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The Family Business

Posted by Nolan Painting on December 11, 2020
Nolan painting employees at holiday party

The family business is painting. It all started in 1979 when I, as a student attending Villanova University, had an entrepreneurial seizure. I realized I could paint houses and make a decent dollar. I also loved the work, and I loved the people. But painting a house takes a long time, so I decided I needed some help. I hired my brother-in-law, Jack (my wife Mary Frances’ brother), and the two of us painted with a few other folks for a couple of years. I then hired Jack’s younger brother, James. So, I now had, and still have, two brothers-in-law in the business with me.


Years went by and as our local painting company grew, my family also grew. Over the years, my four children worked in the family business during summers, throughout high school, and college. At different times, I also hired my three brothers and several nephews as they worked their way through college. Later, my brother, Brian, had a corporate job and he also had an entrepreneurial seizure. He decided he wanted to be a business coach.

At this point, I had been offering my house painting services for 25 years. I had been the National Vice President of the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America. I gave speeches across the country on marketing, human resources, and business planning for my trade association, as well as for local Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, and vocational schools. I also wrote articles for trade magazines. So, I had a bit of a reputation in the painting industry.

In 2004, my brother Brian and I teamed up and formed Nolan Consulting Group, LLC. As the largest residential painting company in the nation, I apply my successful business model, which is based on high-quality work, customer service, and community outreach, to help painting contractors around the country grow their businesses. Together, Brian and I help interior/exterior painting companies and other small-business owners achieve more consistent, predictable results and realize profitable growth. Our mission is to help small businesses reach their summit through the implementation of business systems, sales training, and leadership development. We have contracts with over 100 painting contractors across the United States and we also share best practices as a group.

There, we hired Brian’s two children to be part of the consulting group. His oldest son, Colin, joined in 2014 and is now a Business Coach. Molly, Brian’s daughter and my niece, is the Marketing and Program Manager, and both add tremendous value and leadership to the company.

In 2010, I hired my niece, April Torrisi, to manage our growing marketing efforts. Now, we do commercial broadcasting that includes advertising on local news, sports radio, and tv stations, out-of-home advertising that includes ads on billboards, buses, and trains, as well as digital marketing. Year after year, the company continues to grow in revenue, and it is April’s job to help develop and implement strategic marketing plans, increase customer leads, improve customer retention, recruit new employees, and bring new and innovative marketing ideas to my leadership team.

The Next Generation

Nolan Painting activities

All four of my children, Colleen, Claire, Kevin, and Christopher, attended Penn State University and now work for the family business, which makes me so proud. I initially built this business so I could work for myself, be successful, and be happy with the work I do every day. What’s even better is that my children will eventually take over the business I created and will continue the mission of improving people’s homes in a friendly and respectful way.

My two older daughters got good jobs after they graduated. I remember both my boys saying in the last summer before their senior years, “I won’t be doing this next year when I graduate. I will get a real job.” To my surprise, the summer after Kevin’s senior year, he decided to stay on and eventually worked diligently to become a Crew Manager, and now a Field Manager of the Whizz Kids, where he oversees a 30-plus paint crew. Christopher finished school two years later, and he happily put his time into interior/exterior painting services for several years. He is now a Sales Estimator and found extreme success in his first year. Both bring friendly, happy, can-do attitudes to work every day and I am proud of them both.

Shortly after my two sons joined the business, I was able to recruit my oldest daughter, Colleen. Colleen was the Director of Operations for a publishing company. Colleen had gained a lot of experience in managing people. Additionally, as the eldest child in our family, she was a natural leader. Nolan Painting was in dire need of a Human Resources Director and I approached Colleen about the position. Thankfully, she took the job. She is amazing at managing the HR needs of our company of 125 people.

Nolan in The Neighborhood is a community-based initiative we started in 2015. We have committed to giving $1 million to community-based organizations and nonprofits in our region over a ten-year period. We get hundreds of requests annually and we meet regularly to plan our activities. My daughter, Claire, is a recruiter with a master’s degree in Education at Penn State University. She takes on the role of manager for Nolan in the Neighborhood as a part-time gig. Claire is a natural for this job. Extremely empathic and caring, she loves being the face of our philanthropic efforts.

So, if you are keeping track, that’s eleven of us in the family painting business. But there’s much more family in this family business. We have folks like Colin McGroary, who joined the business 30 years ago and is now Vice President of Operations, and Conal Mulreany, a Field Supervisor, who has been with the company almost as long as Colin. There is Steve Nafranowicz, who started as an apprentice painter 30 years ago and is now our CFO. Jon Meyer, VP of sales, and Jim Falk, Senior Sales Estimator, joined my team 24 years ago. Those five people make up the management team and there are a lot of other people here at Nolan Painting who are part of our family business.

I always remind the team that a family business is a powerful unit where everybody shares the same values and works together. We have a saying, “In a family business, you don’t take it easy, you take it harder.” This family business will pass on to the next generation and provide great service for many more years to come. We thank you for supporting our family business and will always be there for you, our customers.

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