RICH WILSON: Paul Davis Restoration
No stranger to the world of franchising, Rich Wilson has been a leader at 5 different franchise companies . He’s a big believer in the value of failure, but not when it comes to his skydiving parachute. His investment in his people and their skill development has paved his road to success.
Education: Dickinson College, History
Rookie Year: 1986 (turf: Carlisle, PA)
Current Home: Philadelphia, PA
College Pro Journey
Rich began his career in franchising in 1986 as a franchisee for College Pro Painters. “I would argue that I actually had to do College Pro to survive as a student. I paid my own tuition, and it went up $7,000 in one year. I had to figure out how to bridge the gap.” At first, Rich looked into joining the military for a scholarship, but then he saw the sign in his student union building that said “Don’t get a job. Get a business.” Thankfully he found success, and could not only afford his tuition, but had a little cash to spare. After a couple of years, Rich decided to veer away from this path to becoming a lawyer after graduating with a history degree, “I am so thankful that I have an arts degree. College is the one time in your life where you can be thoughtful, and in fact you have to be thoughtful. Right now, people say arts is a waste of time and I don’t like that. It challenged my communication, critical thinking, and made me a better person”. Apparently, it also made him better in business, as he eventually worked his way up to Vice President at College Pro in 1993, doubling the divisional sales and expanding into new states…his work was done.
College Pro Skills
Rich credits College Pro with any, and all, success that he’s gained. In terms of leadership, skill development, coaching, goal setting and conflict resolution – he can’t say enough about his experiences. “I’ve been with several other companies, and it’s amazing how powerful those skills are, and how many great businesses don’t foster the skills that you learn as a College Pro franchisee. Those skills are lifelong, and you can learn them in your 20s.” Rich says he still coaches the same skills today that he did as a manager with College Pro. “When it comes to College Pro, I am all in. I will always talk to anyone who’s been there, because we’ve gone through the same things, and that’s incredible.”
Rich’s Favourite CP Memory
This one pulls at the heartstrings a little bit. As a VP, he had a franchisee who’s family was going through a rough financial situation. College Pro helped the family work through their struggles through GS&Rs; coaching the franchisee’s father whose business was going south. “The guy was probably the same age that I am now, and he’s still a friend today. Just through coaching, no loans or anything, I helped him get his restaurant out of a really tight spot. It was incredibly rewarding”
Rich’s #1 piece of advice would be to challenge yourself, “it’s okay to be uncomfortable, and it’s okay to have some conflict”. While building a business, Rich says it’s imperative that you put yourself in a situation where you might fail. Sometimes you do fail, but other times you thrive more than ever. “Right now, this micro-sensitivity and fear of hurting feelings is really harmful to business culture. You don’t grow without feeling a bit of pain, and you have to be okay with that. If you don’t approach pain, you will never grow”.
In 1997 Rich moved on to AAMCO Transmissions, serving in several senior positions. He built upon the skills gained as a College Pro franchisee in order to run a full time franchise organization. He came back to the family in 2003 as President & CEO of CertaPro Painters. Now, he is President & CEO of Paul Davis Restoration. His method to success is recruiting the best people, on-boarding those people correctly, smooth operations, and retaining those great people. “I have 25 ex-College Pro people that I still work with in some shape or form – we’re good friends, but we also get results”.
Claims to have almost been eaten by a Grizzly Bear while fishing in Alaska! (note: “the best business trips are the ones that put you out of your comfort zone!”)
He recently went skydiving!
Rich has been married for 23 years