After decades of commitment to the window film industry, Window Film Depot is excited to announce that it is turning 30! To celebrate this business milestone and Window Film Day, we sat down with Jeff Franson, FutureVu President, and Krissy Mosby, Window Film Depot President, to reflect on their journeys within the company, their entrepreneurship, and the window film industry over the years.
From Modest Beginnings: The Start of Window Film Depot
Raised by a family of successful entrepreneurs, Jeff Franson always thought he’d run his own business. Yet jump-starting a career in window film was never a part of the original agenda.
While at college, Jeff was studying on a pre-law track; after he learned what attorneys actually did every day at work, however, he quickly came to the conclusion that law was not a field he was excited to work in. From there, Jeff shifted gears.
Following in his family’s footsteps, Jeff determined that the life of an entrepreneur offered excitement, freedom, and innovation. While some would have shied away from the risk of building a new business from the ground up, Jeff embraced the opportunity to capitalize on product gaps in the market. Once he decided that he wanted to build an impactful and successful brand, he drew from previous experiences while exploring potential business ideas.
“I was always comfortable working on homes and buildings,” Jeff explains. “An opportunity presented itself in Atlanta, and I took it. I started to work with my brother on a home services business.”
Eventually, Jeff and his brother discovered an opening in the market for window film.
“Ultimately, we ran across a really cool product: window film;…people loved it, and they didn’t know where to buy it. So, we kinda ran across it by mistake, and recognized it as a nice long-term business opportunity that we pursued.” With this, the first evolution of Window Film Depot was born.
Initial Growth and Expansion
Window Film Depot found immediate success. Jeff’s hunch that there was a market for window film was proven to be correct, and he discovered his opening at the perfect time.
“We went into Atlanta, which was an extremely strong market for what we do,” Jeff describes, “especially in the 90s and early 2000s, the home market being as explosive as it was. Every day we’d have successes in the field…we’d go out to neighborhoods, knock on doors, and get business.”
As sales rose, so did the need to hire a larger team. Jeff marks Window Film Depot’s early ability to recruit talented and driven individuals as one of the brand’s first major wins, serving as an indication that the company was on the right track.
One such talented hire? Krissy Mosby, who joined Window Film Depot as an intern in 2005. Similar to Jeff, Krissy wasn’t originally on a path to window film; she thought she would work in medicine, and had been completing her prerequisites for medical school before taking an opportunity with WFD.
“I started working answering phones, stuffing envelopes, doing mailers, stuff like that,” says Krissy. As she continued through school, her responsibilities increased. “(By the time) I graduated, I was doing sales, and even managing one of the small accounts we had. Jeff offered me a full-time position right out of college. Starting to work instead of going right back into school sounded a lot better at the time!”
Thus began a period of foundational growth for the company; with valued team members and an established local market, it was time to expand even further.
Adapting to a Changing Market
Boosted by a young, determined team and modern capabilities, Window Film Depot rapidly transformed with the times, leveraging new innovations in technology to outpace its competitors.
“We were young in an older man’s business, quite frankly,” explains Jeff. “The internet, early on, was the biggest accelerator of our growth. We employed tools more rapidly than our counterparts…we got out front very quickly, with local landing pages in 40-50 markets around the country.”
Ebbs and flows in markets also drastically changed Window Film Depot’s business model, inadvertently breeding expansion. While largely a local company up until 2007, the housing crash forced Window Film Depot to shift from residential to commercial business. Krissy experienced this shift firsthand.
“Back when I joined, our company was very local here in Atlanta…we were over 95% residential. We started to see a need for a national presence; people had multiple locations, and wanted us to take care of all of them.”
“Around 2008, is really when our business changed. Fast forward, and now we’re over 90% commercial. We’re one of the largest 3M dealers in the country, servicing national accounts.”
This tremendous growth led Window Film Depot to be recognized as the #1 3M Window Film Dealer in the US for multiple years. Even Jeff didn’t foresee this type of growth; according to him, he expected that their team was capable of achieving it, but gaining the title was never a goal. Instead, earning that recognition was a byproduct of Window Film Depot’s commitment to their customers.
