IWFA's Women In Window Film Series - Rose Bartoli
President: Sun Control Plus
A Rosie View of The Window Film Business
In 1993 Rose Bartoli wanted to find a solution to the sun's glare in the new home they had just built. She was also looking to maintain the view through the windows when Rose saw an advertisement for window film in Better Homes and Gardens and decided it was the answer to her sun control problem.
At the time she was the salesperson for a janitorial and window cleaning business based in Northeastern Pennsylvania. She saw window film as a great add-on business opportunity for the company she was working for. "I was initially starting up the window film business for the company that I had been working part-time for and had convinced my boss that window film complemented what we were already selling - window cleaning," said Rose.
After several months of learning more about window film business she started to see the light and thought that instead of building the window film as part of someone else's business, she decided to buy-out that portion of the business from the employer.
This was the start of Sun Control Plus, Inc. based in Old Forge, Pennsylvania and Rose’s 26-year, award-winning career where she serves as its president.
Rose had several things going for her in her new venture. She knew she believed in the product, she understood the sales process and was good at it, she already had built up a network of contacts in the region and she knew how to prep windows before window film was installed.
"When we started out, I did all the prep work for the window film installation. I hired several part-time installers and over the years and I was their assistant on installations at first, along with the sales and business owner role," she said. Rose's husband was a sheet metal installer at the time and together they went for window film installation training.
Until they had a solid business, Rose's husband Carlo installed window film on weekends and kept his full time sheet metal job. Rose made sales calls and found she was selling mostly to men in the commercial side of the business. She had already grown accustomed to the doubting looks from male facility managers, business owners, contractors and architects. "I knew the product and I knew how to sell it, so I was able to overcome any of the initial doubts sent my way simply because I wore a skirt," said Rose.
A lot has changed since starting the business in 1993. "Nowadays you are just as likely to be talking with a facility manager who is a woman," said Rose. She also said because window film has made so many technical advances that the sale is more complex. In the early days, the primary benefit of window film was solar reduction and had an amber hue. Today the choice includes optically clear window film that can outperform traditional films of the past and they offer a wide range of benefits. For the commercial market they offer a 15-year warranty and lifetime for residential clients.
According to Rose, business owners are faced with ever tightening budgets to run their buildings. She is accredited by the International Window Film Association (IWFA) as a Solar Control Specialist and is also an Energy Consultant. "We offer an energy audit for large buildings to determine how much savings can be gained from their heating and cooling expenses. I also enjoy using my creative and design skills when I am working with a range of upscale homeowners to improve the look and function of their residence," she adds.
Rose gained recognition from the regional Business Journal as a 25 Top Women in Business. In addition to knowing her products and installation process inside and out, another secret to her success has been her networking skills. She has worked as a volunteer for a number of local and regional organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce. Her business lists memberships with the IWFA, Costars, the American Institute of Architects and board member of Lackawanna Industrial Fund, among other groups.
As a family owned business, Sun Control Plus employs two installers in addition to Carlo. The team gets rave reviews from the customers for being as neat as a pin when on the job. A commercial customer sent in this praise for the team: "Now that we have the film on the windows, we can enjoy the sunshine and the view outside our office. As for the installation, we could not have asked for a more efficient, professional job! The guys were polite, helpful and friendly. They worked quickly with a minimum of fuss and cleaned up for themselves such that you would never know they had been there. We cannot recommend them more highly!”
Sun Control Plus never offered automotive window film, as it was a different kind of sale and installation process. "We want to keep our focus on flat glass installations. The sales cycle can be longer, but in the end it's more rewarding for us," Rose said.
In addition to cold calling for sales, much of the business is generated from referrals and repeat business. Two rules that have helped to make her a success are, "You have to be organized, and you have to make good on your promises."
Building contractors that have worked with Sun Control Plus in the past are frequently calling at the last minute to schedule window film installations on either new windows being installed, or to retrofit a building they are working on. In addition to climate control window films, in today’s market we sell 8-millimeter security film to many schools, hospitals and worship centers," said Rose.
On being a woman in the window film industry Rose says, "Times have changed for the better, people are more respectful, I am not constantly having to prove myself just because I am a woman in what was once seen as a man's business and my customers really appreciate my focus and knowledge of this business, our professionalism and we install what we offer."
When Rose isn't getting in a few extra winks to rest up for a busy day, she also takes yoga classes to relax, loves to cook and garden, as well as spends time with her daughter and husband Carlo in the beautiful settings of Northeast Pennsylvania.