It’s hard to believe Tina and Steve Farrell moved to Florida with nearly nothing. Following family from Long Island, N.Y., the childhood sweethearts, now married 30 years, worked hard to build what they have today.
“Steve worked whatever jobs he could get. He started out cleaning parking lots for $50 a night,” Tina says of her husband, who tried out a few trades, starting with flooring, then roofing. Steve was fired from his first flooring job for “working too hard.” His boss said he could not keep up with him. Once Steve found his niche in the roofing industry, he worked for the same company for 15 years, Tina for nine, before deciding to start their own business.
Since then, their business and charity empire has grown exponentially, allowing the couple the opportunity to touch countless lives.
In the mid-’90s, the Farrells were still relatively new to Florida and were barely making ends meet. “We were almost bankrupt when we started; it was pretty bad. After a year of still working at the same company and trying to start our own business after work, we decided to go completely on our own,” Steve says. “We had just left a good job with a steady paycheck and we started doubting ourselves. As soon as we got to our lowest point, everything turned around and the business took off like crazy.”
After starting Farrell Roofing in 2006 out of a 12-foot by 16-foot backyard shed, they began to build a legacy based on hard work and the importance of investing in one’s community.
“We started helping as soon as we were able to. The first 10 years we focused on getting this business to where it’s at, but always gave back to the community when we could. We did every charity event we were asked to do. We did Wheelchairs for Kids, Dancing With the Local Stars — everything got our name out there, and in turn, our outreach kept growing as the business grew,” Tina says.
The couple set a goal to open one business a year and have followed through, which explains the expansive evolution of the Farrell business empire. One of their most recent businesses, The Columbian Event Center in Port Richey, hosts a vast array of event from weddings, birthday parties, and baby showers, to corporate meeting, classes, and the Port Richey Rotary Club meetings. The Columbian is also home to several events organized through the Farrell’s nonprofit, Farrell Cares, which donates 100% of net proceeds to the charities they support.
The holidays seem to hold a higher purpose for the Farrells, as not only an opportunity to bring family together but community residents from every walk of life. Among their open-invitation events at The Columbian are the Halloween event “Trunk or Treat” and free dinners on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“We don’t want anyone to have to eat a holiday dinner alone,” Tina says.
So Many People in Need, So Little Time
The Farrells’ long history of giving has touched countless people and organizations, some founded by the couple themselves. Farrell Cares began organizing the annual Cotee River Bike Fest in 2018. This event is held each October in downtown New Port Richey, and since Farrell Cares took over, has 100% of net proceeds donated to charity. They also host Jeepin’ 4 Justice, an annual 100% charity event held at the Concourse Rotary Pavilion and Pasco Safety Town.
The Cotee Rivewr Bike Fest is the largest event held by Farrell Cares so far, bringing in around 30,000 people with all proceeds last year benefitting the Children’s Burn Center and The Angelus House. The Angelus House has been operating since 1979, originally taking in children with disabilities for short stays. Now, the Angelus is a full long-term residential facility for children and adults.
Steve and Tina find that the more they are able to help, the more need they encounter. “Every month there’s something else that we want to do,” Tina says. “We just finished an event for The Good Samaritan Health Clinic, auctioning off donated decorated Christmas trees. We both are on several boards for several nonprofit organizations such as the Red Apple School, the Angelus House, Port Richey Rotary Club, and Pasco County Sheriff’s Charities.
“We also sponsor a local musical group, The Bearded Brothers Band. Two years ago, they lost their violinist, Robbie Cartwright, in a motorcycle accident. Just weeks after that tragedy, we were able to raise over $100,000 for his family at a huge concert at Sims Park,” she adds. “Last year, we held another concert at The Stockyard and were able to raise over $40,000. Robbie’s family and the band members decided to purchase instruments for local schools. The instruments were presented to the kid’s in Robbie’s name.”
The Farrells are also able to use their businesses, which are primarily construction-related, to help community members in serious times of need. They have come to the rescue of families in need of hurricane damage repairs, elderly citizens, single parents needing a helping hand, and veterans in need of assistance. The Farrells donate materials and are proud to have employees who donate their skills and time.
“Some of these guys are not in a position where they can give up all their time. For them to offer their time is amazing. It gives us a stronger sense of family through all of our businesses and more of a connection with our employees,” Tina explains.
The Farrells attribute part of their success in business and in charity to a corporate culture that combines hard work and giving back. The couple share their respect for their community’s seemingly unlimited capacity for giving, singling out David Gesualdo, founder and publisher of Jeepin’ magazine.
“I do want to say something about David,” Tina says. “The guy never takes any credit for what he does. The Gesualdos are a great family — really an asset to not only the Jeeping community, but the Central Florida community as well. We are honored and blessed to have them as friends.”
Nuts and Bolts
Tina and Steve Farrell own and operate a number of Central Florida businesses and host numerous charity events through their nonprofit, Farrell Cares, several of which are at The Columbian Event Center in Port Richey.