Be your own boss! Do something you love and become a successful business owner in just one year! It sounds like a late-night TV pitch that’s too good to be true. Even Anthony Fanning can barely believe it, and it happened to him.
“It’s been a big surprise — the fact that it happened so fast,” he says. “It’s a real blessing.”
What makes Anthony’s story even more remarkable is that it started with him leaving jail in March of 2014, burdened with a drug-related felony conviction. For the next several months, he searched for work without success.
At least five different employers showed interest in him, but none hired him.
“You make it to the interview, and then the background comes up, and there it goes — down the drain,” he recalls. “Looking for work was real difficult, even though I had satisfied the courts.”
The toll on his emotions was difficult as well. Watching helplessly from the sidelines as his wife, who is employed by a pharmacy company, worked extensive overtime to carry the financial burden for him and their two children was depressing, he said.
Anthony’s older brother told him to try Goodwill Career Solutions. His brother earned his forklift certification through Goodwill and found employment, and he felt like the not-for-profit could help Anthony as well.
In May Anthony attended a job fair at the Goodwill Career Solutions Center in Downtown Nashville. He returned in July, met with a career counselor and completed job readiness, online job search and computer basics training.
“I went in hoping I could get pointed in the right direction on a career as opposed to just continuing to hunt for jobs,” he said.
One day, a Goodwill employee suggested that, because Anthony had occasionally worked as a construction laborer, Career Solutions’ construction training program might be a good fit for him. Anthony decided to give it a try.
Right away, Tim Kahn, the program’s instructor, could tell Anthony had the drive to succeed.
“He was hungry to learn — one of those guys who is a go-getter from day one,” Kahn recalls. “He was an exceptional student as far as picking up on new skills quickly and always staying involved. I usually had to chase him out at the end of the day.”
During the six-week program, Anthony got hands-on experience using a wide variety of tools. He also learned to use blueprints and got a solid foundation in the trade.
By the time the Nashville resident graduated from the six-week course in September of 2014, he had built a plan for his future.
For a few months, he worked for relatives to amass some funds. Then, in February of 2015, he founded Imperial Home Repair Services LLC. Anthony recalls that day clearly.
“I was smiling from ear-to-ear,” he said. “My wife was excited, too. We knew we were stepping into a new realm of life.”
The company, which he runs from home with the help of his wife, tackles small construction projects in the Nashville area — from painting to bathroom remodeling to installation of floors, doors and windows.
Business began slow, but word-of-mouth grew, and by the end of 2015 Anthony was doing more than a project a month. He bought a truck for his company, and looks forward to being able to hire a helper and purchase office space.
“Life is a lot better now,” he said. “We’re not stressing over finances all the time, and my wife is able to spend more time at home with the kids. I make my own schedule, so it’s real nice.”
What’s more, Anthony, who is 32, is still working to better his future. He recently secured his heating, ventilation and air conditioning license. He also stays in close contact with the instructor whose class set him on a new and better path.
“I always had a lot of questions for Tim (Kahn), and I call him to this day for help with bidding or different types of work,” he said. “I loved that class. Goodwill helped me build confidence, and it helped me focus on improving my life.”
— By Chris Fletcher
Prior to joining Goodwill as its PR & Communications Manager in 2014, Fletcher was a professional journalist for
more than 25 years working at media outlets in three states, including the Associated Press.