The first thing one might want to ask Franco Piscitelli, the new president of the Killingworth Chamber of Commerce, is whether Killingworth has enough commerce to fill a chamber.
“We have commerce,” Franco says, only slightly defensively. “We have businesses.”
While admitting that the Chamber is on the small side—it has only about 140 members—Franco, a financial advisor at the Guilford office of the Barnum Financial Group, says its size can be a virtue.
Also a member of the much larger and busier Shoreline Chamber of Commerce, which covers Guilford, Branford, and North Branford, Franco says that in the Killingworth group, “networking is easier.”
Although the Killingworth Chamber has some bigger companies on its roster—Franco cites the restaurant La Foresta and the True Value hardware store—many of its members are what he calls “home businesses.”
Of particular advantage to those businesses, Franco says, is the Chamber’s monthly newsletter, the Killingworth Krier, which limits its advertising to Chamber members.
Franco joined the Chamber in 2011, shortly after moving from Guilford with his wife, Elysia.
“I figured it would be a great way for me to promote my business and network,” he says, “but also just another way to be a part of the community as well.”
He joined the Chamber board in 2014.
Another possible advantage of a small Chamber is the simplicity of becoming its president.
“It wasn’t a long-drawn-out election like the one we just saw,” Franco says.
When the most recent president stepped down early this year, Tim Gannon, who founded the Killingworth Chamber back in the 1990s, asked Franco if he was interested in the job. The board voted him in this spring.
Franco has solid shoreline roots. He was born in New Haven in 1981, but moved to Branford as a child with his parents, both of whom emigrated from southern Italy, where Franco’s four older brothers were born.
His father worked in manufacturing in the area.
“He was, you know, a factory guy,” says Franco, “a hard-working, traditional immigrant.”
Franco attended Branford public schools and then enrolled in Southern Connecticut State University. He commuted from home, working to cover his tuition.
“I paid for college,” he says. “About a year or so before I graduated, I quit my full time job just to focus on education.”
Franco earned a B.A. in economics.
“I was the first to graduate from college in my family,” he says.
With his degree in hand, he interviewed in the financial-services industry.
“The reason why I chose Barnum over the other ones,” he says, “was really because of the resources that are available to Barnum advisers compared to some of the other firms. They really give you a solid footing here to get your business going, in terms of education, resources, support. I just didn’t feel there was that type of level of support with other firms.
“You know,” he adds, “if I’d started somewhere else, I don’t think I’d still be in the business. Being in financial services, it’s difficult to maintain a long career.”
Franco says that Barnum was founded in Stratford in the 1950s and that the name was chosen because the 19th-century showman P.T. Barnum had lived and worked in nearby Bridgeport. Asked about the irony of naming a financial-services company after the man who supposedly said, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” Franco smiles and says, “We get that a lot.”
Franco met Elysia, who grew up in North Branford, through her younger sister, who was in his circle of friends.
“My wife kind of started hanging around,” he says.
Married in 2010, they first lived in Guilford in a condo near Lake Quonnipaug, which was a change from Branford.
“It’s a really quiet, rural area up there,” says Franco.
Killingworth was more of the same.
“It can take 20 minutes to get a gallon of milk,” Franco says. “It’s not so bad for us because we live closer to the rotary.”
Their son, Marcello (“a nice, strong Italian name,” says Franco), is in kindergarten. Elysia, who works in online marketing from home, handles the primary care, but Marcello keeps his father busy on weekends.
“Sunday is usually football day,” Franco says. “All day.” Franco roots for the Jets; Elysia for the Dallas Cowboys.
Marcello’s allegiance, Franco says, “depends on who dresses him that day.”
To nominate a Person of the Week, contact Tom Conroy at t.conroy@Zip06.com.