MetWest: Breaking Glass Ceilings One Design at a Time

Reimagining spaces from floor to ceiling at Metropolitan West, aka MetWest, a dynamic and innovative shop based in Long Beach, California.

Young, burned out, and eager to explore other professional opportunities, Kelly Taylor possessed the courage to walk away from a steady but stressful corporate career in search of a fresh start in a new city.

At the time, a friend piqued her interest about more women working in construction-related fields, specifically with the Red Line subway in Los Angeles. As trains and buildings became increasingly popular targets for graffiti tagging, she says there was an equally important need for effective removal solutions. Taylor was intrigued, seizing the moment to launch a novel service and make her mark.

“I saw that all these buildings had severely damaged glass from the tagging,” she says. “So, first, I looked at the train lines to see what they were doing, which turned out to be a clear film on the glass, and I thought, ‘Well, I can do that.’”

The business venture took her straight to the top — literally. As Taylor perfected these services on high-rise buildings across the city, she was commissioned for complementary services like applying interior safety film, solar-controlled window tinting, frosting and privacy films for office areas and conference rooms.

“The business diversified naturally for me, with new [requests] turning into organic expansion opportunities,” she says, crediting a willingness to adapt and evolve as the foundation for growth.

Eventually, Taylor steered the business into printing capabilities, investing in a Roland 540 roll-to-roll. Affectionately pet-named Rolanda-Roland, Taylor says. The original printer made it possible to expand further into glass films and wall coverings. From the onset, Taylor was fascinated by experimenting with different ink types and effects. She focused on honing her professional techniques and producing unique finishes.

“At the time, I had no business buying the second and third printer but I thought, I’m going to grow into them,” Taylor says. And grow into them, she did.

The road to success

Throughout the decades, Taylor successfully transformed a small graffiti removal start-up into a premier full-service window film and wall graphics powerhouse known as Metropolitan West (MetWest).

Kelly Taylor, CEO of Metropolitan West (MetWest), at the company’s showrooms and offices in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Regan Dickinson)
Kelly Taylor, CEO of Metropolitan West (MetWest), at the company’s showrooms and offices in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Regan Dickinson)

Founded in 1992, Taylor says MetWest is revered for its premium material sourcing, exceptional product selection, and innovative office solutions. The CEO and serial innovator credits the trifecta for inspiring “breathtaking, comfortable and environmentally-sustainable” workplace settings.

MetWest further channels sophistication and functionality through cutting-edge technology and progressive design — a process internally referred to as WOWification.

For Taylor, there is no better testament of potential than MetWest headquarters in Long Beach, California. The penthouse suite is both spacious and chic, with elegant finishes throughout. From the floors and doors to the walls, Taylor says the former blank canvas showcases the power of exquisite interior design and mirrors the glass ceilings MetWest is committed to shattering.

By setting a higher standard, Taylor says the company can reimagine branding and invest in proprietary techniques that far exceed the ordinary. High-impact designs, superior finishes, and long-lasting results define MetWest.

MetWest Showroom Lobby
The design for the MetWest Showroom lobby flows from the floor to the walls to the ceiling for a 360-degree graphic experience incorporating wall covering, gold metallic vinyl and vinyl with anti-slip laminate.

From architects and interior designers to general contractors and property managers, she says industry professionals across the spectrum are drawn to the MetWest way. Elite Fortune 500 clients like Fox, Amazon, Netflix and Red Bull, for example, appreciate the company’s full package — high energy, quality materials and proven results.

“I don’t think there was one big break; rather, a series of smaller projects that received some notoriety. Then we were trusted with larger projects,” Taylor says, pointing to other prominent collaborations with TikTok, FedEx and Disney.

“[Before long], companies felt more comfortable referring us to others, and we started to scale the business accordingly.”

Taylor applauds passionate staff members as the difference makers, pointing to around 30 in-house employees, plus outside manufacturer representatives, contractors, and installers, all of whom breathe the company’s core values and prioritize the customer experience.

MetWest Showroom Ocean Mural
This mural wall covering at the MetWest Showroom incorporates UV Spot printing for a mixed gloss and matte finish.

She emphasizes that no matter the client or project, MetWest is a long-term partner — not a short-term solution.

“We’ve truly built our value proposition and reputation for unmatched quality [from the ground up],” Taylor says. “At MetWest, we refuse to use cheap, inferior products to save money.”

Setting the benchmark

Today, the company designs, supplies and installs wall coverings and graphics, solar control films and decorative or specialty films for glass, walls, floors, ceilings and doors. There is no material, technique or finish that is off the table with MetWest, from spot and layered printing to large-scale building wraps.

Amare Custom Gradient
A custom-printed gradient on PVC-free glass film for Amare features a vivid purple gradient as well as a logo and typography to reflect the company’s branding.

Taylor says the glass film and wall covering categories constitute a majority of the business revenue — at 60 and 30 percent, respectively.

Decorative films are designed to enhance glass walls and windows, simultaneously providing privacy and adding pizazz to a workspace. MetWest’s extensive offerings and finishes, from popular gradients to ombres, turn standard office areas into admirable works of art. Clients can choose from a variety of classic and modern stock films, or collaborate on a custom design. Most MetWest clients choose to create a unique custom-branded project.

