Rebounding from Tragedy, Family Paints a New Future
After 30 years working in the insurance brokerage business selling plans and consulting on their designs, John Fecile found himself facing the worst personal crisis a parent can face.
In February 2011, his son Michael suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling four stories from his apartment balcony near Penn State University, where he was a sophomore majoring in psychology.
A talented high school football player at Garnet Valley, Michael was a student manager for the Penn State football team and wanted to pursue a coaching career himself.
Though he survived the fall, Michael required 24-hour care and was confined to his bed, unable to speak. After fighting for more than four years – aided by his parents, four siblings and extended family members along with a dedicated group of health aides and volunteers – Michael Fecile died in May 2015 at home at the age of 24.
John Fecile recalled last week that he needed to take time off from work following his son’s death to deal with his grief. When he emerged from his emotional depths six month later, he knew he wanted to work for himself so he began researching franchises. After considering four, he and his wife Kate decided to start CertaPro Painters® of Western Chester County.
“Our business was started (in July) to create a new life for us after Michael died in 2015,” John Fecile said. “Although he required 24-hour care, we cared for him at home until his death. We were helped immeasurably by the love and support of our families and our community. We chose to start our business to give ourselves a new life and to contribute more directly to our community.”
Fecile was in Cochranville last week supervising a painting crew at a house that will soon be up for sale. He employs subcontractors and has access to enough workers to put out two to five crews of about five painters each.
“I needed to do something where I was more in the community. I was contacted by a franchising consultant and we came up with four options. I choose CertaPro®and fortunately they chose me too.”
“I needed to do something else,” he said of his decision to move on from his insurance job. “I needed to do something where I was more in the community. I was contacted by a franchising consultant and we came up with four options. I choose CertaPro®and fortunately they chose me too.”
Based in Oaks, Montgomery County, CertaPro Painters® is America’s largest painting company.
Fecile’s franchise is headquartered in Parkesburg. CertaPro Painters® of Western Chester County’s territory includes Atglen, Avondale, Coatesville, Cochranville, Honey Brook, Landenberg, Lincoln University, Nottingham, Oxford, Parkesburg, Toughkenamon and West Grove.
Commercial and residential painting is an estimated $40 billion industry in the U.S. and Canada. CertaPro® said it has been ranked No. 1 by
Entrepreneur magazine in its category for the last three years and boasts a customer referral rate that exceeds 95 percent.
“In the end I chose them because of that emphasis on exceptional customer service,” Fecile said. “They’ve made investments in everybody in the organization, from office assistants to sales associates to the painters.”
Fecile said he has exceeded revenue projections and customer satisfaction percentages in his first six months of operation.
“We expect to have a $3 million painting company in five years,” he said. “We would like to grow our business to include new territories as they become available.”
The community activism part is moving along too, Fecile said.
CertaPro Painters® is providing discounted services to Homes For Our Troops – which builds mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured veterans – as well as Home of the Sparrow, which is headquartered in Exton and provides housing and supportive services to homeless and low-income women looking to become self-sufficient.
“We just completed an ‘at cost’ painting job for Home of the Sparrow for their recently opened Catherine Twomey House in Coatesville,” Fecile said.
In the meantime, Fecile said he is working with the Garnet Valley and Penn State football teams to establish a scholarship in Michael’s name for a student who wants to pursue a coaching career. Michael, who lettered for three years, was the starting center in 2007 when Garnet Valley was eastern state champion in its division, John Fecile recalled.
The Feciles have four surviving children, the youngest of whom will graduate from Garnet Valley High School in 2017. The community, he said, raised over $100,000 for a van, chair lift, motorized wheelchair, specialized medical supplies and more during the four years the family was taking care of Michael at home.
“I can’t say enough about the Garnet Valley community,” John Fecile said. “We were the beneficiaries of our community, so a big part of this is giving back … Everything about this transition has been delightful.”
On the Web: http://western-chester-county.certapro.com
To contact Business Editor Brian McCullough, call 610-235-2655 or send an email to [email protected]