If you’re feeling the crunch of higher prices in the grocery store or at the gas pump, relief for your wallet could be on the way. Both federal and state-level legislation has been introduced (and in some cases, already passed) to send rebates or stimulus checks directly to Americans.
FilmDirect of Brieselang, Germany, finds itself doling out more than industry products this spring. The Legend Paint Protection Film distributor is a mere 882 miles from Kyiv, Ukraine, a country under siege and in need of humanitarian aid. Owner Owen Lloyd and his team answered the call for help.
“Ukraine is about a seven-hour drive from where our company is located—we’re pretty close,” Lloyd says. “I was thinking, ‘There’s nowhere in our local area where people can donate essential items.’ I posted a notice on a local Facebook webpage: ‘If you want to donate, you can come to our company and drop off stuff at the warehouse.’”
Locals turned up within hours, with distant philanthropists delivering unannounced care via Amazon. “We did that for a week until it got to the stage where it was too much to manage and do our daily jobs,” Lloyd adds. “I then went to the local city hall [for coordination]. They gave us an empty building, and I organized 50 volunteers on Facebook for management. We’re open every day; so far, we’ve sent two lorry [truck] loads to Poland and Ukraine.”
*FilmDirect’s Collected Items
• Sleeping bags, blankets, sleeping pads
• Baby food
• First aid kits
• Hygiene (child/ baby)
• Underwear (ladies/children)
• Hygiene items
• Baby equipment
• Disposable tableware
• Walking aids, rollators, wheelchairs
• Pet food
• Batteries, flashlights
*Depending on the needs, the donations are sent directly to the Ukraine/Poland border region.
According to the United Nations, 3.6 million people had left Ukraine as of March 27. Poland has taken in 2,293,833, or 63.7%, of all refugees. “We found a local transport company that puts a trailer in a yard, and once it’s full, they take it free of charge into Poland for us,” Lloyd explains. “It’s quite incredible because the price of gas has gone up worldwide.”
Legend Paint Protection Film’s Kyiv-based distributor is also making an impact—on the battlefield. “They are using their vans to deliver food and medicine to people in Kyiv,” Lloyd says. “They’re also wrapping military vehicles in camouflage. We bought them bulletproof vests and helmets; while they’re delivering [aid], they could be caught in the crossfire.”
Lloyd says 10 Ukrainian families are located in the area, and all are welcome to pick up supplies if needed. His country is partnered with a NATO alliance that includes 30 independent member countries, but uncertainty abounds.
“It’s a feeling we’ve never had—something you would never foresee happening,” he says of Russia’s February 24 invasion.
The White House is sounding the alarm on the risk that private companies face of Kremlin-backed cyberattacks. “Warnings based on evolving intelligence that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks,” President Biden said in a statement on Monday. “It’s part of Russia’s playbook.”
Denis Pundik was born in the Soviet Union in 1977, 14 years before its dissolution in 1991. He’s the owner of Cape Cod Tint Guy in Cape Cod, Mass. But with family and connections in Ukraine, his mind wanders beyond film after Russia’s February 24 invasion.
“I spoke with my buddy, and his wife has a sister who’s hiding in a bunker with two children,” says Pundik, who immigrated to Brooklyn, N.Y., at 11 years old. “It’s a different perspective … It’s worries, prayers, and heartbreak.”
Pundik was born in what is now known as Kharkiv, Ukraine, which has been subject to deadly attacks. “Ukraine was a place of birth, but Russia was a neighbor and a friend. It’s awful—current events will separate many people and make unnecessary enemies. I feel saddened by the whole thing.”
Kos Vyn was born in Dnipro, Ukraine, in 1995, four years after the Soviet Union’s dissolution. He moved to Albany, N.Y., with his mother in 2008, where he picked up tinting. Vyn is now the owner of Dark Zero Motors in Jonesboro, Ga.
“The rest of my family is in Ukraine—my grandfather, aunt, and cousin,” Vyn says. “My cousin recently gave birth to a baby boy.”
More than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine since the war’s onset, according to ABC News. Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in early 2014, a precursor for today’s conflict.
“It progressing into something like this—I don’t have anger. It’s more sadness,” Vyn adds. “Knowing I have family there, and there’s a potential chance of death. That’s the end goal of the war—death. There is a lot of worry and sadness.”
Tinting is an escape for many, and Pundik is no exception. The 12-year industry veteran, whose business is 90% automotive, finds his groove while working. Pop and techno hits keep the film star moving.
“It relaxes me,” Pundik explains. “I like to be challenged; each car is different every single time. Some people get frustrated and throw things around. I take my time, I’m by myself, nobody’s stressing me out, and I have the music going.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the global supply chain and material costs. Unfortunately, the war looks to worsen the situation.
“Our industry has a petroleum-based element to it,” says Patric Fransko, owner of Window Film Pros in Newport Beach, Calif. “When you see crude oil go up significantly, it will impact the raw polyester and petroleum-based products used in our industry. You can carry that for a while if it’s a temporary blip in pricing. But if that stays higher in the long term, it will have a pricing implication for our industry.”
International benchmark Brent crude hit a high of $107.57 per barrel, a price last seen in July 2014, just a few months after Russia’s initial invasion of the Crimean Peninsula. There are many uncertainties, but the industry demonstrated grit during several new COVID variants over the past two years.
“We wouldn’t have known going into the dawn of COVID that it would be a solid 18 months of business for people in the window film industry,” Fransko adds.
Material prices may climb, and the supply chain may falter further, but the human impact is most tragic. Pundik’s friend traveled to Kharkiv for a business trip in November, a time when 2022’s violence seemed outlandish.
“He was like, ‘They did some amazing work,’” Pundik says. “‘Upscale parks for kids, hotels, restaurants, and churches. People are putting heart and soul into building up this city.’ I said, ‘I’m going with you on your next trip.’ That might never happen now.”