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Automotive Painter Takes Control of Family’s Future with Fresh Coat Painters Franchise in Tennessee

Approaching retirement age, Jeff Berry realized his long-time career was not only harming his health, but was also leaving him unprepared for the future.

After spending 40 years as an auto painter in the collision business, military veteran Jeff Berry realized that continuing in such a physically demanding job was not sustainable, especially as he approached retirement. His experience with asthma and other health issues, as well as concerns about his financial future, led him to explore other opportunities. Similarly, his wife Jenn had studied to be a dental assistant but found the industry unreliable and difficult to break into. Now, they are gearing up to bring Fresh Coat* Painters, the leading residential and commercial painting franchise, to Maryville, Tennessee, as the newest franchisees in the system. 

For Berry, this new venture represents not only a slower, more sustainable pace of life, but also the realization of his entrepreneurial dreams. The ability to operate from home and the relatively low startup costs of Fresh Coat Painters were significant factors in his decision, allowing him to fulfill a long-held dream of owning a business without the prohibitive expenses of other concepts. Looking ahead, he hopes to eventually acquire neighboring territories and involve his children in the business, ensuring a stable and prosperous future for them. 

“After all the physical work I’ve done in my life, this is a great feeling — it's like I’m slamming on the brakes and going slower, which is exactly what I want,” Berry said. “When I was a kid, I started my own auto reconditioning business on the side called Mr. Mint. That is the name of our LLC now. It’s really full circle — the dreams have all come together. It feels meant to be.”

1851 Franchise spoke with Berry to learn more about his background, his decision to enter the franchising world and his plans for the future. 

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Jeff Berry: I spent four years in the Marine Corps and then became an auto painter for 40 years. I painted cars, trucks, etc. I worked in the collision business, primarily for Caliber Collision. After all that time, I realized it wasn’t helping my health. I developed asthma, for example. I knew I could do this until I was 65 or 70, and I wasn’t happy with the retirement plan. So, last year, at 55, it was time to let this go. So, I started looking into owning my own business. 

My wife and I have been married for 27 years and we have three children in their 20’s, as well as three grandchildren. She graduated from Tennessee School of Beauty for cosmetology and is a registered RDA. She did that to be a dental assistant, but those jobs just didn’t work for us. It's very competitive with the younger generation and she could not land a consistent job. That is the reason why we decided to invest in Fresh Coat.

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Berry: I started looking at different home service companies, whether it be cleaning windows, housekeeping, etc. I realized I didn’t want to waste my money starting a small business on my own. Franchising would give me everything and the team would help me put it all together. It would give me a leg up. I have friends who started their own business from scratch, and not only do they not make as much money, but it also took them a lot longer to take off. 

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

BerryI found Fresh Coat pretty quickly. It really fits me, my area of expertise and my goals. I knew I could use my automotive experience and translate it to residential painting. I went to the extremes to make sure I had enough money to open this business and make something of it. The support was great — they provide you with the website, the marketing, the playbook. I don't have experience as a salesman — I’m a worker — so it's important to have that backing. Yeah, I have to pay fees, but I believe that it will all pay itself back if you do the right thing. 

Also, the fact that you could work out of the house was a big factor. I knew I didn’t have enough funds to go out and purchase a building. As a kid, I always wanted to open up a body shop with my dad, but who has a million dollars to spend on a body shop? Fresh Coat was low cost and I knew I could afford the business model.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

BerryI hope to expand my business and eventually buy the next territory over. The goal is to have a retirement plan and potentially pass this business down to my three beautiful children, who are all in their 20s, and maybe even one day to my three grandchildren. I am hoping that the family will join me and I’ll be able to hand them something to grow.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

BerryWhen I was a kid, I started my own auto reconditioning business on the side called Mr. Mint. That is the name of our LLC now. It’s really full circle — the dreams have all come together. It feels meant to be.                      

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

BerryIt's definitely scary in the beginning. I was scared to quit my job — I made good money painting cars. But once you get going, with the backing and the help of the franchisor, you can succeed if you put in the work. If you do it right, you can expand the dream you have for yourself and your future. 

For more information on franchising with Fresh Coat Painters, visit:


Fresh Coat Painters, the residential and commercial painting franchise under the Strategic Franchising Systems umbrella, offers a low-cost, high-margin business model that gives entrepreneurs from all walks of life the chance to become successful business owners in the communities they serve. Since starting in 2004, Fresh Coat has expanded to over 170 franchise locations nationwide. Thanks to its unparalleled professionalism and affordable business model, it has become one of the leading concepts in the booming residential and commercial painting segment. With continued year-over-year growth, Fresh Coat is well on its way to achieving its overall goal of becoming a truly iconic painting brand.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.