There are so many factors a high school upperclassman considers when choosing a college. It might come as a surprise to some that Ford’s Colony resident Colby Franken sought a college experience that reflected the values of his family’s business. To those who know Colby and his family, though, this is no surprise.
Colby’s mother, Stacy, and his late father, Howard, have been pillars of the small business community in Williamsburg, initially owning Franken Inc., a family-owned, full-service plumbing company before acquiring the Mr. Rooter franchise in Williamsburg. Serving the community runs in this family’s blood; Howard, a Master Plumber and Class A Contractor, was the fourth generation owner of Franken Inc. and came from a long line of well-regarded tradesmen in the Newport News area.
When Colby visited High Point University in North Carolina, he knew it was the right place for him. “It is one of the nicest campuses I have ever seen, but also they have a code of values that resembled those of our Mr. Rooter business,” says Colby.
Stacy was also very impressed with the leadership at High Point. “The president of the college is very involved with the school and you don’t always see that,” explains Stacy. “He has invested a lot of his own time and money into making the students successful and even teaches a freshman Life Skills course. They invest a lot in the students who attend the college.”
Aside from the code of values, Colby was also impressed by the president. “He cares about his students’ lives and it reminded me of how my mom cares about her employees like family,” he says.
Colby has been working in the family business, even learning how to dig sewer lines alongside his dad, since he was in elementary school. After his father passed away, he took a more active role in the company working full time in the summers and part time during the school year whether going on service jobs or assisting his Mom in the office.
Despite his ample experience in the plumbing industry, Colby forged his own path during his time at Lafayette High School where he played varsity basketball during his junior and senior years and was a member of the newspaper staff.
“My intended major is Sports Communications and I love everything about the program that they have at High Point. They have a lot of guest speakers and students get to attend events regularly. I will also have the opportunity to get an internship as a freshman and be involved with the sports teams,” he says.
In the future, Colby would like to be a commentator, and possibly go on to a bigger TV broadcasting company or work for a professional team.
Colby’s positive outlook for the future can best be attributed to his faith and his mother’s tireless work ethic.
Originally assisting Howard by managing the company’s office business, Stacy found herself leading the Mr. Rooter franchise that they had just purchased in 2017. “I had a brand new business with two young kids, and I was just trying to pick up the pieces. I just wanted to cry in bed every day, but did not have a choice—I had to keep going,” she says.
The business, along with raising two kids, kept Stacy very busy. “Sometimes I don’t even know how I got by, but I did. It was a whirlwind. I have taught my kids that through tough times, you just have to keep going and sometimes you will have bad days. We just have to be positive. Unfortunately, things happen, but they make us stronger.”
Stacy also reminds Colby and her daughter Paige that they have each other. “After we lost Howard, we were reminded of just how precious family is. We are very family oriented and try not to take it for granted,” she says. “We realize that we don’t know how long we have together.”
Stacy, Colby, and Paige enjoy an annual family beach trip over the Fourth of July to Corolla which has been a tradition they shared since they were babies.
When not spending time with her children, Stacy is proudly leading her Mr. Rooter team. “We have wonderful employees and I believe in treating them well,” she says. Under her leadership, the company has seen tremendous success and projects sales of over $3 million by the end of this year.
When Colby begins college this fall, his thoughts will never be too far from home. “I always remember that my Dad came from nothing, and he and my mom were successful because of hard work,” he says. Colby looks forward to applying his parent’s work ethic and values as he begins a new chapter of his life at High Point University.