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Monday, April 02, 2007

Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News

Marc Caroselli, 53, found his niche in carpentry.

Career Makeover

Ex-ad accountant nails down bright future

Marc Caroselli's love of tinkering and repairing things around the house leads to handyman business.

Brian J. O'Connor / The Detroit News


Marc Caroselli

Home: Livonia, married
Born: Detroit,1953
Education: Southfield High School, 1972; Michigan State University, 1976
Old career: Advertising agency account director
New career: Call Your
Son, a home handyman service

Work tips

"A key point of Marc's story relates to what I call his 'retire-mentality,' -- what retirement means to him," says career coach Prudence Cole of Grosse Pointe, author of the Web site "Everyone needs to consider this issue, and the sooner, the better."
  • Tap your talents: What do you like to do? What do you do well? Ask family and friends what they think. Recognize and use your talents.
    See beyond the ordinary: Identify your favorite talent and write down all the ideas about how you could use this talent, from the sublime to the ridiculous. When you have at least 20 ideas you can start to consider what might be possible for you.
    Retire-mentality -- It is not uncommon for people to plan the financial end of retirement. However few plan for the meaningful aspects. What will you do in retirement to keep yourself vital, active and a benefit to society?

    Have you remade your career?

    Did you switch from engineering to sales? Escape the boss from hell? Use your severance pay as seed money to start a small business? The Detroit News wants to hear from readers who've successfully remade their jobs, professions and careers for future stories. To tell your story, e-mail Personal Finance Editor Brian O'Connor at


  • Marc Caroselli will tell you he's always enjoyed fixing up things. Now he's fixing up his career.

    After being laid off from a high-level job in advertising, the 53-year-old Livonia man is launching "Call Your Son," a home handyman service.

    "I always have a project going or I'm helping a friend," Caroselli says. "For the last 10 years I was always talking about starting a business as a handyman. Every house I've been in has 100 things they need done."

    Where he came from: After graduating and a stint as an insurance adjuster and other jobs, Caroselli was hired in the mail room at BBDO Detroit in 1978. "My family was always in advertising on the creative side," he notes, but Caroselli moved up on the business side of the agency.

    After the loss of a major account he moved to another ad shop, only to return a few years later, working on Dodge car and truck accounts, including the Viper and Dakota. After BBDO bought Ross Roy Communications, Caroselli moved there, eventually becoming an account director.

    Even then, he notes, he was tackling home fix-up projects large and small, from tiling to expanding bathrooms. "Even during the Dakota launch I was doing my basement," he adds.

    What changed: In February 2006, the agency laid off 300 staff. "You always think that, 'It's not going to be me,' but it was," he says.

    Overall, he spent a year looking for a job. "What I found I wasn't excited about. I don't know if anybody wants people my age right now, and Detroit's very tough right now," he says. "Advertising is like baseball: they're always looking for the young candidates. It was time to move on."

    Moment of truth: While on vacation, Caroselli decided to set a limit on his job hunt, then pursue the handyman business.

    "I said if nothing happens by October, I m going to start."

    When October came, he started pursuing his builder's license taking business classes at Schoolcraft College, and working on his business plan. One focus was developing a business he could cut back but continue in retirement.

    Stumbling blocks: Initially, Caroselli thought he might focus on garage work, but realized that business would be too slow in winter. He ruled out franchises because he didn't want to risk his finances paying for a business he could develop himself.

    State paperwork was a challenge, too. "Getting all the little things to start a business takes more than you think," he says.

    Another issue has been getting people to understand the nature of his business, which does not cover household chores.

    "People ask if I want to clean their gutters, and I don't do gutters," he says. "I'm trying to be a craftsman. I want to make things that you're living with, like the door that's rubbing on the carpet, I want to take care of that."

    Words of wisdom: Caroselli stresses the value of classes for learning what it takes to get a business going and a business plan worked out, and singles out Schoolcraft College.

    One step that he skipped: advertising. "I was going to do the whole advertising business, and work around neighborhoods and drop off flyers," he says. Instead, he found it better to rely on friends and referrals.

    "You're walking into someone's house, and you really have to be recommended by someone."

    For Caroselli, the focus is on interesting work and building the business. "I'm set, I worked my butt off for years, my kids are out of school and I want something that challenges me, keeps me busy and gives me something good as I grow old," he says. "I'd rather do this than work at Wal-Mart."

    You can reach Brian O'Connor at (313) 222-2145 or

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