Bucks Man's Business Is Looking Up He's Franchising Ceiling Textures

Posted: February 25, 1988

After 10 years as a painting contractor in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, Anthony J. "Tony" Chieffo looked up and found his niche: textured ceilings.

Seven months ago, Chieffo rigged up a van-mounted mixer/tank and started a company in Ivyland called Ceilings Beautiful that specializes in texturing ceilings with sprayed-on polystyrofoam.

Not content to texture two ceilings in five to eight houses a week, Chieffo, 35, aims to become the Ray Kroc of textured ceilings by franchising his idea. But it's taken considerably more effort to get ready to franchise than the 2 1/2 hours it takes him to texture a 12-by-12-foot room's ceiling.

After spending five months and $40,000, Chieffo has surveyed the market with the help of a marketing firm, gotten his company's name registered as a service mark and his disclosure document written with the help of an attorney, and contracted with a franchise broker to help him sell his franchises.

He also joined the Philadelphia Franchise Association, a nonprofit group in Glenside that promotes franchising.

"It's an informative organization. You get to meet other people and experts in franchising. I found it well worthwhile," said Chieffo, who lives in Richboro and graduated from Cardinal Dougherty High School in the Olney section of Philadelphia.

In the next few weeks, he plans to start advertising, hoping to sign up his first franchisee. "I envision this to go across the United States and then some," he said.

Chieffo got the idea to franchise his business when he went to a franchise show in Valley Forge last spring. He was amazed at the number of people who were interested in going into business for themselves.

"The texturing operation is systematized so that it can be taught to others, which makes Ceilings Beautiful a business opportunity for others" through franchising, he said.

Chieffo plans to sell franchises for $50,000. He said he will supply the franchisee with materials, office supplies, marketing, in-house and on-the-job training and equipment, including a van painted with the Ceilings Beautiful service mark and equipped with the mixer/tank and sprayer.

"It's a heck of an idea," said Jack Schriver, operations manager for the Sherwin-Williams Co. Philadelphia Commercial Store in the Northeast.

He noted that often a painting contractor will rent a small hand-held hopper/spray gun from a supply house to texture home ceilings, a method that requires stopping for remixing and refills. Although some companies use truck- or trailer-mounted tanks to texture residential ceilings, they are used mainly in this area for large commercial jobs.

"He (Chieffo) will be equipping the everyday guy to compete with the big guys," Schriver said. Chieffo's mixer/tank can hold 75 to 100 gallons of the spray material; only the hose and sprayer are taken into the house.

Used mainly in this area on old ceilings for its restorative properties, texturing can hide stains, cracks, bumps and hollows. Chieffo charges $150 to $200 to texture a 12-by-12-foot room's ceiling.

He added that textured ceilings require almost no maintenance and can be painted over. They can also be tinted or flecked with gold, silver or clear

acrylic sparkles.

Kim Towarnicki decided to have Ceilings Beautiful texture the kitchen ceiling in her Warminster home after the removal of a wall left an unsightly seam in the ceiling.

"We were very pleased with the work that was done. You can't see the seam at all," Towarnicki said. She liked it so much that she had her living room, dining room and hall textured as well.

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