We are a team in many aspects…..married 34 years, parents to three terrific, now adult kids, owners, and operators of numerous, self-grown, successful businesses.
We met in 1980 at college, West Chester University, where Charlie was captain of the WCU wrestling team and Barb the captain of the Women’s Gymnastics team. Charlie opened his first business while still in his 4th year. Barb was always there to assist. Over the next 25 years, their gym chain grew from catering to college students to serving the greater West Chester area with 10 million in sales and 350 employees. We know what it’s like to provide high-quality diverse services to a wide range of ages and abilities 365 days a year (yes! even open on holidays!) with hours of operation from 5:00 am till 11:00 pm. Every. Day.
While managing the day to day of our health clubs, we raised three terrific kids, coached their sports teams, served our community, were involved in our church and school and kept expanding and re-investing in our business. We invested millions in advertising, on every media available.
As is typical in life, we were tossed a few unexpected curve balls.
In 2006 we sold our health club business to free us up to support our son who showed promise and focused interest in tv and film. It was a period of east coast-west coast tag-team parenting, homeschooling, and auditions. A healthy dose of marketing to the film & television industry via full-page ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter assisted him in gaining some traction. That led to his landing starring roles in Oscar-nominated film and television roles including the hit ABC comedy, The Middle.
The advertisements in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter didn’t give him his roles. They only assisted him in getting seen by casting agencies. We often tell businesses, your ads will only get you into the customer’s door. Delivering a quality service/product and keeping a customer falls on you. It was his talent, work ethic, focus, and character that secured his success. The ads merely afforded more opportunities.
During this transition away from the health club industry, we founded The Business and Entrepreneur Network where Charlie coached and consulted over 100 business owners in the Philadelphia area.
At the same time, his Digital Marketing Agency quickly became a leader in providing video, SEO, website design, and Google & Facebook ad campaigns for professional service companies across the U.S.
Talk about the ups and downs of life, the very same week we celebrated our son booking his ABC contract, we found ourselves blindsided and in the hospital with our middle daughter ( high school junior) diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease. Barb had just returned to her favorite vocation, back into the classroom as a middle school teacher and our youngest had just begun high school. The years that followed were full of success tinged with loss and uncertainty. Of course, we rallied and brave-faced it, but the disease took its toll…..on all of us.
When our youngest graduated high school and moved out to California to pursue her photography career, near her brother, like all parents of grown children, we were faced with an emptying nest and work that no longer tied us to an area like our bricks and mortar once had. Barb launched an online health coaching business from all she learned through our daughter’s illness and a much-needed trip to the sunshine state in the winter of 2015 presented us with an opportunity we hadn’t even been seeking.
Florida’s climate, year-round sunshine, color, and warmth make life with a chronic condition….often unpredictable and punishing…..more tolerable. Pulling up roots from a community we had been immersed in for over 30 years was emotionally tough, but change typically comes with a mixed set of experiences. Like our decision to straddle two coasts to support our son worked for his good, our decision to set south worked for our daughter’s good. You can check out her business at erinmade.com.
Faith. Trust. And a few years later we discover a community publishing company whose guiding principles align perfectly with ours. Combined with our years of life, business, and entrepreneurial experiences we’ve turned our neighborhood publications into the #1 referral source, with our Good Neighbor Podcast. We know that, like our son’s career, businesses have to have the skill, talent, and character to capture and keep customers, but they won’t stand a chance if no one knows about them. Today we enjoy using our light to illuminate others.