Training Talk: Part Two
By Mel Villalon
I want to share my perspectives on transferring skills from related segments to the paint protection film (PPF) realm. I often see questions in our professional forums from people who bought a roll of PPF and are trying to figure it out.
The ‘Why’ Behind it all
I believe it’s a toss-up on whether being completely green is an asset or a detriment. A firm understanding of “why” an installer wants to learn, combined with determination, perseverance and patience, is what it takes. If you’re a boss who wants to send people out for training so they can make you rich, this isn’t a solid plan. They need a reason—a why.
You may be very well-versed in coatings or window tinting or vinyl wraps. Each segment has traits that would be beneficial to know when installing PPF. Mindset and ego can turn these skills/traits against an applicator.
If you decide that training makes sense, here’s my advice. Remain humble and teachable. Listen and ask questions, rather than going on and on about how you think it should be done. The more time you spend, either challenging your instructor or bragging about yourself, the less your instructor will have time or be inclined to help you. You may run into an instructor with less skills or knowledge than you. If that’s the case, get on board and start giving back. Tactfully help your fellow students, and you’ll quickly see that the act of explaining what you do through simple muscle memory and instinct will also improve your own understanding of why you install the way you do. Even if you add a simple tip to your mental tool arsenal, it will always be with you.
As someone who originally was self-taught in both window tinting and PPF, I can train anyone to hit the professional installation milestones I have achieved at a fraction of the time and wasted materials it took me to figure things out. I bet the designers of PPF kits have discovered things that I hadn’t thought of. We can always learn more from ourselves and each other.
I like attending or sitting in on basic training classes in search of that minute detail I may have missed, forgotten o r misunderstood. Any level of training is a chance to pick up a technique or even recall something I may have long forgotten. Get trained and certified as often as possible.
Even if you’re a seasoned veteran, I can assure you that taking an advanced course will get you up to speed on the latest tips, techniques and tools. Trust me—if you were trained before we went into the pandemic, you’ll want to catch a session. It simply isn’t the same in 2023. I’ve taken a lot of courses and seminars across the country, both as a student and instructor. I feel very fortunate to have spent time with many experienced individuals.
Learning and Growing
“I’ve been in the industry since 2001, so I grew up with a lot of these guys,” says David Kratz, CEO of Autobahn, Hüper Optik USA and Edge. “Some of them were my mentors. Mel is someone who helped me a lot early on in my career. Either I or other staff members know them. We approached them to say, ‘Hey, come and inspire more people.’”
Hüper Optik, Autobahn Window Films and Edge launched its training program in late 2021, constructing a space called The Studio in May 2022. The courses are led by industry veterans such as Mel Villalon of Paradise Tinting in Long Beach, Calif.; Johnny ‘Blades’ Gonzalez of Texas Heat Tint in Huffman, Texas; Brodie Mathews, owner of DeCo Tint and Tint America in Arvada, Colo.; and industry trainer Marco Cazorla.
Mel Villalon is the general manager of Paradise Tinting in Long Beach, Calif.
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