3M Dealers Are Uneasy About the Manufacturer’s Latest Move

February 11th, 2015 by Casey Flores

A deal to become an exclusive window film provider to a fast-growing, Franchise 500 company would normally be a good thing for a manufacturer. But the results of a recent move by 3M are yet to be seen.

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3M will become Window Genie’s exclusive film dealer.

3M and Window Genie, the Cincinnati-based professional window washing and tinting franchise, have signed a contract that will make 3M the exclusive window film provider for the franchise’s more than 200 locations.

The move has some authorized 3M dealers nationwide worried about how it will affect their particular markets.

“I’m really discouraged by what happened,” says Brent Williams, owner of Energy Control Consultants, a 3M-exclusive dealer. “In essence, 3M has set up another dealer. It’s a competing channel.”

Mark Keesling, 3M’s U.S. business manager for window films, denies that claim.

“We’re not setting them up as 3M authorized dealers,” he says. “This is not about adding more dealers and we will not include Window Genies on our dealer locator. They’re just simply able to offer their customers a specific line of film supplied by 3M.”

Keesling explains the move was made so that 3M could better penetrate the residential market, which Window Genie often services. “They have a well-established customer base … The vast majority of their business, from what Window Genie tells us, is residential,” he says, adding on that the market is so untapped, there’s room for both 3M dealers and Window Genie.

As for commercial jobs, Window Genie franchisees will be limited in their tinting capacities.

“They get into lighter commercial installations [but] they’re limited to doing only small jobs. They can’t do anything above 500 square feet,” says Keesling, citing the contract between the organizations.

Window Genie has previously offered Eastman brands of window film, including Huper Optik, Suntek and Llumar. In an effort to streamline its product offerings, the franchisor worked with 3M to offer one of its product lines, says Ken Fisk, vice president of franchise development and support at Window Genie.

“We wanted to be able to have one film company to get our film from. We chose 3M because of the brand—they’re a national brand and so are we,” he says, making it clear they are targeting “mostly” the residential market. “We’re not interested in going to war with window film dealers [but instead] hope to work with 3M dealers on large commercial jobs.”

Fisk says he doesn’t see it getting controversial. “We talked to our franchise partners and told them this isn’t a bidding war. Are we ever going to compete with 3M dealers? I’m sure we will, but if it becomes a bad-mouthed trashing session, it’s not going to work well for [our franchisees].”

3M dealer voiced concerns—particularly with how the company made them aware of this initiative.

“The really infuriating thing about this was the whole deal was put together, executed and then the dealers were told, ‘This is going to happen.’ The management simply pulled the trigger,” one major 3M dealer, who asked to remain anonymous, told Window Film magazine. “What I see happening with 3M is they’re trying to disconnect themselves from the end-user.”

The film Window Genie will offer will be part of 3M’s Envision line and will be available in mid- to late-March. Though Window Genie won’t have “exclusive” access to this film line, Keesling says, “We currently have no plans to offer this residential product line to other groups like Window Genie.”

3M will hold a conference call Thursday for its dealers to address any concerns they may have.

This article is from Focus on Film, the weekly e-newsletter that covers the latest news regarding window film and related products, including paint protection film. Click HERE to sign up—there is no charge. Interested in a deeper dive? Free subscriptions to Window Film magazine in print or digital format are available. Subscribe at no charge HERE.

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