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With Father’s Day still fresh in everyone’s minds, two Maaco franchisees shared their experiences of working alongside their dads in a company that has many family-run businesses.
Persevering Through the Pandemic
Keith Carlisle grew up working around his family at his father’s car dealerships, where his father, uncle and brothers all worked. That’s where he first learned to detail cars. When he took a job as a detailer in a Maaco shop 28 years ago, little did he know that someday he would own a Maaco franchise.
Starting as a detailer, Carlisle eventually taught himself all aspects of the repair process. He attended a vocational school and then worked his way through all the various production roles, including painter. After 12 years painting vehicles, he moved to production manager, estimator, store manager and then regional manager, overseeing four stores in a group of five owned by Steve Chertock.
“I had the goal of owning my own store, and eventually my boss sold me one of his locations,” said Carlisle. “I had opened stores alongside Steve and managed stores for him. Now it was my turn, and I couldn’t wait!”
Carlisle’s daughter, Cassie, began working for the franchise part-time, transporting vehicles between shops then moving into an office administration role, overseeing the accounting for multiple stores and fleet accounts and then progressing to an estimator. Now, she plays a key role running the business with her father along with manager Kevin Fennessy.
“Before working for Maaco, I worked at the Disney Store,” said Cassie. “Something I learned while working there is that it is so easy to make someone’s day a little better. At Maaco, I try to do everything in my power to help our customers as much as I can. I speak to insurance companies on behalf of the customer, I drive customers to their home or a rental car location so they don’t have to wait for an Uber. I have even taken kids on tours of our location so their parents can talk uninterrupted with Keith or Kevin. A few months ago, we were able to help a customer, who is a hospice nurse, by painting her vehicle for free. We were so inspired by what she does for other families, we wanted to thank her for her hard work. I just love helping other people and making their day a little better.”
The Carlisles have been in business for a year and a half and they love the idea of working together. Besides the obvious joy of working as a team, both father and daughter have learned a few things from one another along the way.
“Something I have learned from working with Cassie is seeing firsthand how women in this industry aren’t always treated the same, as they have to work harder to prove themselves,” said Keith. “I want our shop to be a place where everyone feels safe and valued. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, we treat everyone with respect.
“I have also learned from working with Cassie and my son Nick the power of social media. Cassie started our Instagram account in July of 2019, and it is now run by my son Nick. We have had customers discover us through our Instagram account and inquire about our services. We try to keep our content interesting by showing before-and-after shots of vehicles and various pictures and videos of our crew working on cars. Our most popular content is the paint-mixing videos.”
Cassie has gained a great deal of hands-on experience running a business by working alongside her father, but the most important lesson she learned from him was perseverance.
“The biggest lesson I have learned from my dad is that, no matter how hard things get, if you keep pushing through and have faith, things are going to work out,” said Cassie. “He bought a business and four months later a worldwide pandemic hit. We know so many body shops and other companies that have been around for 20-plus years that unfortunately didn’t make it, but we are still going strong. No matter what I do in the future, the story of how my dad started with Maaco as a detailer, then became an owner, and kept the business going strong through a pandemic while supporting the family is inspiring. I will always think, ‘If he can do all that, I can achieve my dreams.”
“I love working with my dad,” added Cassie. “ I can’t imagine it being any other way.”
Lessons Learned from Father and Grandfather
John Terrizzi III operates two successful Maaco franchises in the Philadelphia suburbs of Bridgeport and Manayunk, Pa.
“I can truly say that everything I am is because of my father and grandfather,” said Terrizzi. “As I grew up, my father made sure that we all knew our family history and how hard my grandfather worked to be successful. I watched how hard my father worked firsthand, and saw what he sacrificed so that my mother, brother, three sisters and our four cousins had the things we did. He taught me family first, and the importance of working hard to build a good life for your family.”
In 1957, John Terrizzi Sr. built a building in South Philadelphia that became Terri-Pinto Auto, a mechanical shop that still stands today. Because he had little money, he would reclaim supplies like bent nails from old construction sites and straighten them to use in the buildout of his shop.
In the mid-1960s, John Sr. expanded and built a car wash in North Philadelphia. When John Jr. was old enough, he bought into the car wash business.
“My grandfather did not believe in ‘giving’ a part of his business to my father,” said John III. “He invested with the understanding that he would also invest the time and hard work to make it better than it was. That was my grandfather’s philosophy.”
John Jr. did that, and within two to three years, he had revamped the operation, adding a longer tunnel and self-service equipment.
John Jr. had always been enamored with the Maaco business model. Ten years ago, when John III was in college, his father called to tell him that he was interested in opening a Maaco franchise and asked if he wanted to be involved. Like his father before him, the inclusion of John III was not a given. His father required a business plan and a commitment to invest the time and sweat equity to make it a success, because to them, making the businesses succeed was all about making a life for the family.
John III and his father opened their first Maaco in Bridgeport in 2013. At age 20, John III began running the operations with his father and grandfather as investors.
“We only used the words ‘Son’ and ‘Dad’ outside of business hours,” said John III. “My father believed that for the employees to respect a 20-year-old, I had to prove myself as a leader and manager and not be seen as the boss’s son.”
The family expanded their Maaco franchise to three locations, and after selling the third, are operating two. John III attributes all the success they have had to his father.
“I have learned so much from my father, more than I can tell you,” said John III. “He treats everyone the same – with respect – and because of that, so many people in the community reach out to me to tell me what an amazing man he is. They come to him for advice. He and my grandfather have employees that have been with them for more than 20 years. If there were points early in their careers that times were hard, they always made payroll, even if they didn’t take a paycheck themselves. He always gives 100% and expects that of others. And if you are one of his employees and you give 100%, he takes care of you like family.”
John Jr. is still “the hardest working man in the room,” says his son. “If we are short a person, he will jump in and sand a car or do whatever is needed. He is a successful businessman running multiple businesses, but he is also just a regular, humble, hardworking guy. And he’s the best role model I could ever have had.”