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Young Ones To Watch: Carmelo Marsala, Founder and President of Spray-Net

Spray-Net's founder and president shares his thoughts on franchising and what he would tell young up-and-comers in the space.

Carmelo Marsala always knew he wanted to start his own business one day. An early experience as a franchisee ended up motivating him to become a franchisor, and he founded Spray-Net to fill an unmet need in the residential exterior painting industry. Founded in 2010, Spray-Net is a premium painting franchise that uses Custom proprietary coatings and a patented process to deliver better results than traditional brush-and-roller painting. After winning Canada’s version of Shark Tank, brand awareness skyrocketed, and Spray-Net nearly instantaneously sold out all territories in Canada. 

1851 Franchise spoke with Marsala as part of our Young Ones to Watch issue in order to learn more about his story.

1851 Franchise: How did you get into franchising? 

Marsala: I got into franchising as a College Pro Student Painting franchisee while in university, and I would continuously get customers who would ask about painting their vinyl or aluminum surfaces, like siding and doors. I was hesitant as the products weren’t made for this and could potentially ruin these surfaces. So, I looked into how they did this in the factory, but the environment is controlled and the products were too toxic to apply on-site. I knew if there were a water-based technology we would have something where we could bring factory-quality work to these homeowners, as well as the ability to paint these surfaces effectively. Thus, Spray-Net was born. Once we got the company off the ground, I always had franchising in the back of my mind as a way to scale it when I was ready. 

1851: What do you love about the industry? 

Marsala: The best part about the franchise industry is the openness amongst franchisors and the willingness to share best practices, which allows us to be better together. After all, collaboration is the very essence of franchising!

1851: What makes someone a good fit for the franchise industry? 

Marsala: It is important to be entrepreneurial, both on the franchisor side as well as from a franchisee perspective. These are people who are high achievers and great executors, but they don't necessarily feel the need to start something from scratch.

1851: Are there traits that are shared by the most successful franchise professionals you know? 

Marsala: Pragmatism. Franchising is a unique business model where the franchisees are in business for themselves, but not by themselves. This can sometimes cause unique situations where it's important to be practical and creative so that everyone stays rowing in the same direction. 

1851: How do you feel about the industry's response to the coronavirus crisis so far?  Are there challenges or opportunities that the industry still needs to address?

Marsala: It is hard to say because I am coming from a place of great privilege in the home improvement sector, which has actually seen a lift in response to the crisis as more people are spending time and investing in their homes. This has also created an increased demand for home improvement franchise opportunities as people are getting furloughed and are looking to do something new. I can only imagine the types of challenges that gym and restaurant franchisors must be facing right now

1851: What advice do you have for other young up-and-comers in the space? 

Marsala: Franchising is a great, scalable business model, but as a franchisor, it is important to remember that it is a long-term game. It takes a while to become profitable, but it is so rewarding when you visit an engaged franchisee having enormous success due to something you started. 

As a franchisee, it's a no-brainer business opportunity. Franchisees can leverage a brand’s proven business model, IP and support infrastructure for a fraction of the cost and time it would have taken to create on your own. The beauty about franchising is that when it is done right, it creates value for everyone and is a truly symbiotic relationship.