The following are some of the ways to get in touch with each other:here’s a mecca of car dealerships along U.S. Route 67 in North Little Rock — neat rows of polished windshields gleaming in the sun, billboards that shout “Hassle-Free Buying!” and “72 Months, 0% Financing!” What you might not see behind all the retail clamor, though, are the colonies of storefronts and warehouses that line the rear of the dealership lots — transportation, shipping and marine businesses where you can add a heated seat to your used vehicle or replace the rain-worn canopy on your speedboat. One such business is D&D Sun Control, the winners of the Best Window Tinting category in our annual Best of Arkansas poll and, evidently, the place to go if you wanna wrap your ride in sweet pearlescent purple vinyl.
Evans Dietz The Big Desk is the front desk, where he has been for over 25 years. He’s a North Little Rock native — “Dogtown, born and bred,” he said — and his introduction to the business wasn’t typical. Most window tinting companies start out in home garages, but Dietz’s dad owned a lighting company that used a product called 3M, and when Dietz got wind that there was a thirsty market for 3M window tinting film in the area, he had an in.
“After I went to acting school and tried playing professional tennis,” Dietz said casually, pausing to take a five-second call when his phone began to whisper the opening lines of “Ice Ice Baby.” He liked acting, he said, but after dabbling in the industry — the Tom Cruise drama “Born on the Fourth of July,” notably, and a 1989 flick called “Teen Vamp” — he found the acting world “really terrible,” and a shoulder injury kept him from pursuing tennis.
Dietz asked me if I knew 3M. He told me that 3M makes 64,000 products including Post-It Notes. “They sponsor the Olympics. They sponsor car races and golf tournaments.” Dietz seemed like he’d know; his office walls are lined with golf tournament plaques, and a signed Tiger Woods photo hangs above his desk. “The biggest thing is 3M knows how to make things stick.”
Over in D&D’s garage bay, a crew of three did a silent and well-choreographed routine around a gray Honda CR-V, alternating between the car’s windshield and a giant “peel board,” a transparent panel mounted vertically on two poles, like a chalkboard. The crew used the panel as a staging area to lay out the window film for final application. Dietz gestured to the man hovering over the windshield with a heat gun and said, “Smile, G!” G paused for a second, then allowed the corners of his mouth to turn up, barely. “You gotta be a certain kinda person” to do this, Dietz said. “Detail-oriented.”
“G’s been here 15 years,” Dietz said. D&D doesn’t have high turnover in its ranks, he added. The business employs 18 people and, Dietz said, “We take care of ’em. It’s super cliche, but we’re a family as much as we are a business. We’ve watched everybody’s kids grow up.”
By the time the window film gets to this stage, it’s been prepped meticulously, as have the car windows themselves, squeegeed till they’re squeaky clean so that no imperfections linger under the film. A $10,000 Roland printer in the corner had plotted a blueprint for the shape of the window film based on the car’s make and model, cut it to specifications with a razor blade and churned it out so that G and his team could shrink it to fit snugly against the window with the help of some adhesive. Dietz had to cut the window film himself when he started his work.
In another bay at Dietz’s neighboring vinyl wrap business, Roll’N Wrapz, a FedEx truck sat, freshly wrapped in its signature white with the arrow logo, while an employee on a stepstool applied “chrome delete” to a Denali, hiding its silver window trim and giving it a sleeker, darker profile.
Wrapping the FedEx trucks is a huge contract, but Dietz’s crew does plenty of work beyond its climate-controlled bays. These days, they’re doing a lot of business wrapping the exteriors of buildings in something called “safety and security film,” a bullet-resistant material designed to deter forced entry and help prevent or slow down active shooters. They’d just done some window wrapping in the Beebe School District and at Little Rock’s eStem charter school, Dietz said, plus school buildings in Carlisle and Bryant. Dietz showed a YouTube video of a 3M Scotchshield Ultra S800 product demo. Split screens were shown with an armed man wearing a ski mask firing at a panel. The bullet on the left shattered the window, and the man was able to punch out just enough glass for him to quickly enter. The bullet on the right punctured the glass, but it remained intact even after the intruder kicked it with his boot several times. The security film stymied a theft attempt at D&D, Dietz said, even after 13 hits with a crowbar. It halted two break-in attempts at Sissy’s Log Cabin, Dietz told me, and even withstands tornadic winds. Dietz explained that hospitals use the film so they don’t have to evacuate their ICUs in the event of tornado warnings. D&D’s wrap on the windows at Baumans Fine Men’s Clothing withstood the March 31 tornado, preventing glass shards from scattering across the shop.
Other jobs are smaller — much smaller. Dietz picked up a coffee thermos embossed with a church’s logo beside the words “Every soul matters to God,” one of many novelty items D&D can wrap. Dietz’s own ride is currently decked out in the aforementioned pearlescent purple, complete with a laser “puddle light” on the driver’s side door that projects the words “Big Pimpin’” — a nickname Dietz’s employees came up with — onto the ground when you open it to climb in.
Meanwhile, I was doing the math on what it’d take to get a tint job on my battered, decade-old Prius. Window tint blocks 99.9% UV rays. Arkansas law mandates that the darkest legal tint for cars and sedans is 25% on the front and back side windows (meaning that 25% of the light passes through) and 10% on the rear window, but a doctor’s note can exempt you from those restrictions. “If you’re a lupus patient, we can make your car as dark as you want,” Dietz said. 3M’s website has a section titled “This sunblock doesn’t come in a bottle,” detailing its window film’s Seal of Recommendation from The Skin Cancer Foundation. “If you live in Arkansas and you don’t tint your windows,” Dietz said, “you’re just silly.”