Atlantic Pinstriping & Vehicle Wraps serves up a triple threat: custom-designed vehicle wraps, premium paint protection film, as well as hand-drawn pinstriping and lettering services for customers across the automotive, marine, and motorcycle market segments. Franchise owner Mike Montemurro hangs his hat on uncompromised quality, from employing highly-experienced staff and investing in modern equipment to only offering trusted name brands and materials.
“I won’t [sacrifice] quality or compete on price – it’s a race to zero with some of these shops. While we’re not the cheapest around, I can sleep at night knowing we did the job right,” he says, noting the business carries industry-leading certifications and honors a lifetime warranty on hand-drawn pinstriping and lettering.
Montemurro takes pride in and stands by the shop’s work. In return, loyal, repeat customers are willing to join the 4-6 week waitlist to ensure a positive experience. Over the years, he says a quality reputation earned Atlantic Pinstriping & Vehicle Wraps “a good mix” of enthusiast, dealership, body shop, and commercial patronage across five franchise locations servicing Charlotte, North Carolina, and surrounding areas.
The owner notes the company continues to prosper, growing its customer base despite ongoing economic and supply chain woes. He credits grit, vision, and the willingness to pivot as central to the business’s longevity.
Montemurro learned the value of a hard day’s work at a young age, pumping gas and sweeping shop floors by 12 years old. At the ripe age of 21, he sought to turn a passion for the automotive industry into a proper business venture, opening a body shop and putting his bourgeoning entrepreneurial skills to the test. Before long, Montemurro discovered a talent for hand-drawn pinstriping and lettering. The dying art not only earned him “street cred” among enthusiast vehicle owners but also solid business relationships with the highest volume dealerships in Long Island, New York.
Years later, Montemurro leaned on his solid reputation to pursue budding business opportunities south of the Mason-Dixon line. He flew to Charlotte, North Carolina, every other weekend for a year before deciding to take the plunge full-time.
When it came time to launch a new shop in 1994, affectionately named Monte’s, he recognized the industry was evolving. During the heyday era of NHRA, hot rods were mostly pinstriped and lettered by hand. While a vast majority of cars were still striped the old-fashioned way in New York, Montemurro noticed decal-type applications starting to rise in popularity among shifting demographics down south – though not without pitfalls.
Early paint protection film was rigid and finicky to handle, guaranteed to yellow or crack, and “a disaster” to remove, he explains. Today, both vehicle wraps and paint protection film are noticeably higher quality, wildly popular among diverse consumers, and relatively economical alternatives to customize for personal enjoyment or mobile marketing efforts.
Armed with a foundational background in bodywork and a reputable skill set in pinstriping and lettering, Montemurro prepared to capitalize on the customization opportunities vehicle wraps and paint protection film presented. In 2003, he franchised Monte’s as Atlantic Pinstriping & Vehicle Wraps, investing in premium talent, brands, and graphics equipment.
Investing in the future
While all Atlantic Pinstriping & Vehicle Wraps locations still pay homage to Montemurro’s hand-drawn roots, the Greensboro and Williamsburg shops also specialize in custom-designed full or partial-wrap installations. These applications run the gamut from trendy color-change options and chrome delete to spot graphics for vehicle enthusiasts and commercial customers alike.
“We always had vinyl on the menu, but in a different way and definitely not to the extent we do today,” says Montemurro, noting vehicle wrap revenue increased 500% since expanding the service.
In fact, the original Indian Trail location drives the largest vehicle wrap sales volume across the franchise. What started as Montemurro and a helper in a small shop is now a full-time staff of 14 in a newly built 8,000-square-foot facility featuring top-of-the-line equipment throughout.
With two Roland TrueVIS VG2-640 printers on site, the design team can access comprehensive color choices, plus increase print and cut accuracy for true unattended production. Montemurro points to the Creaform 3D scanner with ExactFlat software as a game changer in turning 3D vehicle scans into flat 2D digital patterns which, he says, provides the team with an advantage many shops do not have.
Featuring simple, ease-of-use operation, Atlantic Pinstriping & Vehicle Wraps’ Summa Inc. DC3 Plus produces a range of full-color, contour-cut graphics. The high-quality prints are applied directly to vinyl with no need for lamination due to the printer’s thermal resin technology. In addition to contour-cut labels, the Summa DC3 also tiles large-format prints for large projects like fleet vehicle wraps (all in easy-to-handle 91cm wide panels). Plus, its six-station auto ribbon changer allows users to combine process, spot color, and metallic foil printing to yield a top-quality finished product. Montemurro’s company also carries a Summa DC5 printer cutter, Summa S2 T160 vinyl cutter, and Summa F1612 flatbed cutter.
For roll-feed cutting, Atlantic Pinstriping & Vehicle Wraps uses a Graphtec FC9000 Series cutting plotter. A popular choice of finishing solution in the automotive industry, this flagship series is Graphtec’s most advanced offering to date and features a newly developed feeding system and cutting head to ensure better final cut precision.
