Owners of T&T Tinting Specialists Turning Company Over to Employees

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.

T&T Tinting’s team is ready for the next chapter.

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.

Update: Film Shops Push Forward During COVID

Film shops, like many other companies were impacted by the onset of COVID-19. PPF magazine checked in with a few industry businesses for an update on what changes they’ve made, how customers and installations have been and what they think the future will hold.

“We were shut down for seven weeks from March 23rd to May 11th, said Tommy Silva, CEO and president of T&T Tinting Specialists, Inc., located in Honolulu, Hawaii, then we were allowed to reopen with restrictions in place.”

However the business was forced to close again after it started seeing an uptick.

“Business slowly returned and ramped back up to around 85% of pre-COVID numbers, then we were mandated for a second shutdown from August 27th through September 23rd, Silva explained. “We just reopened on September 24th and are again following all of the CDC’s guidelines to stay open – business is busy from pent-up demand and the hot Hawaiian summer heat… Being forced to close in your busiest season really sucks!”

Big Changes

“We have added more structured protocols to [our] overall operations for cleanliness and peace of mind,” said Ty Sullivan, vice president of SPF Window Tinting located in Hattiesburg, Miss. “Most of those additions are common and simple, structured cleaning of office surfaces, available personal protective equipment (PPE) for our staff, and individual use vehicles for transportation to job sites.”

Silva said he followed his city’s safety recommendations. This included: closing its waiting rooms, closing customer restrooms, locking its showrooms and allowing entry by appointment only with customers being escorted in one at a time.

“[We] also purchased plexiglas and building shields to safely separate our customer service representatives (CSR) from our clients, printed and installed social distancing signs and decals for the entry area and floors to instruct clients on where to stand, purchased gallons of 90% alcohol and filled spray bottles for each employee at each work station to sanitize every high tough surface each time it is touched, bought zip lock bags and we use those for placing car keys in them after being sanitized, installed touchless payment terminals at the front desks,” added Silva. “Then we updated all of our policies and procedures to include all CDC required safety measures for face coverings, social distancing, daily temperature screenings at entry to work, employees to report any cases in their home environment immediately, then take test and quarantine until negative results are in.”

Business Uptick

“We have seen a substantial uptick on the automotive side of the business,” said Sullivan. “At times it has been difficult to manage due to the client basis wanting immediate service, but we have all worked hard and just made the best of what we can.”

Sullivan’s customers have also started adapting to the changes the company has in place. According to Sullivan there have not been any COVID-related complaints due to the implemented safety changes. “We have noticed that the customer base has been a bit more sensitive, but we can offset that with more time and engagement,” he added.

The uptick might be dwindling as fall is a notorious slow season for many window film businesses.

“We are still catching up from our backlog and we are currently about a week out at the moment,” said Chandler Goodman, center manager for Alta Mere, located in Oklahoma City, Okla.

He noted that the vast majority of his customers are ordering and scheduling their window film installations online. The company released the online scheduling option before the onset of COVID-19.

“Business has been good given the circumstances we are in,” said Goodman. “We are seeing our usual decline in the fall, which is why the wait is now a week instead of three. We have hovered around that wait time for about a month now and I believe we will be ‘caught up’ by the start of October.”

Looking Ahead

Silva said he can definitely see some of the changes and new procedures remaining throughout the fall and winter months. “We do not have any choice… if we are caught not following procedures we can be fined and forced to shut down again,” he said.

But Silva isn’t the only one who thinks the changes will last.

“All of the changes that we have made have been simple, and beneficial to the workplace environment,” said Sullivan. “I do not see us changing anything from how we are currently operating in the future.”

Outlook

“We definitely have been fortunate to stay busy during this pandemic, and it seems that it will be business as usual moving forward into the winter months,” said Goodman. “Hopefully we don’t see another [COVID] spike around flu season.”

“We feel overwhelmingly lucky to have a healthy and productive team with work for everyone,” said Sullivan. “In a time of extreme volatility, there is a lot to be thankful for with business being as close to normal as it could be.”

Although many window film businesses fared well during the summer season, others saw it as an obstacle.

“It’s been truly challenging, especially since our Mayor and Governor really don’t know what they are doing and have gone back and forth on so many mandates that it makes our heads spin,” said Silva. “Then there’s the lack of PPP loans and any kind of assistance for businesses to cover our rent and overhead during this second shutdown was really difficult and all of our pleas to the Mayor and Governor have not gotten a response.”

Government Relief Aid Begins to Trickle in to Film Companies

Many industry businesses have filed for one, if not several relief programs spanning from COVID-19’s impact. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is a part of the CARES Act, received the most applications. However, all $349 billion designated to it has been used, and although Congress is expected to approve more there haven’t been any announcements of additional approved funding – so have companies who’ve applied for relief received anything yet? Window Film magazine reached out to several companies to answer just that.

There have been a few who have applied for and have received financial relief from the government. Tommy Silva, CEO and president of T&T Tinting Specialists, Inc. (T&T), applied for PPP for his business and recently received funding. “Yes we received our PPP loan [funding] on April 15, 2020 and [we received] $10,000 [in the form of an] Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loan (EIDL) grant yesterday,” said Silva.

According to Silva, T&T will be closed until at least April 30, 2020. “Our auto side was deemed non-essential, but our flat glass side, which deals with the construction industry, was classified as essential,” Silva said. “We decided to close both divisions as I felt it was the right thing to do to slow the spread of the pandemic and protect our staff and clients.”

But T&T isn’t the only business that noticed financial help arrived, as Justin Beller of Meridian Window Tint, said the businesses is not only still “up and running” but has gotten the “full amount requested” for PPP. “We applied for a small amount and was granted the full amount,” Beller said.

“Our business is still operating. We’ve applied for PPP and $1,000 per employee,” said Paul Koceja of Auto Trim of Mid Wisconsin. According to Koceja, the only government relief his business has received has been from PPP.

U.S. Tint/Shadow Enterprises’ Mike Funk has applied for a Small Business Association (SBA) grant and has found difficulty applying for PPP. “[We’re] trying to apply for the PPP but no bank will take it right now,” Funk said. According to the company, it has recently received $5,000 of the EIDL grant, which according to the company, was supposed to be $10,000.

But not all window film businesses have been recipients of financial relief as Brian Arnett, Midwest Tinting president, said his company is still waiting.

Has your company seen any government relief, if so leave a comment below, or email eholcomb@glass.com.