York College Alumnus Builds a Successful Business with Goal of Giving Back
Thomas Spray-Fry ’00 made $6,000 his first year out of college when he started his financial planning business. Today, he’s able to give back to the College’s lacrosse team, which he felt shaped him as a young man.
Thomas Spray-Fry ’00 was going through a box of old papers when he found the first tax return he filed a year out of college. His income was $6,000. “It wasn’t easy, and there was a lot of pasta for dinner that year,” he says. “But, I had a plan. I was working on building something that now allows me to pay it forward.”
Today, Spray-Fry is a member of The Resource Group within Lincoln Financial Advisors, which is the broker-dealer for Spray-Fry’s company, Heritage Financial Consultants LLC. The Resource Group is an invitation-only membership for Lincoln’s top 200 planners. There aren’t many 43-year-olds in the top 200, he adds.
Getting to that position meant more than just being conscious with his grocery budget as he grew his client list. For Spray-Fry, it started when he was a child and remembers asking his mom, “How are we going to pay for college?”
A mind for numbers
At 4 years old, Spray-Fry lost his father, a utility lineman, to a workplace accident. His family’s Catholic priest, who was also his dad’s friend, broke the news to the family. Two years later, that same priest left the priesthood, married Spray-Fry’s mother, and adopted Spray-Fry and his sister. His stepfather worked two jobs to provide for the family and taught him the value of a strong work ethic.
The greatest gifts that Spray-Fry received from his parents was their work ethic and always giving back to their community. He grew up filled with the notion that if you want something you have to work for it. He cut lawns until he was 14 and old enough to get a job at the local country club. Spray-Fry worked there from 14 to 21, from dishwasher to eventually bartender.
He was meticulous in saving his money. At 16, he borrowed his step-dad’s truck and even though he returned it with a full tank of gas, he got some grief for putting 100 miles on it. The next week, he went to the car dealership with enough cash to buy a car, but because he was underage, he couldn’t sign the paperwork himself. He had to call his parents to come do it for him.
When it was time for him to consider where to go to college, it was a top priority for Spray-Fry that he would graduate without student debt. York College would allow him to do that. He enrolled as an Economics and Finance major.
A heart for sports
The men’s lacrosse team at York College was still a club sport when Spray-Fry joined. The team eventually became an NCAA Division III program, and he was one of its first two captains. Even with five classes his last semester, an internship in Baltimore, and a senior thesis, he still managed to add lacrosse to his plate.
“You learn to balance all of that, and it really becomes a skill you can use later in life,” Spray-Fry says. “The bonds you make on a team are the best part of that. A lot of those people are my lifelong friends.”
With two sons of his own now, he finds himself applying the same skills he learned in sports to raising successful young men. He sees determination and team spirit to be a foundation that will take them into promising futures.
Working hard and giving back are two themes of his childhood. With a thriving financial planning practice, giving back has become a weekly occurrence. Spray-Fry and his family have committed to giving at least $250 a week to various charities that are making a difference in the world. Tom’s Giving Friday, or “TGF”, was born out of a frustration of seeing people post on social media about various societal issues, but never doing anything about it.
One of Spray-Fry’s mentors, Tim Seifert, Head of Retirement Solutions for Lincoln Financial Group, once told him that you have to give back. That means giving through time, talent, or treasure, of which Spray-Fry tries to practice all three.
Spray-Fry has spent the past 10 years consistently being a voice of support for the men’s lacrosse team. He sees how some of the best teams in the country have multiple, full-time assistant coaches, and he wants that support for York College.
In the past two years, he’s contributed to and helped fundraise nearly $250,000 to endow a new assistant coach for the team.
“I felt like I owed it to the College to do that,” he says. “They contributed so much to my life, through faculty who guided my career path to coaching staff who mentored me as a young man.”