Tractor Tinting: Is it Worth the Trouble?January 12th, 2022 by Chris Collier
Decatur, Texas, is filled with farmland. John Deere, Kubota, Case IH and New Holland dealerships supply the region’s farmers with tractors for cutting and bailing hay. John Little owns All Pro Window Tinting in Decatur and has been cooling down tractors since he began tinting them in 1990.
Up for a Challenge?
Little has tinted an estimated 400 tractors during his 32 years in business, but the venture hasn’t always been profitable. “They’re time-consuming,” Little says. “When I was first doing them, I wasn’t getting paid enough.”
Increased consumer awareness allows Little to charge more for the work, which produces between $1,000 to $1,200 and lasts four to six hours depending on skill. He uses a heat box to demonstrate the performance of ceramic film and standard film. For a proper installation, Little says tinters need to take the tractor apart. That includes seals, hardware, door latches and occasionally more.
“Sometimes, you need to take the whole window out,” Little adds. “In most cases, taking the whole window out is better, especially on the quarter windows and back glass. A lot of tinters don’t want to go to that trouble. They’ll cut around that, and it usually gets a lot of trash and contamination in there.”
David Matias owns No Limit Accessories in Gonzales, Texas, and has tinted an estimated 150 tractors. He averages 20 per year and seconds the validity of Little’s process. “I take everything out,” Matias says. “Even though it’s a piece of equipment working in the field, I like to know it’s going to last. My name is behind it.”
Heather Lee is newer to the segment but still well-versed. She owns Your Tint Girl in Monroe, Ga., 30 minutes from dairy farms and cattle operations. Today, more than 10% of her business comes from farmers. Honest questions have led to dissected equipment.
“I’m honest with my [clients],” Lee says. “‘Are you going to show your tractor or are you going to work out of it?’ 99% of the time, these guys are working out of these. They don’t care if they’re taken completely apart.”
George Ramos, owner of George’s Window Tinting in Modesto, Calif., grew up on a dairy farm and tinted his first tractor for his father’s boss at 20. He’s tinted more than 200 tractors and says installations are more complex now. “Back then, the glass was flat,” Ramos says. “You didn’t have the curves; you didn’t have to worry about shrinking the film like you do now. It was a lot easier to do. . . . A lot of them are like a fishbowl [now].”
Tinting tractors is no easy feat, but various motivations push installers forward. Gonzalo Garcia, owner of PRO Tinting in Roswell, N.M., has been darkening and cooling down the machines for 17 years. The challenge keeps him going.
“My name’s on that tractor,” Garcia says. “I like to see a tractor and say, ‘I tinted that.’ Besides the money, I take pride in what I do. Whenever you do a good job, the word spreads around. They have their inner circle.”
Having established a business near a farm-heavy area, Lee says the lengthy jobs pursued her. “You’re still tinting glass,” Lee says. “There’s more work involved, but it’s rewarding at the end of the day. Once I’m finished and I stand back and see the final product, I’m happy with it. I’ve helped someone.”
Film provides safety, security, privacy and style to homes, businesses, cars—and tractors—throughout the world. Little takes pride in potentially protecting his local community from threats. “You get a lot of farmers that battle skin cancer because they spent a lot of time in the sun,” Little says. “I feel like I’m keeping [farmers] from getting cancer possibly.”
Should shops in rural areas step into the cab and embrace the tractor tinting life? Ramos says it boils down to what you’re seeking.
“It depends on how hard you want to work,” Ramos says. “Do you want to work hard or smart? If you want to work smart, tint cars and houses. The payoff is good if you keep your prices up—you can make good money tinting tractors. I’ve heard [tinters make] $1,000 to $1,500. Your initial investment is a couple hundred dollars.”
Ramos suggest tinting two to three cars and bringing in the same money might be a better option. Little says it comes down to location.
“If you’re in a rural area, yes, because it’s going to come with the territory,” Little adds. “There’s going to be a demand. If you’re in a city and an urban area, there’s no demand for tractors. There are not many people with them unless they own a construction or excavation company. It’s another thing to add to your service if you’re in a rural area.”
What if your shop is distant from farmland? Whether it’s a skid-steer loader, bulldozer or excavator, one-woman show Lee says heavy equipment is a worthwhile alternative.
“These guys appreciate it because they get beat to death in the summer months,” Lee says. “That goes hand in hand with tractors. I think every shop, no matter where they are, should push that if they don’t have a farming community around them. Everybody has heavy equipment around them. I don’t care where you live—there’s construction everywhere.”