Under the ‘Rainbow’: Restoration franchise latest venture for seasoned business couple

STEPHEN SWOFFORD / NNY Business Sissy and Michael Colello, owners of Rainbow Restoration.

Seasoned business owners Sissy and Michael Colello bought Watertown Rainbow Restoration franchise in April 2015. Mr. Colello was previously a partner with his father and brother in Frontenac Crystal Springs water.

NNY Business

For 25 years, Rainbow Restoration of Watertown has cleaned, restored, and reconstructed homes damaged by fire and water. When the company was born, it started as a cleaning and rug-dyeing service. Today it is a full-service restoration company with seasoned business owners Sissy and Michael Colello at the helm.

The husband and wife finalized the sale of the company in April 2015. A week into operations, their 25-year-old daughter, Arika, stepped in as marketing manager and to assist with insurance claims.

STEPHEN SWOFFORD / NNY Business Sissy and Michael Colello, owners of Rainbow Restoration.

Sissy and Michael Colello, owners of Rainbow Restoration.

Despite only operating the business for a year and a half, the Colellos have been local business owners since 1992.

“My grandfather bought F K Gailey, a petroleum company in LaFargeville, in 1965,” Michael Colello, vice president of operations said. “I started working there in 1985 and then bought the company in 1992. Shortly thereafter we became a franchisee for the Dunkin’ Donuts in Watertown, overseeing six locations. A short time later, I bought in to Frontenac Crystal Springs water with my father and brother. We sold that company in 2013.”

Mr. Colello went to work for Rainbow Restoration shortly thereafter. He told the owners that if they ever wanted to sell the company, that he’d buy. When the opportunity came up, the Colellos stepped up. Today, Rainbow Restoration is a woman-owned company with 10 employees.

“We’ve always had our own businesses,” Mr. Colello said. “We’ve never really worked for anyone else, with the exception of when I worked with the owners at Rainbow before we bought it. Some people aren’t meant to work for large companies or somebody else and I think that’s me. I’m not a good employee and I don’t do well by committee. I also don’t take direction very well at all.”

Mrs. Colello, who holds the job of company president, laughs at this statement, noting that the two don’t always see eye-to-eye. They know what it takes to run a business, for sure. They also know there are times when the pressure is high and tolerance of one another is low.

“Sometimes it can be a challenge,” Sissy Colello said. “One of us might be in a bad mood, but we try to keep that out of the office. We can’t let the rest of our employees see that one of us is driving the other crazy and have it affect the business. We learn to separate it from day to day operations.”

In truth, they work together quite well. But they’re only human. In the end, their goal is to operate a successful business that serves its customers and employees well.

“We go to work every day and do our best to take care of our people and continue to work to grow our business,” Mrs. Colello, company president added. “We see the struggles they have with their own families and red tape with health insurance and we want to do everything we can to grow this company enough so that we can help them as much as we can.”

The Colellos have three grown daughters, each in their 20s. Arika is the only one who presently works in the family business, and does so by choice. Their youngest daughter is still in college and their oldest works in Watertown at Car-Freshner Corp.

Will they become business owners themselves some day? It’s possible, but it’s nothing Sissy and Michael Colello push.

“We encourage all of our girls to explore other opportunities,” Mrs. Colello said. “We don’t want our girls to feel like they have to come and work with mom and dad. If they have something else in mind, we are totally OK with that.”

In the 18 months since they bought the Rainbow franchise, the Colellos have worked to improve all aspects of the business. More than anything, they want to see growth so that their employees feel safe and secure and so they have something to pass on to the succeeding generation.

“We want to do the best we can with this company so we can leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren, if that’s something they want,” Mrs. Colello said. “I find running a business exciting and rewarding, especially when you see the potential a company has. Rainbow Restoration definitely has potential.”

“It’s all about good leadership,” Mr. Colello added. “If you’re a good leader, when things go good, it’s a win for everybody. But when they don’t go so well, it’s all on you as a business owner and you’ve got to be able to handle that.”

Rainbow Restoration, Watertown’s smoke and fire restorations specialists, are located on Coleman Avenue in Watertown and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit them at rainbowintl.com/watertown or call 786-7269.