It was also around this time that Krissy gained a more major role within Window Film Depot, planting the seeds for the company’s leadership in the future.
“Jeff, who was the President at the time, stayed behind after work one day and asked me if I wanted to become one of the owners of Window Film Depot,” Krissy recalls. “It showed I was valued, and that he wanted me to be a part of the company permanently.”
Impact Security, FutureVu, and the Future of Window Film Depot
As business continued to expand, Window Film Depot began to run into client needs they couldn’t yet handle. With a team full of entrepreneurs, Window Film Depot saw these needs as opportunities to innovate, resulting in the creation of Window Film Depot’s sister brands.
Take, for example, Impact Security, LLC. Window Film Depot customers began experiencing severe smash & grab attacks on their stores; traditional window film wasn’t cutting it. After combing for solutions, Jeff recognized another gap in the market.
“We didn’t see what we thought we needed, partnered with engineers, and invented retrofit security shields,” he explains. From there, Impact Security branched off and became a separate entity from Window Film Depot.
After founding several more successful brands, Jeff created FutureVu to be a single, holistic parent company. While brands such as Window Film Depot would still operate on their own, FutureVu would oversee all company operations, searching for other brands to add to the family.
Today, the FutureVu umbrella encapsulates a number of diverse brands, including Window Film Depot, Impact Security, CoolVu, and LongVu Wholesale Company. Although Window Film Depot was once a group of up-and-comers, Jeff explains, they are now industry leaders, a successful model that others seek to replicate.
“8-10 years ago we went from the young guns who were pushing too hard in a lot of people’s minds, to ‘Wow, these guys have done something special and they’re willing to share.’ No longer am I a young gun, but I’m right in the middle as a forty-something-year-old…I’m considered one of the older guys!”
Window Film Depot: A Pioneer of Female Leadership in Window Film
While Jeff leads FutureVu, Krissy has taken the helm as president of Window Film Depot.
She’s grateful for concentrated internal efforts to support her growth as a professional, especially in such a male-dominated industry.
“(Window Film Depot) never limited any opportunity that came my way, or any opportunity within the company…I was never told no,” explains Krissy. “I was always brought new opportunities based on what I had achieved…they would never leave me out because I was a woman, or new, or anything like that.”
From the company’s start, Window Film Depot has relied on contributions from dedicated women. During early pushes for sales, Jeff’s wife, Hanna, was instrumental in getting the ball rolling.
“My wife, we’ve been together for over 25 years…she and her girlfriends would rollerblade around neighborhoods with flyers,” recalls Jeff. “It wasn’t just me out there, it was a team.”
Even with such a supportive work environment, breaking into the construction industry (or any male-dominated field) isn’t easy for female professionals. Krissy gave specific advice for women looking to succeed like she has.
“Don’t let yourself be intimidated by being the only woman in the room. If at first, it seems like you’re getting pushed back for being a woman, stand strong in your opinions. Be knowledgeable, and you’ll gain the respect of anyone in a conversation.”
Today, Krissy hopes to lead the charge on growing Window Film Depot even further and maintain the positive work culture that kept her on board for so long in the first place.
“There’s always room for growth and improvement in every aspect of the business…continuing to maintain our company values, and striving to make the office a fun and safe work environment. I’ve been with the business for over 15 years…so many of our employees are 5+, 8+ employees of WFD.”
Closing Advice From Jeff to Young Entrepreneurs
To bring things to a close, we asked Jeff to offer words of wisdom to other young entrepreneurs looking to run a business of their own as successful as Window Film Depot. According to Jeff, it’s essential not to fret the small stuff.
“Control the things you can control, and don’t let the things you can’t control worry you or bother you, even though it might be expensive…things are going to happen that are out of your control, and if you sweat every detail you’ll have a heart attack. Focus on blocking and tackling, and you should be able to survive.”
As the past 30 years has proven, Jeff has taken his own advice in stride, exemplifying outstanding leadership with strong leaders such as Jeff and Krissy at the helm, working in tandem to support innovation and drive success in the company. We look forward to another 30 prosperous years of Window Film Depot!