Quick-Fire Q&A With Stew Cochran

Hexis King of Chrome, Stew Cochran, joins us for our QuickFire Q&A.


How long have you been in the industry?

13 years.


What inspired you to become a vehicle wrapper?

My passion for cars. I’ve always been a petrol head and that’s the reason my career took me in this direction.


How did you get started in the industry?

I used to be a farm manager, and during my time in this role, the farm was looking for someone to apply graphics to their machinery. I bought a plotter and took on the signwriting. As I was working on this, I met someone with a bright yellow car and asked them about their paintwork. It had been wrapped and the process interested me so much that I bought some material and wrapped a car (on my drive – which makes me cringe now, as a trainer), but from there on, I was hooked.


What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on and why?

Last year, I worked on a Renault for Alpine F1. We had 12 hours to get the car out before it went for pre-season practice testing. Adding to the challenge was the fact that the vinyl was lacquered beforehand, and the wrap was a full digital print.

What’s your favourite part of the vehicle wrapping process?

Seeing the customer’s face when you give them the car back – for some people it makes them fall back in love with their car. It can be worrying when people cry but it’s always been happy tears! 


Do you think industry events like WrapFest are important, and why?

Definitely. It’s great to see people from all different points in their careers come together to see new products, network and learn from each other. 


How do you stay up to date with the latest trends and techniques in vehicle wrapping?

Every six months, the Hexis trainers get together to discuss new products and technologies as they are ever-evolving. I speak to a lot of different trainers from 3M, Arlon, Avery, etc. and keep up to date with their latest technologies and techniques too.


What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career and how did you learn from it?

Not taking on staff earlier. My business has been built solely on myself and I could’ve grown it a lot sooner if I’d done this. 


What do you think sets you apart from other vehicle wrappers?

Attention to detail – that’s the most critical thing. But also, being able to install chrome to such a high standard. As cheesy as it sounds, Hexis call me the King of Chrome.


What’s the most common misconception people have about vehicle wrapping?

People underestimate the length of time it takes to wrap a vehicle. It’s not as quick as some people expect. The other one would be that customers can expect it to be exactly the same finish as paint, which is unrealistic.


How do you handle difficult clients?

Speaking with the customer beforehand in a consultation and understanding their needs and expectations means that you can usually avoid difficulties later on. If there ever was a problem, dealing with it early on makes all the difference. 


Where is the best place you’ve ever travelled to for work?

Dubai. The opportunity over there for people with a good work ethic is second to none. 


What are some of the best products you’ve come across?

The product that has helped every vehicle wrapper out is 3M’s knifeless tape – it’s a game changer. It is precise and one of the most innovative products out there at the moment.


What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career so far?

Take your time. Speed comes with experience and time brings quality. Once you’ve got the quality nailed down, the speed comes. 


What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry since you started?

Consumer knowledge has improved a lot in the last few years, largely down to social media. Customers can do a lot of their own research and know more about what they want. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of the latest products.


How do you ensure the quality of your work meets your high standards?

You’re only as good as your last job. Every job I do is completed to the same standard, no matter the size.


What is your favourite part about being a Hexis trainer? 

Seeing the success of the trainees and them starting their businesses afterwards. Taking a course can transform people’s lives. I am continuously learning from trainees too, finding out their perception of the industry and how I can improve my training based on their needs. 


What’s next for you in your career?

Taking on staff now it’s the right time for me to do so. I’ve held off for so many years but now it’s getting really busy and I’ll be getting a unit.


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