FAR-FLUNG PARTNERSHIP: Ed Jackowski and Tom Brunelle have been friends since childhood, sharing a love of music and playing in bands together as teens. Now they’ve teamed up again, buying a School of Rock music education franchise and opening in Norwood as business partners – 3,000 miles apart.
Jackowski, 43, lives in Walpole. Brunelle, 45, lives in California, where he is a producer for E! Entertainment Television and also has a partnership with Chelsea Handler in their own production company. The distance between the friends and business partners is not as daunting as it once was, Jackowski said.
“Tom and I have been creating original music for years,” Jackowski said. “In the pre-digital days, we’d FedEx tapes back and forth to one another, and then when he’d come home to visit family, we’d record together.”
Jackowski worked in sales for a national distributor of home-remodeling projects for many years, and when business soured after the economic downturn in 2008, he was talking to Brunelle about what to do next. Brunelle had seen many School of Rock franchises in California and broached the idea with Jackowski about partnering up to buy one back home.
“He said we’ve always been friends and band partners, what about being business partners?” Jackowski said. “I’d done franchise development for Subway for a while, and when I looked at the School of Rock, it clicked with me.”
The partners planned a grand opening March 30, at the 1250 Washington St. location. Jackowski said the school will also hold open houses every Saturday in April and May from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The school offers a variety of musical instruction, he said, and will be a club-like setting where students can hang out and socialize, before and after lessons.
The school is for students ages 7 to 18, and plans are in the works for a “Little Wing” program for younger students. If demand calls for it, the school will hold adult programs as well, Jackowski said.
Students in the program also do group performances, he said, playing on the school’s full stage and in public. He said the company is trying to line up using the Showcase Live venue in Foxborough.
“The program is focused on performance,” he said. “You learn faster when you play with others. We give individual lessons coupled with group performances; it keeps the kids’ interest level high and makes them want to practice more at home.”
The Norwood school is the third franchise location in Massachusetts, Jackowski said, the others in Seekonk and Watertown. He and Brunelle have a deal to open two more, one in Natick, the other in the Braintree area. They decided on the Norwood location because of favorable demographics, Jackowski said, an area with “great school systems and lots of families. And with so many schools cutting back on programs like music, we saw this as a great opportunity to fill that void.”
The distance between partners isn’t as bad as it used to be, he said.
“Now, with our security cameras all over the place, Tom can sit back in Hollywood and watch what’s happening any time he wants,” Jackowski said.
And, for the record, the Jack Black movie “School of Rock” came out after the franchise started in Philadelphia in 1998, one that’s since grown to 70 locations in the United States and seven abroad, Jackowski said. “They were more than happy to have the name used in the movie,” which is about Black’s teacher character using music to get youngsters out of their shells, Jackowski said. “Our school operates in the same vein; it gets kids to come out of their shell and come alive on stage.”
For more information on the school, visit www.schoolofrock.com/norwood.
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Mary Schrader of Scituate has joined HarborOne as vice president of compliance, and has more than 30 years of banking experience, most recently serving as vice president and team leader at RBS Citizens Bank in Providence.
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