CORAL SPRINGS, FL – Scott Gilman spent much of his life working at technology companies, where he oversaw staff and big projects. But the moment he stepped into a painting studio in Coral Springs, he knew his corporate days were over.

After crunching numbers, Gilman and his wife, Debbie, decided it was the right moment in their lives to own a business – so they bought Plaster Carousel, a family-friendly business at 9865 W. Sample Road, which was up for sale after years of stagnant growth.  

“It just kind of happened fast,” Scott said. “I got extremely excited about what the place could become.”

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Now, two years later, he said the business is re-energized and reaching its full potential, with scores of new customers from schools, camps, and civic organizations coming in to paint objects, spend time with friends and loved ones, and escape the use of phones and computers for a few hours.

He and Debbie worked hard to market the business as a destination for “fun family experiences” as well as open its doors to charitable events -- especially those helping people heal from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy.

“We never say no,” Scott said. “We always find a way to help someone. We are creative in how we do that.”

Scott and Debbie, both 50, are the sixth owners of Plaster Carousel, which opened in 1983. Each owner has put their own mark on the studio. For the Gilmans, it’s combining Scott’s skills in technology and Debbie’s experience as a teacher to make the business efficient and a community resource.

They’ve also brought in their son, Noah, 16, and daughter, Hannah, 20, to help stock the shelves with nearly a thousand items to paint and chat with customers so they feel welcomed.

“From the beginning, we wanted to make this a family business,” Debbie said. “We also wanted to make it a place where everyone in the community is welcome.”

That thinking has long been a part of their lives. The couple met as students at the University of Michigan in the early 1990s and they envisioned long careers in education. While Debbie worked as a teacher for many years, Scott branched off into the technology sector, with a stint at Citrix Systems in Fort Lauderdale. As the technology field consolidated, he lost his job and began looking for something different to do.

The opportunity came when Debbie’s sister found out that Plaster Carousel was up for sale.

“I was so burned out from my work and wanted to have more say in my day-to-day life,” Scott said. “This was the right business for us.”

On a recent afternoon, family members from three generations were painting a koi fish. Joey Iarriccio, 8, had put the finishing touches on the orange-colored sculpture, his third creation at Plaster Carousel over the years.

“I really like to paint,” he said, as Scott added a few sprinkles before spraying and hardening the paint on the fish.

His cousin, Marisa Carducci, said they came to spend a little time together.

“It’s so nice just to sit and talk,” she said.

As they left, two parents with young children walked in and started looking for the right sculpture to paint.

“They’re here for the same reason,” Scott said, “to have a great family experience.”

He added: “This is so satisfying. I’m so glad I never have to do another corporate status report.”

Learn more about Plaster Carousel here.