With an eye on productivity, Montemurro also employs the use of a Trotec Speedy 360 Laser, the fastest laser engraving and cutting machine on the market. An easy-to-use KALA Laminator further maximizes the shop’s profitability by providing unsupervised roll-to-roll laminating, adjustable speed, and very limited waste when loading media. A Generac water-cooled backup generator sits quietly in the background, waiting to serve as reliable standby power for the entire facility should the southern heat prove too strong for the electrical grid.
Raising the bar
Montemurro says a lower barrier to entry and price slashing undoubtedly opened the door for amateurs to diminish quality in the graphics industry. However, he believes quality name brands and proven expertise always turn out to be a winning differentiator.
The owner touts Avery and KPMF as premium suppliers and “awesome partners,” stressing how the former, in particular, offers notable printing variety — from matte and satin to gloss black finishes and more. “The prints, install, and longevity of the product are all great,” he says.
In addition to offering premium products, all Atlantic Pinstriping & Vehicle Wraps technicians are Avery and Lowen certified, as well as 3M preferred installers. The certification holds a shop to a higher standard, Montemurro emphasizes. The business also hosts four Avery classes per year on-site, two of which award certifications to attendees. Such education, he says, separates amateurs from professionals.
“If you don’t have the skill sets to pass these tests, then you get failed — plain and simple,” he says. “When customers see you’re an Avery-level installer, they know [they’re receiving] quality at the highest degree.”
Case in point: experienced technicians know if a product comes into contact with extreme heat or is overstretched in areas, its lifespan could be affected. The biggest impact is the costly damage to the vehicle if the product is not installed correctly, including excessive glue, knife cuts, or chips in the paint.
“One customer decided to have a vehicle wrapped by my competition because it was $150 cheaper,” says Montemurro. “He ended up back at my shop to fix it — costing him time and additional money.”
“When you take the time to do it right, those problems don’t happen,” he continues. “If a customer chose to remove our wrap or paint protection film, for example, there would be no excessive clean-up, knife cuts, or pulled paint. The car would look just as great as when it was purchased — and that really tells a story.
With a commitment to premium quality and customer service, Montemurro chooses to lean into his natural ingenuity and decades-long experience during challenging times like the current economic downturn, supply chain disruptions, and labor shortages.
Montemurro says there is never a lack of resources, only a lack of resourcefulness. In addition to maintaining a diversified business portfolio, the company ordered in bulk during COVID to secure satisfactory inventory levels and, at times, used shop staff and machinery to produce personal protection equipment.
“My mindset was that I refused to cave,” he says. “Unfortunately, sometimes loyalty had to take a backseat in order to survive. There were times when we had to get product from other suppliers. [Likewise,] if colors weren’t available, we’d mix and print them in-house — match something really close, run a sample, wrap the car, and just keep on rolling.”
Porsche wrap project
The cool cars, custom designs, and expertly installed vehicle wraps at Atlantic Pinstriping & Vehicle Wraps circulate buzz — enough to catch the attention of a race driver who pulsed Montemurro about collaborating on a special vehicle project.
Email introductions quickly morphed into a formal assessment of the 2021 Porsche 718 GT4 Club Sport MR designed in a high-tech 3D environment. The plan: to bring virtual reality to life and compete the finished product at renowned Porsche events across the country.
“This isn’t a weekend race car at a small, local track. It’s a high-end car made for high-end racing,” says Montemurro, noting how excited the team was about the scope and complexity of the project.
The vehicle was immediately transported from Virginia International Raceway via an enclosed trailer, after which Montemurro’s team promptly got to work painstakingly reconstructing the 3D imagery so the artwork could be finalized, cut, and printed for installation using the company’s Roland TrueVIS VG2-640 printer.
Atlantic Pinstriping & Vehicle Wraps was not only challenged to recreate the original design in its entirety but also make appropriate alterations to snug-fit the vehicle’s curves. Being a track car, the vehicle sustains far more abuse than normal. In a perfect world, paint protection film dons a 10-year warranty; however, the conditions in which the Porsche is slated to compete are anything but ordinary.
As such, lead project technician Michael Montemurro Jr. sought to incorporate maximum protection. He turned to Avery Dennison Chrome, Avery MPI 1105 printed materials, and FTek Dyno Shield for the tough job ahead. First, the vehicle was completely wrapped in paint protection film — edges and all. Next, the vehicle was rewrapped, this time in chrome. Custom-printed graphics were overlayed, then another round of paint protection film was applied to best protect all carbon fiber elements and graphics.
Junior admits the rear quarter panels were particularly difficult to wrap, given their unique shape and intricacy. Leaning on his training, he expertly hid exposed seams to create a long-lasting “optically-pleasing” install.
With Junior mainly working solo on the installation, the project took 7-10 days.
The team agreed that the vehicle itself, in addition to the product used to dress it and the finite details required to complete the project, made the tall task all the more special. Overcoming the challenges of chrome was a particularly rewarding aspect of the installation for Junior.
“Seeing it come together as a true race car was very cool. It’s a real showpiece, and the customer was thrilled with it,” he says.
Looking ahead, Montemurro is laser-focused on maintaining his core business — but hopeful the unique opportunity to collaborate in the race scene will stimulate similar project discussions.