By Chris Collier
Paint protection film (PPF) provides protection from rock chips, road debris, scratches and scuffs, chemical stains and etching and ultraviolet ray damage that affect cars. But have you met the dealers propelling the product segment forward? PPFMag’s 2023 Top Dealer list represents the companies, owners and installers behind the widespread impact throughout the automotive industry. To be considered next year, please contact Chris Collier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eclipse Window Tinting Inc., Cincinnati
“A real catalyst for our growth is the fact that the majority of our team members are senior techs with many years of experience,” says Rick Puthoff, president of Eclipse Window Tinting Inc. in Cincinnati. “Around 2015, we started building a training manual in extreme detail. The techs had all the knowledge from complex tasks, all the way down to simple things like, for example, mixing chemicals and the proper ratio. We laid out every task we do, broke it down and documented it. You can even search the manual for the answers you’re looking for right from your smart phone. We
follow these processes in everything we do.”
Puthoff says his company is in its third year of a new 22,000-square-foot facility. He and his team hosted its annual open house in May, which saw almost 500 cars and more than 4,000 attendees. He says landing on PPFMag’s 2023 Top Dealer list is a rewarding experience that provides validation for another year of hard work.
“There was a day I realized our staff could handle more than we can throw at them most days,” Puthoff says. “They not only keep up but they deliver our clients fast, high-quality installs. This makes things easy for sales staff interactions with clients and has led to over 1,300 five-star Google reviews. With the growth we’ve had, they shouldn’t be able to keep up, but they do every day.”
So far in 2023, Eclipse Window Tinting Inc. has bested each month this year when compared to 2022. But Puthoff has weathered a personal storm along the way.
“Unfortunately, my father passed away suddenly at the end of 2021,” Puthoff shares. “He was my best friend. My dad was the security director of General Electric Aircraft Engines. They make civilian and military jet engines. The job required a Top Secret Security clearance which always impressed me. He oversaw hundreds of staff. He had all the answers I needed or I sure thought he did. I think dealing with all of that emotion while also not having your mentor to guide you in running a team of people has been extremely challenging. I’ve never spoken out about losing him before, but I sure do miss him every day.”
Clear Pro LLC, Murrieta, Calif.
“I am surrounded by a great team, and everyone who is on our team has bought into what we are trying to do,” says Lance Pugh, owner of Clear Pro LLC in Murrieta, Calif. “Being listed in the Top PPF Dealers list is a highlight of my career, and I feel like I’m just getting started.”
Pugh says his team entered 2023 with a goal of exceeding seven figures in sales. He says they’re well on their way, but the climb wasn’t without its challenges.
“As with every business, there are always things to overcome and grow from,” Pugh says. “I think our biggest challenge for 2022 was losing my front office person in October. The front office person at Clear Pro is a big part of the face and reputation here, so when we lost [that] piece, it set us back. We had to start fresh with a new front office person who had to learn how we do things and it caused our numbers to not be as great as they were on track to be. But we were still up 15% over 2021.”
Pugh believes that a “rising tide raises all ships” and he enjoys helping others become better installers. He’s seen the industry shift since he entered it two decades ago.
“I started in the PPF industry in 2001, and so much has changed from when I started,” Pugh shares. “We were only doing partial fronts. Now most of what we do is full fronts and full cars. The materials are also [better]. The original materials were like stretching cardboard and the patterns were lacking greatly. But the greatest difference is the community of installers that
are out there with a wealth of knowledge willing to share what they know. I can call up several people from around the country and ask them almost anything—they will help.”
All Pro Window Films Inc., Raleigh, N.C.
“The most exciting news about our company is seeing how customers are starting to respond to all the things we are doing to establish ourselves as the dominant PPF shop and team in our market,” says Keith Garwood, president and founder of All Pro Window Films Inc. in Raleigh, N.C. “For over 30 years, we have been well known as the go-to auto tint shop. Several years ago, we broke through the barriers and established ourselves as a dominant architectural window film company. Our goal is to do the same thing with our PPF division. Last year and this year are dedicated to PPF.”
Garwood says his company set a goal at the beginning of 2023 to expand its dedicated paint protection film area. The business plan included expanded use of its two, four-post lifts. For the uninitiated, a four-post lift is a mechanical lifting system relying on four posts to lift a piece of equipment or a vehicle to a specified height in order to perform work on a product, according to Handling Specialty.
“We had already installed two, four-post lifts but had been only using one for PPF due to having only one dedicated installer,” Garwood explains. “Other services were using the second four-post lift, so we are still moving things around the shop and instructing the other services to utilize other areas of the shop and not the four-post lifts.”
In addition to productivity improvements, Garwood and his unit are currently re-styling the PPF installation area.
“We painted that area and cleaned it up so that when we take photos for social media, the photos have a cooler vibe,” he explains. “We still plan to add printed wall graphics to the newly-painted area, but we are discussing how to do this and keep it clean and cool at the same time.”
Garwood adds that his team continues to train a second dedicated PPF installer. “This will allow us to do more volume by getting PPF jobs done quicker,” he adds. “Once we feel confident in the skills of the second installer, and if sales allow, we plan to start training a third one.”
Chris Collier is the editor for PPFMag.
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