“I was single, 21 years old, in debt, and $200 away from law school,” Ray Melillo remembers, “when my buddy showed me a business he had gotten started in. He was a fraternity brother of mine who had gone off to law school. He came home one weekend and talked to me about this business in his car at 1:00 in the morning…the rest is history!
“Living at home at the time didn’t give me an edge by any means. I remember my mom being so negative about me starting a business. That wasn’t the path she thought I should be on. Dad was even worse. Believe me, it was strong motivation to get out of the house.
“It was a part-time business, but I had a lot of spare time, so I was working on it night and day. The next thing I knew, I was making more money than I ever made working full time. So, I was able to retire from my job at the ripe old age of 23. I’ve been my own boss ever since.”
Today at their comfortable home in the Hudson Valley of New York, Ray and his wife, Joanne, enjoy the fruits of their work, along with their three sons, Joe, Nick, and Anthony. They also enjoy working together to pass the dream on to others. The reality of raising a family in this business as ‘free’ parents has created even more excitement throughout the years for so many other NY based families.
As a legal secretary in Manhattan, Joanne was very disillusioned about her future. While still single, she met Ray at a business meeting. Not long after that, they were married. “I thank God every day that we found each other. As a result, my sons have a very secure family life and, most importantly, I don’t need to worry about who their hero will be, because it’s always been their dad.”
With their success, Ray and Joanne also give their time and energy to support worthwhile charities. They are especially active supporting Easter Seals and the U.S. Dream Academy because of the programs these organizations have developed to meet the needs of children and returning veterans. The Melillos truly understand the value of helping others and have made it a priority in their life.
“Because of our business, I have been able to fulfill many lifelong dreams not available to me growing up,” says Joanne. “Becoming a championship ballroom dancer was one of them and owning a summer home by the water is another. Travel was never an option either, but here we’ve been blessed to travel the world as a family. It doesn’t get much better than that!”