I also love numbers and have always thrived in math and science. This gift propelled me into AP Calculus in high school and graduating with a 3.33 GPA and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State in 2000. This is the side of my brain I chose to follow to earn a living... the analytical side. I loved engineering and was so thrilled to receive an offer to join the Edison Engineering Development Program at GE Gas Turbines in Greenville, SC. I sold out for the first 13 months at GE, pouring over 100 hours per week into my job, earning stock options, and putting myself into an advanced management opportunity in my 20's. I had the world by the tail.
I had 4 life-changing events in August & September 2001 as I sat perched atop the world in my engineering career outlook. My girlfriend (and now wife) Teresa and I spent 9 days in early August in the Fiji Islands SCUBA diving and enjoying the Fijian culture. There was a freedom we enjoyed that I wanted WAY more of, but I knew I'd never get it working from a desk as an engineer. In late August, I was in a private Lunch & Learn with our VP of Engineering, along with 15 of my fellow management fast-trackers. I idolized this man and wanted to be him, until he answered a personal question with complete honesty. "If you want to have my job and my life, you will have to give up your personal life and sell out to the company. I live here in Greenville and my wife lives in Atlanta." My Why has always been family. Teresa and I were wanting to get married and this dagger from my hero ripped my heart out. I started seeing all of the divorces and office hook-ups around me after this meeting. I didn't like what I saw and didn't want to end up like them. A few weeks later, the world was shaken when two planes flew into the Twin Towers. I was 11 hours away from my family and I felt helpless. In late September, Teresa and I watched my favorite movie to this day for the first time. "Family Man" starring Nicolas Cage shows the man I was on my way to becoming a glimpse of the man I could have been if I kept family as my Why.
One year later, Teresa and I were new Christians, engaged, out of South Carolina, and living in Upstate New York. This was a lot closer to my family, but still not the goal. I was still at GE, but my work performance was declining as we entered the entrepreneurial world. We started 3 businesses on the side of my GE job to scratch the creative itch within me for over a decade. One of those businesses was Carfagno Cleaning. It was NOT supposed to be our future. I was fired from GE in October 2005. My heart gave up in September 2001 and it took 4 more years for my managers to realize it. We were now self-employed and scared to death!
It's been a difficult road, but we've been faithful in our calling, faithful to our Lord, flexible with our time to grow our family, and happier than engineering could ever have provided. It's true we struggled financially for a long time, but it was worth it. I would not change a single thing. I chose a career path that granted me the flexibility to choose when and how I connect with my family. Plus, I followed my first love in the creative arts. Running my own company and now coaching other cleaning business owners nationally has scratched every itch I've ever had. I love serving others and seeing them win. Cleaning hasn't always been an easy business as I've had many difficult days, weeks, and even years. But overall, my life is fulfilling because I get to create my own future and celebrate with my family the way that I choose.
That's why I left engineering to run Carfagno Cleaning.
If you'd like to learn more about my story, check out these resources:
Ken Carfagno is a presentation cleaning specialist serving the Indian Valley, PA.