As vehicle-wrapping guru Justin Pate transitions from years of heavy wrapping to the classroom, he shares his experiences and spotlights the latest trends in an exclusive interview with Restyling.
Pate is an Avery Specialist and 3M-certified graphics instructor that specializes in vehicle graphics installations. He is the creator of the Universal Graphic Installation System (UGIS), which allows installers to individually wrap almost any vehicle in less than five hours, or as quick as two hours for cargo vans. UGIS is the basis for Pate’s workshops and is endorsed by Avery-Dennison in North America. He co-founded and currently teaches the installation training program at the Avery-Mutoh School of Wrap.
Tell us a little about your background. How did you get into wrapping?
I started wrapping in New York City in 1996. My fourth-floor neighbor was in applied graphics and asked me to work for him. I worked with him for a year, then went out on my own, focusing mainly on car wrapping, which was really in its infancy back then.
What attracted you to the trade?
What really drew me to car wrapping in particular is how satisfying it is in a challenging but fun way. You always have to be on your game when you are wrapping-from cleaning properly to alignment to cutting. Everything has to be spot-on, which requires a focus both mentally and physically. Also, I love the fact that when the wrap is finished, I can go home. The length of my workday depends on how hard I want to work. I love having this freedom as it gives me flexibility in scheduling, and I can control my work flow.
What are some of the most notable/favorite projects?
I have been very fortunate to be part of some very cool projects over the years but, at this moment, two stand out. One was for an energy company in the Netherlands that rebranded their entire fleet of 1,200 vehicles. I was hired to help do the installation. For six months, my part in the project was to wrap the backs of the vans. No cleaning or prepping-just wrapping four days a week for eight hours a day. It was somehow very relaxing since, for most of my career, I wrapped a different vehicle in a new location every day. Needless to say, I can wrap the back of a Sprinter [Van] in my sleep now.
The other project that I’m thinking of is actually the whole teaching platform that I’ve been building for the past five years. It’s been amazing to see it grow and expand both in terms of the quality/focus and how popular it’s become. It’s so nice to put as much time and passion into building a solid instructional platform and see people really get the concept of wrapping cars with the highest quality and durability, while doing it super efficiently. I think people are really seeing the benefits of my “speedwrapping” concept, which is great because it is helping people make more money.
“For six months, my part in the project was to wrap the backs of the vans. No cleaning or prepping-just wrapping four days a week for eight hours a day. It was somehow very relaxing since, for most of my career, I wrapped a different vehicle in a new location every day. Needless to say, I can wrap the back of a Sprinter [Van] in my sleep now.”
What are some new trends you’re seeing in vehicle wrapping?
I think the concept of paint wrapping is really starting to get some momentum across the globe. I’ve seen the paint wrap market in Europe really explode now that it’s been in the marketplace for five years, and I can see it really picking up in the U.S. I think the big sell for changing the color of the car with a paint wrap film is how it significantly increases the resale value of the vehicle since it protects the OEM paint.
What can vehicle wrappers do to stay on top of the latest trends?
As far as keeping up with trends, I think it’s a matter of setting aside an hour or two per week to go through the various blogs/websites to see what people are doing. Right now, chrome is hot, and black matte is fading. Satin finishes seem to be coming on. It’s all about keeping diligent with the social media.
What other advice do you have for vehicle wrappers and auto accessory dealers?
My advice for installers and people in the auto industry is to really focus on quality and durability. When people apply really bad installs or use super cheap film that fades quickly, it hurts everyone in the industry. It turns current clients off, and potential new clients see something that isn’t worth putting their money into.
Taking the time to really understand what the film can and cannot do in terms of handling recessed areas and compound curves can make a big difference. I think taking a hands-on workshop, especially one focused on paint wrap films, can really help intermediate and advanced installers understand the install differences between gloss, matte, metallic, carbon and chrome films.
What is the next step in your career?
At this point in my career, I have made the change from installing on a daily basis to teaching workshops and doing demos at sign shows. I have a real passion for teaching and, after 17 years and over 3,000 vehicles under my belt, I welcome this new platform as a natural progression in my career. I still love to wrap but it’s equally gratifying to teach 17 students how to properly wrap a bumper or cut a perfect corner because I feel that this makes the industry stronger. I also enjoy making instructional videos so I’m currently working on a new project that builds on where my DVDs left off.
To learn more about Justin Pate, visit http://www.justinpate.net/about-justin/.