LOCATION BOUCHERVILLE, QC | ESTABLISHED 2009 | EMPLOYEES 50
MENTORED BY: SEAN WISE, ASST. PROFESSOR OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP, RYERSON UNIVERSITY
For many Canadians, a summer of student painting is a rite of passage. For Carmelo Marsala, it was the pathway to a lucrative franchise business. Marsala, 28, President of Boucherville, Quebec’s Spray-Net Inc., says his summer job “taught me a lot about the business through real hands-on experience. It gave me the opportunity to find a new opportunity.”
Marsala parlayed this on-the-job business education into a successful exterior painting service that uses proprietary products and techniques. Spray-Net now boasts 50 employees, plus 10 franchisees covering all territories in Quebec, with its sights set on the Maritimes and Ontario in the near future, as well as the U.S. market down the road.
The company is more than a simple painting service, however. Many paint jobs look like just that – stopgap paint jobs to repair fading exteriors. But Spray-Net guarantees a product that looks factory-new, will never peel, requires no maintenance, and is applied within one day for most homes. The secret is two-fold: a unique industrial-quality paint formulation and an exclusive spraying method that minimizes overspray and fumes.
“We bring the factory to the homeowner,” explains Marsala, “They get a brand-new looking exterior at a fraction of the cost of new siding, brick, doors or windows.” This value proposition is Spray-Net’s key advantage. The service normally costs about one percent of the value of a home. But attractive curb appeal can increase its value by up to 10 percent. “That positive ROI is pretty much immediate,” adds Marsala.
So what advice does this young, successful entrepreneur have for budding industrialists? First, you can’t delegate until you’re an expert yourself. “When I started out, I sprayed 300 homes myself,” says Marsala. “But I wasn’t just painting – it was like on-the-job R&D to find out what works and what doesn’t to improve the technique and make it teachable in order to franchise it.”
Second, surround yourself with the right people. “Your people truly are your most valuable asset. No way I would’ve been able to get where we are now on my own,” he says. And finally: work with people you actually like. “Happiness brings success, but success doesn’t necessarily bring happiness.”