, loading film and the installation itself for pre-cut kits and bulking. We will be keeping it limited to entry-level. It will be hood, fenders and mirrors. We may touch on bumpers so they get experience. We want to have basics for them so they can hopefully gain interest in this industry and have a good foundation to start possible employment or an internship right out of school.”
Daniel Chong, technical services representative for Eastman Performance Films LLC, will be on hand for the training. Eastman will also provide a plotter with software, training film and tool kits for students.
“As consumer interest for PPF grows, so does the demand for professionally trained installers,” says Darrell Reed, commercial director, Eastman. “Building a proficient, skilled installer network is essential for sustained growth in PPF. Eastman is excited to support this program and to help the next generation of installers identify career opportunities in the industry.”
Mathews cites it’s becoming increasingly challenging to discover educated installers and retain them. He says the trades are yet to be promoted and pushed as much as a collegiate education. “I don’t think we’re there yet. I think this is a slow transition that will start, and it’s needed. We need to get more people in our industry to help push this towards the younger minds and building a career,” Mathews says.
The 22-year collision repair and window film industry veteran looks to turn the tide when he steps in front of his students in 12 days.
“It’s exciting to imagine that this course, and hopefully many others like it someday, will generate a growing interest in the PPF industry—producing the next generation of pros to meet a growing demand for qualified, skilled film installation talent,” Mathews concludes.
Matt Phillips, who was the former chief operating officer of Suntek/Commonwealth Laminating before it was sold to Eastman, is emerging from retirement. Phillips is forgoing his love of full-time fossil hunting (keep reading), to serve as CEO of BlueGrass Protective Films and its Legend® Paint Protection Film brand. WINDOW FILM magazine editorial director Tara Taffera talked with Phillips prior to the industry announcement.
PPF: What made you want to give up retirement for this position? Phillips: I worked with Legend’s president Tim Gerasimov when we were both at Commonwealth—I retired in April, 2015. We always had a very good rapport and have remained friends. I kept in touch with him and monitored his progress from afar. Recently Tim asked for my input on several initiatives and, as I got involved, I became more excited about the opportunities and success of the company. It evolved and was formalized from there.
Phillips is impressed with the progression of PPF.
PPF:Why is it important to be part of this organization? Phillips: What I saw was a company that reminded me of the good old days early on in my career. This is a high-growth, entrepreneurial company, and I was intrigued by the business model and its success. It was the right opportunity.
The industry has many strong, big companies, and I think that’s healthy. It lends credibility to the market. But I think there is a need and space for an entrepreneurial company that focuses on customer service and concentrates on getting the installer a good product that can help them succeed. I saw there was a need for that, and I see Legend filling that need.
PPF:Has anything surprised you about developments in the industry while you were gone? Phillips: I have seen the continued growth and customer acceptance of paint protection film. I was in the business when it started to explode, and I continued to be impressed with its growth but, more importantly, how a broader customer awareness has increased. I see a bright future for the market.
PPF: What are you most excited about at Legend? Phillips: I am excited about where I can contribute as I have vast experience managing a company through high growth. Legend is reaching that size and experiencing such growth that issues such as best practices, proper financial accounting, and access to capital will become more critical in the future. That’s where I can help the company. A lot of entrepreneurial companies fail at that stage—they become successful but are unable to manage the growth and its associated problems. Tim and I have a clear vision of where we fit into the market. I have embraced that, and my job is to support that. Tim remains president of the company. I’m here to help with the strategic side and to help the team manage the growth.
We are now at a point where creating infrastructure becomes increasingly important. To arm installers with a competitive advantage so they can be successful. Along with the right product and quick customer service, we believe that’s how we will be successful. Our strategy is to give the customer flexibility. We do not believe in bundling or exclusivity deals or restraining how much and when a customer can purchase from us. It’s a “Field of Dreams” philosophy. If we build it, they will come. If we make it beneficial for the customer to use our products, the revenue will flow. We want to make it easy for the installer to use our film, and that’s how we will build loyalty. That is a central part of Legend, and that excites me.
Phillips collected artifacts during retirement.
PPF: What’s your biggest challenge? Phillips: Managing the growth. Obviously, COVID has created a litany of issues, especially related to the supply chain, that have been very challenging. I feel that how we reacted to it has helped us in the marketplace. It shows we have been able to manage those obstacles.
PPF: What have you been doing since retiring? Phillips: I have been collecting fossils full time, which has long been a hobby of mine. I hunt for fossils all over the world. I have found them in Australia, England, Germany, and America. That’s what I have been doing for the last ten years, and I will continue to pursue it as a hobby. I found that I miss the challenge of business. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I started getting involved with Legend again.
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.
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.