When you’re considering investing in residential window film for your Houston-area home, you need a company you can trust. We spoke with Mike McKinley, Fine Line Glass Tinting’s project manager and digital marketing manager, to find out what sets Fine Line apart, what to look for in a film and an installer, and what’s so rewarding about being part of the Fine Line team.
Q: What do you like most about what you do?
Mike: I enjoy the challenge of the day, and I also enjoy working with amazing people and servicing our clients in the most efficient way possible. Both of my roles allow for creativity, autonomy, and purpose, driving positive outcomes for our clients. I’m afforded the unique opportunity to interact directly with our clients and vendors, providing inimitable perspective on the business and outcomes. It’s very rewarding to see the front and back end of my roles and how our clients respond to the work I put into their projects.
Q: How did you join Fine Line Tint? Can you give us a brief background on your experience?
Mike: I joined Fine Line Glass Tinting as a young man in the mid 90s as an apprentice installer, going to school in the morning and working in the afternoon. I worked directly with Marty (Johnston, the owner), learning the trade and how to tint vehicles, homes and commercial windows. Each of them required different techniques, which I enjoyed. It was challenging and rewarding to learn a trade and solve a problem at the same time. I worked at several other “tint shops” in the area for several years, tinting at a high level until I decided to come back to Fine Line. I worked for Marty as the lead installer on the crew, running the jobs, being responsible for the client’s satisfaction and training other apprentice installers.
At that time, I was starting a young family. So I decided to make the career move to the oilfield, where I worked in manufacturing and R&D. There I was doing testing, building, and prototyping laboratory equipment for cement and drilling mud performance evaluation and downhole tools for formation logging, directional drilling, and reservoir mapping. I specialized in MWD/LWD, mud pulse, gamma ray, resistivity, training and product sustaining. I traveled the world supporting clients in demanding environments, where solutions to problems were the expectation. I worked with this company for 10 years before moving to another oilfield company as a corporate trainer in Sugar Land.
I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the best in the industry. I’ve seen and participated in some amazing projects. Unfortunately, when the price of oil drops, so do employee levels. I was eventually laid off and needed to dust off my tint tools. Having this trade to fall back on has been a real blessing. I’ve been able to pair my tinting history with the skills I gained in the oilfield to help Fine Line grow and prosper, even in difficult times. As I look forward, I see a bright future for the window film industry as new products are constantly being developed and old products are being revived. I’m happy to be a part of Fine Line and work hard every day to bring our customers the best films on the market.
Q: What do you like about Fine Line’s company culture?
Mike: I like the small-business atmosphere, where I have the opportunity to help shape the environment. It’s a place where I’m trusted to get the job done and where the customer drives the outcome. I realized long ago that no matter how big the company, the customer is always right. We don’t need to remind any of the employees of this. They know. It’s deep-rooted and the primary focus of our daily activities.
Q: What’s the most important thing you think a customer should know about selecting residential window film?
Mike: First and foremost, they should stick with the major brands. Off-brand films may seem like a good idea, if cost is the only criteria for selection. However major brands (such as 3M, Huper Optik, and Xpel) are the most respected in the industry. From them, you’ll always get what you pay for; receive consistent results; and benefit from the diversity in their offerings, longevity of their products, and value in their warranties. Most importantly, you’ll be getting a product that does what it was intended to do: Perform.
Secondly, be wary of knock-off brands. Most quality film manufacturers provide watermarks or other forms of unique identifiers on the film or adhesive liner. This is for a reason. Their films are often imitated, or off-brand films are offered in their place, creating confusion in quality and price. If the quote is too low on major brands, contact other installers who offer this exact film and get price comparisons. This can be a good way to verify that you’ll be getting the film you want.
Q: Then what should they know about selecting an installer?
Mike: I would definitely select a well-known and experienced installation provider. There’s no substitute for experience. An installation company can have access to the best film in the world, but if they don’t know how to apply it, the film will not perform.
Training is also critical. Thinking back to my early days of window film installation, I wasn’t allowed to install film until I’d mastered the art of cleanliness. For a film to perform and last, the window must be prepared in a specific and methodical manner, and training plays a pivotal role in the outcome. This is the first and most critical step and is one that must be taught and rigorously adhered to, no matter the window or the home.
Q: What’s your best advice to a customer who’s looking to install window film at their home or business?
Mike: If you’re considering installing window film, your first thought may be to search Google for “window tint near me.” That’s what I’d do. But just remember. Window tinting is an art. It’s not something we can order from Amazon or pick up in a drive through window. It’s a skilled trade — one that takes patience and practice to get amazing results. If you’re looking for a great experience, work with a company who has seen it all, has long-term employees and a reputation for honesty, integrity, and fair business practices.
Q: What’s something we might not know about you?
Mike: Let’s see … I have a 17-year-old daughter. She’s an amazing individual with a great heart and a bright future. I have a beautiful and talented girlfriend who I really enjoy spending time with. I find her to be a true blessing and am fortunate such an individual exists in my life.
I have a 3D printer I use to make gadgets with, and I’m a novice CAD modeler. I work out three times a week and enjoy eating healthy. I’m an inventor. I enjoy woodworking projects, refinishing old furniture, fixing things around the house, working on old cars — really, I enjoy anything outdoors. Oh, and I have a habit of watching a little too much “Star Trek.” Basically, I’m a big nerd.
When you’re looking for a high-quality window film installer with decades of experience, look no further than Fine Line Glass Tinting. Their focus on quality, training, and customer service is second-to-none. And our one-year craftsmanship warranty means that you can be confident your job will be done right. Every time. Contact us today to learn more.