Andrew Tomasetti, of Holland, was once pretty certain about what he wanted his future to look like: serving as a pilot for the Marine Corps Reserves.
However, an eye condition prevented this vision from becoming a reality, and he was forced to change tack. Luckily, this 27-year-old discovered a new calling in life, one that’s helping individuals and families throughout the region feel as comfortable as possible in their homes: owning and operating PAINT Philadelphia, an interior and exterior residential painting contractor that’s looking to give a deserving homeowner free services in the coming months.
Nominations are currently open for PAINT It Forward, an initiative launched by Tomasetti and his team last year. It allows residents in Bucks County, Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County and South Jersey to nominate a household that’s deserving of a free paint job, which typically ranges from $5,000 to $7,000.
“PAINT It Forward is an amazing program that lets us offer our services to a family that needs painting services, but may not have the means to do so. The best part is, it was our team’s idea,” said Tomasetti. “We started our business during a very unstable time and our team felt compelled to give back to our community that gave us so much.”
PAINT Philadelphia was founded by Tomasetti in 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As countless businesses shuttered their doors, many never to reopen again, the painting contractor thrived. When it came out on the other side of those dark days stronger than ever, PAINT Philadelphia set out to spread some happiness in the community, and thus, PAINT It Forward was born.
The inaugural recipient in 2023, selected by the PAINT Philadelphia team, was single mom Nicole and her 9-year-old daughter Lily, the latter of whom is a three-time cancer survivor. Tomasetti and PAINT Philadelphia painted the entire interior of their Hatboro home, which the family never had a chance to do because of the cost. After a consultation with a designer to discuss colors, the project was completed in a day by 10 workers, all of whom donated their time. All materials were donated by vendors.
“I think for someone like Lily and Nicole who have been going through difficult times really since Lily was born, it really just makes their house feel like a home, and gives them some comfort to come home and to feel like it’s theirs,” said Tomasetti. “They’re comfortable and it’s a safe place for them.”
This year, if the recipient of the giveaway opts for an interior paint job, Tomasetti has engaged the services of designer Rachel Zimmerman, of InLiquid, to help the winner select paint colors and add a few pieces of art to go in the home.
“Getting the color right the first time is one of the most important parts of any painting project,” said Tomasetti. “It doesn’t matter how great of a job our team does if the color is not exactly what the homeowner envisioned.”
For Tomasetti, his unexpected journey to founding PAINT Philadelphia began during his quest to become a pilot. As he was preparing to graduate from Temple University with a degree in engineering, he was running a small painting business on the side to make some extra money. Growing up with a handyman father, the work came naturally to him.
Tomasetti previously trained with the Reserves shortly after graduating from Council Rock South. Once he secured his college degree, he was welcome to return and become an officer and pilot, no extensive flying experience required.
However, his plans came to a screeching halt when he underwent — and failed — a mandatory physical in Pensacola, Florida. It was determined that Tomasetti has amblyopia, an eye condition caused by the nerve pathways between the brain and eye not being properly stimulated, which results in poor vision in one or both eyes that can’t be corrected by glasses.
Despite being told that he’d never be a pilot, Tomasetti was determined to prove everyone wrong. He underwent extensive vision therapy over the course of 40 weeks, working to improve the connection between the eyes and brain. It was slow and difficult, but at the end of it, he was able to put on glasses and properly see with 20/20 vision.
Tomasetti, armed with doctors’ referrals, returned to the Reserves and was able to head back to Pensacola to undergo another physical. This time, he passed, but his happiness was short-lived. The next phase of the exam — having his eyes dilated — showed that the measurements of his eyes weren’t up to standard. He failed yet again, and for the final time.
Once home, Tomasetti found solace in his painting business, which he was still managing all along.
“I had a pretty good foundation,” he said. “And then I was able to hire painters that were way better than me at painting, and I think they’re really the reason for our success.”
PAINT Philadelphia, which was previously independent, officially became an LLC in 2020. In conjunction with its services, which include interior and exterior painting, wallpaper removal, drywall repair and more, it has one key mission as its focus.
“We want to make the world a more beautiful place, one paint job at a time,” said Tomasetti. “For us, this means going beyond just offering a fantastic experience for our team members and customers, but really asking ourselves, ‘What have we done to leave a positive mark on the communities we serve and to help others achieve their American Dream?’ This is one way we can do so, and we gain an incredible amount of joy by doing it.”
PAINT It Forward nominations are being accepted through Feb. 29, and can be submitted at paintphilly.com/charity-events/. Send a brief description of why you believe the person should be nominated and how PAINT Philadelphia can help. All submissions are kept confidential. The winner will be announced in March.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org