Here’s the latest in an occasional question-and-answer feature with a Tint World franchisee
Pete Muller isn’t one to drop names. He declined to identify the celebrities and athletes who have patronized the Orlando – Longwood, Florida, Tint World franchise owned by him and his wife, Barbra.
He will, however, point out he has photos of himself working on Donald Trump’s Lamborghini from many years ago. But that was long before Trump became president and before Muller opened his Tint World® franchise.
Here’s a question-and-answer exchange with Muller, whose franchise turned two years old in July.
Question: How did you cross paths with Tint World?
Answer: I may be one of the more unique franchisees, in that I came from within this industry, whereas the typical Tint World franchise owners have come from a variety of other business backgrounds. I had worked for several different companies that were suppliers to Tint World, and spent nearly 20 years on the manufacturer side of the automotive aftermarket industry. I wore many hats over the years, holding positions ranging from product development, to training, marketing, as well as domestic and international sales. I’d known (Tint World executive vice president) Paul Pirro since the late 90’s. I met (owner and president) Charles Bonfiglio in 2009, shortly after he had converted Tint World in to a franchise, and we had lunch together to discuss various ways of expanding Tint World’s car audio business. I admired his passion and everything he wanted to do, so we stayed friendly and kept in touch ever since then.
So when did you become a franchisee?
After spending years in the corporate world, my wife and I decided we wanted to start a local business together that could be our own, that would also allow us to have more freedom to focus on our kids and family life. So about three years ago, we started looking at a number of different franchises. We were looking at things we like… mostly food. We like food (laughs). But then the thought crossed my mind about Tint World and how fast it was growing as a franchise, along with the fact that there wasn’t a location in Orlando. So, I called Paul, just as a friend, and said ‘I see Tint World stores all over the state, but nothing in Orlando. Do you think a store would do well here?’ He said if he had the opportunity to do it, he’d do it. It was a huge market, and a great opportunity. That led to my wife and I spending a day down at Tint World headquarters, and when we left, we thought, ‘Maybe we should do this.’ About a week later, we decided to go for it… which eventually led to our store opening in July 2016.
What appealed to you about Tint World?
Everything Tint World does, I’ve done my entire career. It wasn’t unfamiliar – which meant I’d be able to get up-and-running without having to learn something completely new. Plus, I was working with people I’d known for years and I felt comfortable getting in to business with them.
Has your franchisee experience met expectations?
It has. We do some things a little differently at our store, but that’s the wonderful thing about the Tint World franchise, every market is going to be a little different and I think it’s important to slightly tweak your store’s offerings to the market that you’re in. I spent many years training retailers (just like Tint World) all over the United States, and this gave me the opportunity to start personally practicing all of the techniques I had been teaching retailers for the past 20 years. That’s why we carry a few different brands than the typical Tint World stores and focus a little more of our business on delivering total vehicle customizations, beyond the core product categories. We’re also lucky to have a very talented management team, far beyond myself. Our store manager has been doing this for over 15 years and was recently named one of the Top 12 installers in the entire country by Mobile Electronics Magazine. I truly believe that our lead tinter is one of, if not the best tinters in Central Florida, and he’s great at teaching his techniques to our other employees as well – which allows us to provide extremely high-quality work, especially when it comes to exotic vehicles that other shops may not be comfortable working on.
What is the biggest challenge Barbara and you have faced?
Probably keeping up with the demand. Our store now is physically one of the largest shops in Central Florida, and our schedule is consistently booked up. We are in the process of opening a second location soon, and already have a third store planned right behind that one.
What is your proudest or most memorable moment?
Our proudest moments started the day we opened, and mostly involve our kids and family. Our goal with Tint World was to build something that would be our own, to run as a family and get our kids involved in the business as they get older. With a 2-year-old and a 9-year-old at home (plus a third one on the way!), it’s fun to see them get excited about some of the really cool cars that we build. Our 9-year-old’s favorite thing to do is attend car shows with me, as well as help out at different local events that we sponsor. Even our 2-year-old who has been in the store ever since she was born has started to really love cars. Knowing that we can teach them about business and seeing them take an interest in what we do every day is something that makes us very proud.
What’s the coolest or wildest car you’ve seen in your shop?
That’s a tough question. We see a lot of cool cars and do some pretty wild installs literally every week. From every-day cars, to high-end exotics, we’ve worked on just about everything and helped people to customize their cars exactly the way they want them. Right now, I’m looking out my office window at five Teslas in the shop that we are working on today – that’s quite the sight! We’re doing a really big project on my personal Dodge Viper, which will be a great demo car for our stores. It has about $10,000 worth of JL Audio equipment going in it and is fully customized inside and out, with a full vehicle wrap on the exterior. All of the electrical has been upgraded using Stinger wiring and installation accessories, and every part of the interior is custom built. When that thing is done, it will certainly be one of the wildest cars we’ve ever built. It’s been a fun project, and I am looking forward to getting it completed. We take it to events, but it mostly sits in the install bay, just on the other side of the window from our showroom. It’s the first thing people look at when they walk in so it’s kind of a conversation piece.
What is your personal vehicle?
Not quite as exciting as the Viper, I usually drive my Ford Fusion Hybrid most days. With the Viper’s 10-cylinder engine getting about eight miles a gallon, I figured it helps even things out a bit!
Do you want to name-drop some celebrities who have gotten service at the shop?
Honestly, I’d rather not. There have been Orlando Magic players, pro baseball players, NFL players, as well as local TV and radio personalities whose vehicles we have worked on. They just want to be treated like regular people, so I wouldn’t want to name them. However, we have gone above and beyond to deliver some of these clients a true concierge-level service, such as picking up their vehicles at their homes, and then dropping them back off when our work has been completed. If you really want to know about specific celebrities, during the mid-2000s, I was involved in several projects with MTV’s Pimp My Ride and also helped coordinate a big custom audio/electronics install for Jay Leno’s Eco Jet car. I have a picture of me working on Donald Trump’s Lamborghini from around 2001. I also have a photo showing off an install in 50-Cent’s Pontiac G8, from when I was on the 2008 SEMA episode of the TV Show “Unique Whips” (which aired on the Speed Channel).
Tint World® LLC, is a privately owned franchise chain of independent retail window tinting, mobile electronics, auto accessories and appearance centers. Contact us for information on franchise opportunities or download our franchise kit.