As Robert Frost reminds us, good fences make good neighbors. But Kennett Square resident Eric Schott goes one step further. The mission of his business, Fenced 4 Life LLC, is to build great fences that will stand the test of time. Schott has made a lot of great fences—and neighbors—across the local area over the years.
“Quality work for a fair price” is how he describes the business model of Fenced 4 Life, and Schott’s pride in his work is as deeply rooted as his fence posts. “When I drive by fences I’ve built I want to see them standing and looking great,” he says. His practiced, expert eye sees it all, and on the rare occasion when he sees a section sagging after he’s finished a job, he goes back to fix it. “Customers don’t notice, but I do,” he says.
With this commitment to quality and Schott’s passion for putting people first, it’s little wonder that the business has grown by word of mouth. He insists on 100% customer satisfaction and doesn’t accept any payment from his customers until the work is completed to everyone’s satisfaction—the customer’s as well as his own.
Schott offers competitive pricing significantly below that of other companies, and he and his small, trusty crew work long hours with the goal of completing each job in a single weekend. The scope of work and quote (including the wholesale supply discount that he passes on to his customers) are all written into the contract Schott draws up for each customer. “The contract helps both of us—you know what you’re getting and I know what I’m doing,” he says.
“I take every job I do and pretend it’s my house,” Schott says. “When I’m installing a fence, I look into the future to consider how it will hold up.” The name of the business, Fenced 4 Life, reflects his mission. “You should only have to put one fence up.”
Old-fashioned hard work and values
Schott has worked at West Grove Borough for over twenty years, where he and his crew tackle all sorts of projects in every kind of weather. The job has also given him considerable experience in creative problem-solving and customer service. “As Borough employees, we’re public servants,” he says, “and as a business owner I understand how important it is to have good communication and build trust.” He’s also naturally mechanically inclined. “There’s nothing I can’t figure out,” he says, and he enjoys the process of designing solutions to meet the unique challenges that every fence project presents—from hills and valleys to crossing creeks without disturbing them.
Over the years, Schott, who learned the craft of building fences through experience, asking lots of questions, and watching online videos, has installed every kind of fence—from aluminum to vinyl and post and rail—on both large and small residential and commercial properties. With so many different kinds of fences, as well as special requirements for properties with pools and various considerations for families with pets and children, Schott is happy to advise. His personal favorite is a slip board fence built with treated posts and hemlock rails. “It’s nice and neat,” he says.
Schott takes pride in doing almost everything by hand, without the kind of equipment that tears up a customer’s property. “We do things the old-fashioned way,” he says with a laugh. “We rent equipment and bring it in if we need it for bigger jobs, but it’s not necessary for most jobs.” He loves that the work is hands on and he relishes the satisfaction of a job well done.
Fenced 4 Life’s above-and-beyond customer care and commitment set the business apart, too. “There’s no substitute for that personal touch and building a relationship of trust with the customer,” Schott says. It’s the kind of care, for example, that propelled him to work around the clock to complete a fence ahead of a customer’s baby shower.
A family business rooted in community
“The only thing I was taught in life is to work hard,” Schott says. “If you’re going to do something, do it right. Learn your craft and work hard.” He in turn has passed this work ethic on to his nephew, who has helped him over the years, and he’s instilling it in his son Nathan, who enjoys helping his dad, and other young apprentices as well. He values his employees and compensates his workers well for their hard work. “They get a free lunch, too,” he says with a grin.
As is true with many small businesses, the encouragement of the entire family is important. Schott’s wife Dena is supportive of his venture and understanding of the long weekend hours involved, and she and their daughter Ava often bring refreshments for the crew on grueling hot and humid days.
Schott is also grateful to his good friends and neighbors who have helped him set up his small business so that it’s as solid as his fences. Lorenzo Merino, SVP, Director of Lending at True Access Capital and Kennett Collaborative Board member, has been a strong advocate from the first days when the two fathers brainstormed names for the business from the sidelines of their sons’ football games. Merino has been an invaluable source of wisdom and guidance through the process and also introduced Schott to his brother, Raul Merino, an asset protection planner with Liberty Business Group, Inc. who helped Schott create the LLC as well as his logo.
Lorenzo Merino is also helping Schott to think through next steps for growing his business in a way that will enable him to take it to the next level without sacrificing the quality and personal touch that are his trademarks.
“A fence is like an addition to your house,” Schott says. “It’s an investment that can transform your property and make it safer. It’s a good feeling to put up a ‘fence for life’ that’s built to last.”
To contact Fenced 4 Life for a free estimate, email Eschott1452@yahoo.com or call (484)459-5229
Photos by Lorenzo Merino