Both Al and Mary Anne Fratantuono were building careers in the defense industry. Al was an electronic engineer, working on state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems for U.S. Naval surface warships, and Mary Anne was involved in computer-aided naval ship design and construction. Both Al and Mary Anne had always been very serious about their careers, but after years of waking in the dark to commute to work, and then driving home after dark in the gridlock around Washington DC, they were beginning to feel frustrated.
Through a chance encounter, they were introduced to a business they could pursue in their spare time. Though they had few hours to spare, and no background in business, they were intrigued, but still never imagined it would lead to anything full-time. “We remember the days when we didn’t think we would ever have a chance like this in life. Our self-images were such that we thought everyone else would do better than us. But anyone can build a business, if you have a dream and just go for it.”
They devoted their spare time to their business, and it grew quickly; in just a few years they were able to become full-time business partners at last. In their large, comfortable home in Brookville, Maryland, they were finally able to schedule their business around their life. “In short, we lived life to its fullest, rather than just watching it go by.” Through their success, they were also able to mentor other budding entrepreneurs who also wanted to start their own business, and who would come to the Fratantuonos for advice.
Sadly, Al passed away in 2013, but Mary Anne continues to devote herself to the business they built together. With their success, Mary Anne also gives her time and energy to support worthwhile charities. She is 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. Mary Anne truly understands the value of helping others and has made it a priority in her life.
Their advice: “There’s no question that the life of an entrepreneur can work for anyone. It has always made a lot of sense, but even more so in today’s financial climate of cutbacks, layoffs, pink slips, and pension uncertainties, having your own business is a smart move.”