Taylor points to an investment in white ink technology as a key reason for growth within the category.

“Printing on clear film is very difficult for a long-term solution,” she explains. “We needed to come up with something that would last a long time, plus hold up to abuse and cleaning. It took a while, but we figured it out and have been printing white as a specialty for years.”

MetWest also boasts custom mural wall coverings, which immediately transform a space from bare and bleak to bold and beautiful. MetWest serves up numerous large-scale designs, including landscapes, abstract art, and geometric shapes. Whether clients desire a riveting focal point or an entire accent wall, MetWest offers a magnetic, metallic, PVC-free or spot-UV solution to spec.

In addition, Taylor underscores the company’s patented Peerhatch technology as a writable surface — a completely reimagined traditional whiteboard concept.

Edmunds HQ Peerhatch Wall
The Peerhatch Dry-Erase Wall Covering for Edmunds is custom-printed with Edmunds branding. This project called for 10,000 square ft of writable material throughout the space.

With Peerhatch, clients can leave writing up for months — even permanent marker — and it will still wipe clean without leaving behind unsightly smudges. Peerhatch is designed to cover any size space, from small offices to entire buildings. Clients can choose a preferred product backing: Type II is similar to regular wallpaper and is applied with wallpaper paste, while the adhesive-backed option allows for faster installation. Meanwhile, a magnetic backing adds extra functionality to any workspace.

Taylor says the six-story NFL Media building in Los Angeles is a fine example of how multiple materials, products, techniques, and finishes come together to achieve a uniquely unified look and feel. MetWest collaborated alongside 25-plus designers at NFL to carry the vision to reality, applying a custom frosted finish in the conference rooms, Peerhatch in the collaboration areas, and a 600-foot wall covering featuring a slick black background and high-impact imagery.

Looking ahead, Taylor points to gel technology as a game changer due to its seemingly indestructible nature.

“I can literally soak a printed piece of wall covering in a bowl of bleach overnight, remove it in the morning and still have an unchanged image; the color has not faded. Baking soda, toilet bowl cleaner, even Draino — we have not found anything that can destroy the durability of the gel on glass film or wallcoverings,” she explains. “In addition to being a comparable product, it’s also more affordable.”

Leading by sample

Taylor recalls the challenges of kickstarting the graffiti removal venture and still applies those valuable professional lessons today.

Sample Boxes
MetWest’s sample boxes give customers a good feel — literally — for the materials that may be used on their project, for all types of applications, from glass to ceilings.

“I remember hiring a local sign shop to do work for me, but I was always operating on his schedule because other customers came first. I quickly realized that I didn’t like the dynamic, and that’s what motivated me to buy my first printer,” Taylor says, emphasizing the impact of investing within.

“[Today], we have oversight management of the entire process — from design and production to the installation,” she adds. “Our team helps with the entire phasing of a project, including estimating, field management and elevations.”

While most companies send a small sample during the strike-off phase, MetWest ensures a more realistic experience to best demonstrate the quality and application of the product on a sizeable project example.

Custom glass films are sampled on sections of the requested material to show the color, opacity and/or pattern. With gradients, clients receive 6″ wide strips to maximize the full height of the gradient for testing. Likewise, for mural wall coverings, MetWest prints large 24″ × 30″ sections at full scale in order to accurately depict the final print quality.

RealD Wall Covering
The visual star of the RealD’s Boulder, Colorado, space is this massive two story mural wall covering, installed over walls of varying depths, a mezzanine, and ceiling.

Once a project moves through vision, design, and various stages of measurement, it is teed up for production. The 8,000 square-foot production and warehousing facility is conveniently located near headquarters.

Skilled laborers spend their days immersed in precise mathematics that transform raw materials into remarkable final form. Mere inches separate good and great results — and the distance between good and great is people. Taylor points to certain soft skills as cultivating a positive workplace culture.

“It all starts with my attitude about things, right? I don’t like micromanaging; it takes a lot of time,” she says. “Instead, I operate from the perspective of ‘Have this done, and how you do it is up to you.’ This approach breeds independence and empowerment. I want staff to think for themselves, practice time management and find solutions to get projects done right the first time.”

The result is a well-trained and tightknit production crew that is versatile and knowledgeable in assisting across multiple departments.

Taylor says people, processes and promises define the MetWest Advantage — the company’s unwavering commitment to deliver an exceptional experience from the instant a client interacts with staff to the completion of a project.

TikTok Glass Film
For TikTok’s Los Angeles headquarters, this design incorporated two different types of dichroic glass film as well as black vinyl.

“The MetWest Advantage is an assurance we offer confidently and consistently, which facilitates the retention of our clients, fostering their satisfaction over the years,” Taylor says.

The business mogul encourages small and large independent shops to operate with the same spirit and commitment — an authentic, meaningful pledge to outwork and outperform the rest.

Stefanie Galeano-Zalutko

Stefanie Galeano-Zalutko

Stefanie Galeano-Zalutko

Stefanie Galeano-Zalutko is the president/CEO of Zalutko Business Services, Inc., a marketing agency based in Central Florida. She can be reached at szalutko@zalutkobusiness.com.

View all articles by Stefanie Galeano-Zalutko  

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