ATLANTA — A metro Atlanta dad’s pandemic project has turned into a thriving business that’s bringing families together in a special way.
Mike Scaglione worked in the medical device sales industry for 16 years. When the pandemic hit, he found himself out of work.
"All of the elective surgery stopped, so for the first time in 16 years, I found myself at home and nothing really to do," he said. "It really sunk in that when you go 100 miles an hour for so long, there's that void there, honestly.”
He saw that same stir-crazy boredom in his kids, 6-year-old Lyla and 11-year-old Sean.
“It was terrible," Sean said. "You can't do anything, you can't play with your friends. We were just stuck inside all day.”
Cue: Dad to the rescue.
“He came home and he had like the back of his truck full of wood, and he just said, I'm going to build a tree fort," Sean recalled.
The kids admitted they were a little skeptical at first.
"I was surprised," Layla said. "I never saw him build anything like that!"
Mike said even he was surprised since he hadn’t built anything like that before.
"No, no, not at all," he laughed.
Mike's wife and high school sweetheart Kristin didn't know quite what to expect.
"He didn't run it by anybody, he literally went to Lowe's and came home with a truck full of lumber and said, I'm going to build a treehouse," she said. "And we were all like, what? He had no blueprint, no plan.”
But Kristin, Lyla, and Sean said they watched as their dad built something incredible.
"I was pretty confident he could do it," Sean said. “It’s my dad. He can do anything!"
The treehouse came together and became the kids' new favorite hangout.
None of them expected what would happen next.
“I posted a picture of it on like a local moms group," Kristin said. "We had 60 requests for quotes in twenty-four hours. And we’ve been building ever since!”
Mike’s pandemic project became Firefly Forts.
They’ve already built about 50 forts across metro Atlanta.
"Time and time again families say this is the best thing that ever happened to us, these forts are bringing our family together," Kristin said. "So that's what keeps us going."
They’ve come a long way since that first backyard project. Firefly Forts is booked out through 2022, and the Scaglione's were able to hire employees to help build the forts.
"It's one of those things you don't see coming. But when it does, you feel like you should have been here your entire life," Mike said. “As a parent, those are the things that matter. We can give our kids anything, but it's the little things that you put your heart into, and it captures their hearts, and that's what carries you through.”
You can learn more about Firefly Forts or request a quote here. The forts generally start at $10,000.