Here's a subtle sign the economy is on the mend: Tom Darrow, a former Gulf Coast resident and entrepreneur who moved to Connecticut, has returned to the region — and business is good.
Darrow, who ran a commercial landscaping firm in Ridgefield, Conn., didn't only move back to Florida for the weather. He mostly moved so he could help build his business, a franchise-based company that repaves parking lot stripes, into a national success.
“We want to be able to do any job from Maine to Miami,” says Darrow, who previously lived in Venice and now lives in Naples. “But we realize we have to have the hubs to do that.”
Darrow's company, We Do Lines, could be the first franchise company in the country to zero in on the niche of repaving parking lot stripes. He founded the company in Connecticut in 2008, when he couldn't find anyone there to work on some parking lot jobs for landscaping clients. But midway through last year, Darrow decided the company should be run out of a place sunny year-round, so business isn't lost for the winter.
Darrow then made the somewhat unusual step of buying the Fort Myers-Naples franchise rights for We Do Lines, so he's now a franchisor and franchisee. “I had to put my money where my mouth is,” Darrow tells Coffee Talk.
Now Darrow splits his time between seeking clients for his own franchise and building the franchise side of the business. On the franchise side, the company bills the opportunity as a business in a box, with a $25,000 franchise fee and total startup costs from $77,000 to $134,000. The company will train new franchisees in a Cape Coral office Darrow recently leased.
On his own franchise, meanwhile, Darrow says business opportunities have been surprisingly good. He says a key move was to place targeted ads in asphalt and construction industry magazines. “We know Florida is a wide-open canvas for us,” Darrow says. “Just about every spot in the state needs to be repaved.”