- Associated Press - Friday, June 2, 2017

BOYCE, Va. (AP) - David Manthey’s grandfather and father taught him valuable trades as well as the importance of taking pride in hard work. What he learned from them was reinforced by four years in the Army. Earlier this year, Manthey decided to take all the skills and all he has learned and launch his own business.

The response to Manthey Premier Services so far has been overwhelming.

Manthey, 27, and his fiancee Deanna Homoud, 23, focus on residential repair and remodeling. They also clean and detail automobiles at the homes of their customers.

“I’ve always done car detailing,” Manthey said. “I thought this might be a service people would want.”

His instinct was correct. Mobile auto detailing now accounts for half of Manthey Premier Services’ business.

Manthey grew up in Florida, though his family’s roots are in the farmland of South Dakota. His grandfather owns a construction business in Florida, and his father is a businessman who is also a skilled builder.

“I talk with my grandpa and dad often. They’ve been so supportive of me starting my own business,” Manthey said.

Manthey served the Army in the 573rd Clearance Company based at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. He was among the engineer units trained in explosive hazard clearance and deployed in support of the global war on terrorism.

He was overseas three of the four years before being honorably discharged in June 2014, when he returned to Florida.

A rare genetic disorder almost ended Manthey’s Army career during basic training. He, like other members of his family, has an autoimmune blistering disease that causes his body to mistakenly attack healthy tissue. The result are blistering lesions that prohibit layers of skin from adhering together as they should.

“I was scared I would be medically discharged, and I wanted to serve,” he said. “So I prayed every night, ‘Let me get through tomorrow.’”

At its worst, Manthey would keep his boots on, even while he slept, to hold the skin on his feet place. He made it through basic training in great pain only to reach the final test: a 20-mile ruck march.

“I made it to within a quarter mile of the finish, but I couldn’t do it,” Manthey said, holding back tears as he told the story. “Other soldiers carried me to the end.”

Basic training ended with a ceremony attended by family members. Manthey’s parents and siblings were there. All were surprised when Manthey was presented an award for courage, no one more surprised than Manthey himself.

After his discharge, he moved to Northern Virginia when he accepted a job with Titan America, a ready-mixed concrete company. Manthey met Homoud at a barbecue joint in Leesburg, and they hit it off instantly. Now, they are planning a December wedding.

Homoud, who has a degree in psychology from Salisbury University, works in the home healthcare field, providing counseling for children. While in middle school, she developed an interest in architecture and interior design.

She tackled projects in her parents’ home, and during college helped build homes by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

“She’s an amazing worker,” Manthey said. “I only have to show her how to do something once, and she’s got it.”

When the couple moved into a rental house in Boyce, they decided to build a lot of their furniture.

“That’s what started the company, kind of by accident. We built furniture, and people asked us to build furniture for them,” said Manthey. “By March, I made the decision to quit my job and start my own company.”

Manthey says he is blessed. “Look at me. I’m a young guy covered in tattoos. That could be hard for some people to get past, but everyone has been wonderful.

“We have received positive responses and good recommendations from our customers,” he said. “We are busy every day, and we have jobs booked through June.”

One of their recent home repair projects was refinishing hardwood floors.

In all jobs, big and small, Manthey is guided by the skills and principles he learned at home.

“We treat people fairly. We do our best, and we’ll make it right.”

He said, “My biggest struggle is that I want everyone to be happy. Everyone will not always be happy. That’s hard for me.”

Because Manthey Premier Services has been well received, Manthey said he’s able to pay it forward. He is building two benches he will donate to the Clarke County Youth Football League. “I’m a huge football fan, and I want to support youth football.”

One day, he wants to support teams by sponsoring them. He smiles at the thought of jerseys printed with Manthey Premier Services.

He also smiles at the prospect of enlarging his business, hiring employees. “I never thought we’d have so much success so soon. In five years, I’d love to have a branch in my hometown,” he said, thinking wistfully of his family in Florida.

Manthey believes his skin condition has improved to the point of non-existence because of his faith, hard work and belief that every day is an opportunity. Working through difficult times is a life lesson, he said.

“I’m young, I’m eager, and I have a passion. I am blessed,” he said.

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Information from: The Winchester Star, https://www.winchesterstar.com

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