In recent years the window film industry has undergone some major consolidation. With so many brands to choose from when selecting window film how is a person supposed to know or even understand if there is a difference? After all, window film is just window tinting right? What could go wrong?
For many years keeping track of window film manufacturers was simple but nowadays the providers is overwhelming. We’ve seen large corporations snatch up many window film manufacturers and brands in recent times, why?
An important questions to ask is: why do these large companies want to be involved in the window film industry? Well, the answer is simple. We first need to understand, at a basic level, what problems window film solves. Window film is solving two of biggest problems mankind is facing in these modern times, energy and safety.
The world is searching for a solution to produce energy and being able to meet the rising demands in the near future. There is only two ways to do this, through energy generation (producing more energy) and energy conservation (using what energy we have more efficiently). Window film falls into the conservation part of the equation. Window film is one of the best solutions to increasing energy efficiency.
The second problem mankind faces is safety and security, protecting people and property. The entire earth is affected by crime, terrorism and unsavory characters. Windows and glass are not going away, so how do you provide secure places to live and work that have glass in their environments? By using window film to add protection.
In recent times, three key players have moved into the window film industry. In fact, some of the worlds largest corporations have made investments and key purchases to grab a piece of the window film industry. Companies like 3M, Eastman Chemical and Saint Gobain.
Recently, all three of these behemoths made it on the Forbes's Global Leading Companies 2000 list. 3M ranked 194th, Saint Gobain ranked 277, and Eastman Chemicals ranked 786. These are some of the world’s largest and best companies investing in window film technology today.
So, which one is best? How can a business owner, property owner or homeowner make an informed decision on which product to invest their hard earned money in? Well, the proof is in the pudding… or the facts.
EnerLogic®, FormulaOne®, Gila®, Huper Optik®, IQue™, LLumar®, Nanolux™, Sun-X™, Vista™ and V-KOOL® window films are all manufactured by the same company. Originally all of these brands were acquired by a company called Solutia, formed as a divestiture for the corporation Monsanto in 1997. Since the introduction of Solutia into the window film industry, they made an aggressive strategy to acquire window film brands to gain market share. Solutia entered bankruptcy in 2003 and did not emerge until 2008. In 2012 Solutia was purchased by Eastman Chemical for a reported $4.8 billion dollars.
The Solar-Gard® window film brand is owned by Saint-Gobain, a French multinational company that’s dates back to 1665. Yep, the Madico and Solamatrix® window film brands are owned by Lintec, the Japanese printing company.
3M™ window film is the only brand continuously manufactured and sold by the same parent company throughout its history. And 3M has no secondary window film brands or alternatives. Interesting enough, 3M also holds the first and original patent for window film. U.S. Patent 3,290,203 was issued in December 6, 1966 to Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M’s original name).
When a product requires professional installation, a brand is only as good as its dealer base. You can make the best product in the world, but if you can’t install or support your product correctly, you're going to have problems.
I believe longevity is a primary factor in determining the viability of a company and a key indicator for future success. For many of the window film brands listed above, their key qualification for partnering with installation companies is getting the digits of your credit card information. That’s it. As a business person it would terrify me to have someone I barely know or vetted in any way representing my brand to the mass market.
A few of the listed brands actually employ strong partnerships with their installation dealers. Such as 3M, Vista and Huper Optik.
Picking the best window film manufacturer and their brands is no simple task. Remembering that you are purchasing more than the window film itself, you're purchasing the installation service and the after the sell product support. We have written numerous articles on how to select and determine the best window tinting contractor for your project.
One important factor that has become clear to me with this article is that the window film industry’s future is bright. Those of us representing the industry have an incredible opportunity before us.
We have created this helpful infographic to help you better visualize and gain more insight into the companies behind popular window film brands.