Northwest Business Magazine

Success Stories: AAA Glass Tint

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This Crystal Lake firm has spent three decades providing window film that protects against UV rays, solar heat and unwanted glare. Learn what it takes to run a successful window film business and find out what separates this company from the competition.

David Johnson and his wife, Kara, took over ownership of AAA Glass Tint in Crystal Lake in 2016. The business has been servicing residential and commercial customers since 1984.

A lot of things have to fall into place in order for your company to succeed.

There must be a demand for your product or service. Customers must be satisfied with the value and quality of your offering. A well-trained team must be groomed to handle business growth efficiently. And the owner must have integrity, vision, a strong work ethic and the wisdom to adapt to changing circumstances.

These cornerstones of success have fallen into place for David Johnson, co-owner of AAA Glass Tint, 930 Pyott Road, Ste. 103, in Crystal Lake. He and Kara, his wife of six years, took over ownership of the business from David Capps in 2016, but the business has been servicing the Chicago area since 1984.

“Our goal is to build on the former owner’s experience and expand and grow the business to its fullest potential,” Johnson says.

AAA Glass Tint specializes in window film for residential and commercial windows. Team members strive to find the best solution for solar glare, UV protection, fade prevention and heat reduction/retention problems.

Thousands of homes and businesses in Crystal Lake and its surrounding communities have benefited from these services.

Johnson has taken a circuitous path to selling and installing window film. After he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas, he took on a role managing Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Ill. After working in that environment for eight years, he was ready for something new.

“We got into the world of window film because we wanted to explore options outside of the golf course industry,” Johnson says. “We thought this would be a great opportunity to be a business owner, and after exploring many options and extensive due diligence, we found this to be the perfect opportunity to enter the small-business world.”

Given his background managing a Top 100 country club, Johnson believes his training there has helped him to be successful in running a window film business.

“Most of my training is geared toward golf course management, but it’s similar in many ways to running a small business,” Johnson says. “This has helped me in many facets to owning a small business.”

One strategy he’s learned is how to manage a budget for a small business. He’s learned how to hire and train people of various ages and educational attainments, and he’s developed accounting skills. Johnson has also been trained in conflict management skills, in case an issue arises with the staff.

“Working in the golf course business, I learned a great deal about what it takes to manage people and money,” Johnson says. “I’ve had very large budgets at times and very low budgets at times. During that time, I’ve managed well over 100 employees, hiring/firing and, most importantly, training – those are all part of being a manager. The human resources aspect largely helped to give me the experience I needed to manage a business of my own, and do it comfortably.”

When you think of window tint, the first thing that might come to mind is material for your car windows. That’s how AAA Glass Tint got off the ground.

“The previous owner developed this business out of a need,” Johnson says. “He was in the automobile industry and as part of his service, he did window tinting. This business has evolved to what it is today.

Despite the business’ past, Johnson says he’s not interested in working with automotive window tint.

“Automotive is not our specialty,” he says. We strive to be the best at home and office applications. When you know you’re improving the quality of life for homeowners or helping to reduce utility costs for building managers, it’s very rewarding.”

The business’ evolution is a good thing, Johnson says, because it separates him from other window tint companies in the area. It allows him and his employees to stay focused on the unique qualities of residential and commercial properties.

“We’re leaving the automotive side alone, and we’re fine with that,” he says.

Putting window film on your home or business is something that’s more common in southern states, Johnson says, but he wants to show how it can benefit customers in the Chicago area, as well.

“Our customers want UV protection, heat reduction, and to decrease unwanted glare,” Johnson says. “If you have a house that gets too bright or has too much heat, we have products we can provide that still allow a great deal of light in your house, but will also significantly help with heat reduction. Our film will do a good job of reducing heat and creating more-comfortable areas in your home.”

Despite what some may think, not all window film is dark. Johnson says some of his most popular films allow plenty of light while offering UV and heat rejection qualities. Tinting can also create a safety barrier for the home.

“This will help to keep the glass from shattering,” Johnson says. “We offer safety films and these commercial-grade products to help prevent people from breaking and entering. It’s designed to work in conjunction with your alarm system as an added layer of security.”

Johnson also takes pride in the execution of the company’s customer service – one of the top priorities of his business. He puts an extra emphasis on staff training.

“If you’re not training your new guys properly, at the end of the day that can impact your customer service,” he says. “It’s something we strive to be good at.”

Johnson says he’s willing to listen to new ideas from his staff, especially the newer ones. He enjoys getting to know the employees and learning from them.

“Some of our new guys can have some great ideas, and if they’re appropriate we’ll give them a shot,” he says.

One of the challenging parts of being a business owner, Johnson says, is trying to find the right person for the job while at the same time trying to be fair.

“We give everyone adequate training, but sometimes, it’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole,” he says. “When I was a younger manager, I wanted all my staff to be equally good at every job, but as I got older, I realized this isn’t always practical. I learned that people are unique, and they have their own talents. Finding out their talent and how they can help the most has proven to be a great way to manage.”

That’s important in this line of work, especially when you’re just starting out, because a lot of work involves hands-on training.

“You have to learn the industry from the bottom up,” Johnson says. “You learn techniques, and different ways and methods of using the products. You have to just see where they fit and go from there.”

The Johnsons say they’re happy with the way things are going at AAA Glass Tint and are looking toward the future as they place a premium on keeping customers happy.

“We treat our customers how we want to be treated, and it’s important for us to do the best job we can,” Kara says. “At the end of the day, we want to make sure our customers were provided with a great product and are satisfied.”

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