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No Mess, No Stress

Jeremy Fyfe’s success rests on the smart use of technology and a commitment to family

19 August, 2022

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The Fyfe kids have been a few places. Close to home, they’ve visited Niagara Falls. Further afield, they’ve been to the Bahamas. They’ve added multiple stamps to their passports as they’ve discovered the world away from home. “We’re all about getting out of New Jersey and Philadelphia,” said their father, Jeremy. 

At home in the Jersey burb of Sicklerville, the family plays together and prays together. “We implemented what’s called ‘family fun day’ on Fridays, where I might take them to a bounce house or we go to a movie as a family,” he said. “We have worship night on Tuesday, where we do some Bible-based lessons and I have an opportunity to sit in fellowship with my family. We go over some topics and everything that is going to strengthen the family for the rest of the week.” Oh, there’s also time out with friends, date nights with his wife and that trip to Costa Rica she surprised him with on their fifth anniversary. 

Fyfe Family

There’s plenty of time for his paint contracting business as well, but this is “Lifestyles,” and since Jeremy Fyfe, owner of GLS Painters, makes sure to put his family first, we thought we’d do the same thing. 
“I am not bogged down with my business,” he states unequivocally. “That is one thing I make sure of. I make time for my family. I have two boys: one six and one four. I was able for the first time this year to put my son on the bus for school and then get him off that bus.” 

How does he keep up with a bus schedule and run a painting business? Along with attitude, a lot of it is thanks to technology. Fyfe is an app-master, using available technology to meld his business and personal life into a hassle-free platform all its own. “I use a platform called YouCan- Book.me” where I’m able to choose when a client is going to get into our calendar, so my time is never restricted in terms of having to work 50 or 60 hours a week. It doesn’t happen.” With Zapier, Gmail and QuickBooks all at his fingertips, he’s got the software game well in hand. Clients are kept up to date, business is taken care of in a limited number of visits, payments are easy for customers to make and Fyfe to receive. GLS management and crew can keep track of work to be done, and Jeremy can save several hours a week on home visits and busywork. 

Coloring, painting and … rats 

Fyfe grew up in Atlanta, where his mom enjoyed painting and decorating and his grandfather was a contractor. The real training started on visits to his grandma in Philadelphia, where they would get out the coloring books. “I would come to Philadelphia and basically live with my dad over the summer, but I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house,” he said. “She had six grandchildren and she did something different with all of them. Me and her, what I remember is we used to color. From around 1998 to about 2009 when she passed, we colored. That was our thing.” He’s still got the books, and now he colors with his kids as well. 

He moved from crayons to paint, starting with a room at Grandma’s house. It must have gone well, as from there he began to paint for her friends. “I hit my whole block in northwest [uptown] Philadelphia,” he said. “From there I became a maintenance man for the Marriott — and I knew nothing about maintenance.” Other people noticed that his skills needed some brushing up. He ran into a contractor who was doing some work on the property, and who was a little surprised when Fyfe let him into a room to get started and began to walk off. “He’s like, ‘so you’re the maintenance man, right?’ And I’m young. I said, ‘Yeah.’ He’s says, ‘Well, why are you not watching us to learn what’s going on so you can fix it later?’ And I thought, ‘That’s a really good idea.’” 

It was an amazingly good idea, and shortly after, Fyfe joined up with that contractor as an apprentice. He learned a variety of trades — roofing, drywall, tile, wallpaper — but his heart was still in the paint. “He taught me how to paint for real: the brushes, how to complete a wall, spackling and fixing holes, putting up new Sheetrock … and that’s kind of where it all started,” Fyfe recalled. “From there I created a handyman business called Mr. Odd Jobs. I hated it.” Turned out that what you call your business matters. “The jobs I was called for were really odd,” he recalled. “‘Hey, I got a rodent in my attic. Can you get that out?’ ‘I need some chicken wire around my deck.’ I thought, this is some dumb stuff.” 

He closed up Mr. Odd Jobs, met someone through an organization called Entrepreneur Works, and formed a partnership with that person to open a new company called GLS, which stood for Green Light Solutions. The first thing he learned was that a partnership without planning is precarious. “I slowly but surely realized that we should have had a lot of things written down on paper because having a partner in business is like having a marriage. I realize that because I’m married now, so I understand what went wrong,” he laughs. 
He took GLS to himself, and as a result of some hard work and long days, he’s built the business to a point where those long days are few and far between. “I was basically a one- or two-man operation for a long time,” he said. “Now we’re up to three crews. I have six employees, three trucks and a billboard. I wouldn’t say I own my town — I serve my town — but we are most certainly a household name.” 

What Fyfe tries to do for his customers is take down the stress factor. In fact, that’s the company slogan: “Don’t stress, call GLS.” He shows up when he’s supposed to; he answers the phone when they call. “I’m a guest in your home, so I wear booties. I’m very clean. I let you know the process on how everything is going or our project, and 90% of the time you’re getting the proposal on the spot. If we win the project, I put you into the calendar and everything is pretty much streamlined. We are professional. We’re going to do exactly what we said we were going to do. No ifs, ands or buts about it.” 

“Always eating and having conversations” 

Painting Crew

With plans to expand to 10 painters, nearly double the size he is now, hiring is an important part of the to-do list. Yet, he’s not stressed — this is GLS. “I currently do not have hiring issues because I learned how to hire efficiently,” he said, “and what I know is that we have to market to painters or prospective employees the same way we market to our clients, if not even better. When I need to hire, I put ads out on Indeed and I work to make sure they stay the top of the list every week. “We do extensive background checks. I use a platform called goodhire.com; they do fast background checks.” 

Once he hires, he has to train, and as Fyfe himself no longer paints, he’s got time to make sure the crews learn their stuff. It’s still a challenge; he’s still looking at ways to make this process more effective. Inexperienced painters start out watching the PCA’s “Trade Best Practice Series” to learn the ropes of a new trade. “After watching these videos, they are ready to hit the field running, because they’ve had an introduction to the painting industry as opposed to me just talking to them for an hour or two about how this is a great company and what you’re going to do while you’re here. 

“We have a meeting every Monday at 6 a.m. at Panera,” he continued. “I buy them breakfast once or twice a month, but we’re always eating and having conversations. I told them at the start of the year, ‘I am invested in each and every one of you. I want to take you from being regular professionals to being extreme craftsmen over the next couple of months. You already know how to do your job. I need you to be the people that we read about in these magazines.” And here he is, one of the people we read about in these magazines. APC 
 

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