The 2019 International Window Film Tint-Off and Conference (IWFC) took place this year at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was a three-day event full of networking, valuable learning, and friendly competition sponsored by Window Film magazine and Paint Protection Film Magazine.
Getting Revved Up
Though the official event didn’t begin until Wednesday, those of us competing had to attend the mandatory installers meeting on Tuesday for the Paint Protective Film Division. This is where we drew numbers to find out which heat we would be competing in. I was happy to be competing in round 4, the final heat. The advantages of being able to watch the competitors go before me, and starting with a clean and prepped car from the previous heats couldn’t be underestimated. Through watching their techniques and how the judges responded, I’d get a leg up on my rivals, and there were a lot of rivals. Over 50 of the best installers were in attendance, hand-picked by their respective manufacturers. Among them was Chris West, 1st place winner of the 2018 XPEL ULTIMATE competition, an admirable threat.
I had until Thursday afternoon before my heat in the competition, so I took extra steps to be sure I was focused and sharp until then. I rested when I could, went for a workout, and got a massage to help me relax. I felt prepared and ready to go but was still cautiously nervous. I’ve been successful in the past, so the bar was set high and there was a definite awareness of the target on my back.
Let the Games Begin
On Thursday, when it was finally my turn to enter the arena as a competitor, I zeroed in on my goal: I was going to make it to the top of the pack for the Paint Protective Film Division. During my heat, I was in the zone and completely in my element. All of my attention and years of preparation lead me to complete a quick, professional, and near-flawless film install, crushing the competition. The judges were so impressed with my work that they drew a smiley face on my film.
At 9:30 p.m. that night we got the list of who had qualified for the finals, and wouldn’t you know it, Chris West and I both made it. The finals were at 9:00 a.m. bright and early the next morning and it was a knockdown, drag-out fight! Here we were, the best of the best, competing for the first place spot. In the end, I know I could have done a better install on my bumper so I already knew I wasn’t placing first. I placed third, maintaining my winning streak and making this my fifth year in a row placing in the top three. As calculations stand, I am still the only competitor to take home 1st place twice, and with two different manufacturer films, at that!
The Real Win
Now, competing is excited and I love it, but what I look forward to the most at these conferences is learning from the most successful people in our industry. I gravitate towards them to learn all that I can to grow my company and be of better service to my customers. I am extremely grateful for the partnership I have formed with the great people at XPEL. I was able to enjoy nightly dinner meetings with them throughout the length of the conference, and the XPEL employees have become close friends and PPF family. The love and support from this manufacturer far exceeds anything I’ve experienced in my 12 years in the field. They are truly phenomenal.
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