CHARLIE AND THE FILM FACTORY
Charlie Arakelian, owner of Northeast Tint in Springfield, Mass., walked away with second place in the first-ever Architectural Glass Tint-Offô. The self-described artist and musician sat down with Window Film magazine for an interview after the competition and let us in on what makes him tick.
Q: How long have you been applying window film?
Thirteen (13) years.
Q: How long have you owned your own business?
Three (3) years. I worked for someone else off and on for about ten years making peanuts, then decided it was time to make it on my own.
Q: How did you get started in the business?
I started in the late 1980s tinting autos. All of my friends had cars tinted.
Q: How many projects do you think youíve tinted since you started?
Iíve laid down hundreds of yards of square feet.
Q: Whatís the hardest part about owning your own business?
The costs of operating a business, whether itís electric bills, insurance or window film. The most expensive part is advertising, finding new ways to reach customers, staying fresh and keeping the excitement going.
Q: What are your future plans for your business?
I want to nationally franchise Northeast Tint within the next two to five years. Within ten years, I want to go international and make the company the largest window film installing company in the world.
Q: What is your favorite frame to film?
Each frame presents its own circumstance, so thereís no least or most favorite. Each time I look at a window, I know what the situation will be Ö if itís wood, aluminum, steel, the kind that drips stuff onto the film Ö but theyíre all fun.
Q: Did you encounter any obstacles in the tint-off?
The only problem I had was dealing with the Washington airport. They smashed my toolbox, broke the bottles and ruined my big squeegee.
Q: How competitive did you find the Tint-Off?
Very. Itís nerve-wracking, so that makes for a more interesting, competitive situation. Next year, Iím sure there will be more contestants.
Q: Will you compete again next year?
Certainly. Itís been fun. Itís been such a pleasure to finally have an internationally-recognized shooting point to gauge industry standards. For more than ten years it seems that when Iím on the job, whether itís residential or commercial, I find myself competing for ďworldís best tinterĒ on a personal level. The scope of our business happens on ladders, where speed, using extreme caution, your skill with a razor, not dropping things come into play.
Q: What are your hobbies?
Tinting. I chose my favorite hobby for my career. Mama and papa always said do something you love to do. My day goes by *snap* like that. One minute itís 6 a.m. and the next itís 6 p.m. After that, I pick up my paintbrush because Iím an artist, and Iím in a bandóInfragreenósinging, playing acoustic guitar and mandolin. I also snowboard.