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Start Your Business Success Stories

My Journey from College Entrepreneur to Aspiring International Franchisor

Carmelo Marsala of Spray-Net
Credit: Spray-Net

Since adolescence I've struggled with authority. Bouncing from job to job, I knew I wanted to start my own business one day.

While studying finance and marketing at Concordia University, I entered the painting business as a Student Painting franchisee at the age of 19. Like most painters, I did both interior and exterior work using a brush, roller and commercially-available latex paints. When customers would ask me to paint their aluminum and vinyl doors and windows to save on the cost of replacing them, I always had to refuse as they would look noticeably repainted: The finish would look streaky and would inevitably end up peeling.

Knowing that brand-new siding, doors and windows were painted in a factory, I realized that if I could reproduce that same factory finish and durability on-site, then I'd be on to something. In March 2010, at the age of 23 and while still enrolled at Concordia's John Molson School of Business, I founded Spray-Net, Inc. Along with specialists, we formulated the coatings we need for each surface we would renew. Spray-Net, Inc. specializes in spray painting on siding, doors and windows.

Even though I had extensive knowledge and experience in the home improvement industry, I knew there was more I had to learn to run a successful and efficient company. Learning is key to growing a successful business that is efficient and effective in the industry.

I enrolled in the Windy City Coatings Course to obtain my certification in paint formulation and learned an important lesson: the only way to achieve permanent results when it comes to painting is to follow through from formulation to application.

This process is exactly what Spray-Net, Inc. does. We launched a proprietary line of unique customized coatings specially tailored for each surface we renew outside of the controlled environment of a factory. Our paints and coatings are exclusive. Our franchisees are able to create customized coatings based on the weather conditions that day and customized for each side of the house with our patented processes.

Franchising Spray-Net Inc and expanding south of the Canadian border has always been in our business plan. As a founder and CEO of a company, failing to plan is planning to fail. However, before we decided to officially launch our U.S. expansion initiative, we wanted to solidify our growth through Canada prior to entering uncharted territory.

Through hard work and dedication, Spray-Net, Inc. has positioned itself to be Canada's fastest-growing home-improvement and remodeling franchise. With 45 operating territories in nine of Canada's 10 Provinces, we are now turning our attention to dominating the U.S. marketplace.

After transforming thousands of homes, engineering our mobile spray booth and painting chamber and developing our internal information software "The Spray-Network," we've optimized our systems to create a scalable business model that could be successfully replicated across different territories. It's been two years since we started franchising our business and today, we have locations across Canada.

By establishing a solid foundation in our home market, we've been able to perfect our business model and properly support each franchisee. Between our exclusive Centrally-Operated Call Center, which answers calls and schedules appointments for all of the company's franchisees, and our in-house marketing agency handles the campaigns for all of our franchise partners. With this support system, our franchisees are able to provide top-tier services by solely concentrating on the operations of their business.

As a team, we know that expansion is key, but expansion must come without losing sight of who we are as a company. We built a solid foundation to ensure that one day, we will be industry leaders both throughout Canada and the U.S.

About the author: Carmelo Marsala started Spray-Net after running his own Student Painting franchise. Marsala's innovation and consistent hard work paid off when he won IFA's NextGen in Franchising Global Competition in 2016. Previous to that he was named the 2015 Air Miles for Business Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He was also nominated for the 2014 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Carmelo's entrepreneurial journey and the Spray-Net solution have also been featured on CityTV's Breakfast Television, The Globe & Mail and The Montreal Gazette.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Fallon.