FORT MYERS, Fla. — In a time where many of us feel the pressure of getting knocked down, one man’s story shows us how unexpected loss sometimes leads to life-changing gain.
For Ronald Tape, his work is art.
He’s well-known in the community for his craft: window tinting.
It’s a skill he learned as a teenager, after growing up as a child who faced serious life challenges.
“My mom was on drugs. My dad was in prison.”
The Southwest Florida native says despite those kinds of odds that often lead kids to drop out of school, he graduated from Fort Myers High School.
He headed north to attend Tallahassee Community College and to eventually study at Florida State University.
In chasing success, Tape also owned and operated a car wash.
But the highs in life at the time were followed by lows.
Tape spent two years in prison on drug and weapons charges - two years he says that changed his life.
“One trip in prison is all it took for me to realize that ain’t where I’m trying to be.”
After his release, Tape says he was able to find a job - despite his felony conviction.
Unfortunately, his employment was temporary.
"I got that tap on the shoulder.‘We can’t have you working here cause of your background’, and they terminated me.”
It was around that time, Tape says, that he decided to use the skill he mastered as a teenager to earn a living.
“I started this business out of the trunk of my car.”
Armed with business cards, a Craigslist ad and t-shirts, Tape began his mobile window tinting service.
“That was August of 2010. Since then, I haven’t worked for anybody else.”
In 2015, Tape’s business moved into a brick & mortar building in Fort Myers.
This year, he opened a second location: Advanced Custom Window Tinting in Cape Coral.
If you Google search “Miracle Shade Window Tinting”, Tape’s first business in Southwest Florida, and you’ll find multiple 5-star reviews.
His work has gained him the trust of local dealerships, too.
While Tape’s left some aspects of life in his past, there’s one goal that he hopes pays off in the future.
He’s currently enrolled at Florida Gulf Coast University, and is 15 credits away from earning his Bachelor’s degree in business management.
Tape admits maintaining two business locations, overseeing other ventures, going to school and keeping up with everyday life is challenging.
“There are some days when I don’t want to get out the bed. But, I gotta get up and make it happen.”
He says his eight children are his greatest motivation.
Two of Tape’s kids work alongside their father.
He hopes that their employment will encourage them to steer clear of ife in the streets.
Side-by-side, the boys, their father and other team members keep the family-business going, and are working to keep customers safe. Tape says they’ve implemented additional cleaning methods and require everyone in the building to wear a mask.
Tape says they’re also offering “drop-off” services for those who would rather return for their vehicle.
Years later, he’s thankful for his success and for loving relationships he shares with both of his parents.
For anyone reading and feeling discouraged, or perhaps inspired, Tape has a message for you.
“If I was able to do it in the situation that I’m in, then anyone can do it.”
Ronald Tape is hiring at his location in Cape Coral.
For more information, click here.