Your City, Your Business: Business Owners Speak Out - Interview Series

This is a collection of short interviews and education from local business owners with amazing insights into today’s challenges. Coaches Mark McNulty (MM) and Sandy Merritt (SM) virtually sit down with business owners to learn how they are working through these unusual times, and their current challenges and successes. Check out their inspiring stories for business tips and general wisdom.

Be sure to visit the companies’ websites. Reach out to those who offer services you can use. Let’s support each other!

Featured in this edition:

Everyday Athletes, Brad Longazel

MM: Tell us about your business.

BL: My business partner and I started providing personal training services in college. Over the years, we built up a corporate fitness training practice before opening our own gym eight years ago. We have expanded the square footage tenfold since then. We help clients become more fit and trim, and help athletes such as powerlifters increase their level of achievement.

MM: Who is your target customer?

BL: We help many people who are behind the 8-ball on taking care of their weight needs. We are an excellent fit for those looking for a gym with specialized equipment to help them meet their goals. Specifically, we see a lot of people between 20 and 40 years old, but we can help anyone.

MM: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?

BL: We have less space available for use. We can’t have as many people in our gym as usual. We even had to close for two months.

MM: What are one or two actions you’ve taken to make a difference?

BL: We added 24-hour access about a year and a half ago, and people have been coming in to work out that way. In fact, people have been hearing about it through word of mouth, which is always a great way for people to find out about your company and its services. We’ve worked hard to meet our clients’ needs in this new environment.

MM: What is a mistake you’ve made along the way that other people can learn from?

BL: Don’t follow a trend without assessing if it’s a good fit for your business. Just because it’s working for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

BL: The opportunity to step out of my shell and be an active leader inspires me. I enjoy helping my staff grow rather than just focusing on dollars.

OFFER: Receive a free day pass when you mention ActionCOACH.

How to Reach Us:

Everyday Athletes
2001 Production Dr. Unit 6
Louisville, KY 40299
(502) 275-0543

[email protected]

Waterfront Botanical Gardens, Kasey Maier

MM: Tell us about your business.

KM: Waterfront Botanical Gardens is a popular destination for people who want to explore the relationship between plant life and a healthy environment. Built on the site of a former landfill, the organization is becoming a world-class botanical garden. A non-profit, Waterfront Botanical Gardens provides everyone, people young and old, opportunities to appreciate and experience nature. I helped grow it from an idea to an expanding place of beauty and discovery.

MM: Who is your target customer?

KM: We have a variety of donors. Some are young, and some old. These days, you have to reach people in different ways. Some want us to call them, while others want us to email them or mail them information. The young ones are always very conscious of environmental sustainability. We have guests from all walks of life.

MM: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?

KM: The pandemic mostly shut down our programs. Our rental space went unused. Earned income was way down, while donations also decreased. We received some much-needed donations in December, but until then, we were hurting. We’re doing our best to crawl back up the hill.

MM: What are one or two actions you’ve taken to make a difference?

KM: We have focused on serving smaller groups. We provide an elopement package for small weddings now. We are working to monetize our services where possible. We’re also utilizing virtual capabilities as well. For example, we give virtual tours of our gardens, and people love them. In the fall, we had a hybrid version of our gala. Part of it was in person and part was online. Also, in terms of our business, we have another building under construction, and part of one of our new projects is in the design stage.

MM: What is a mistake you’ve made along the way that other people can learn from?

KM: Don’t burn a bridge, no matter who you’re dealing with in life. You never know who you are talking to. Everyone is connected. Be sure to do good, and be as nice as possible because your actions will ripple out. Even if you’re firing someone who deserves it, be as nice as possible.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

KM: The opportunity to make a difference inspires me. No one will remember the work I did in banking and finance. Now, I’m working on something meaningful. Seeing older people and little kids come and enjoy our gardens as they grow motivates me.

 

How to Reach Us:

Waterfront Botanical Gardens
1435 Frankfort Ave.
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 276-5404

[email protected]

S.E.C. Custom Computers, Benny Foster

MM: Tell us about your business.

BF: S.E.C. Custom Computers has been in business for more than 30 years. The company offers network support and maintenance, PC and notebook repairs, and new computer sales and upgrades. S.E.C. customers often have a couple computers at home or a few hundred computers at the office. The company is happy to help and advise you when it comes to any computer problem big or small.

MM: Who is your target customer?

BF: Everyone who uses computers is a target customer. We serve higher education, local government, and small-to-and-medium-sized businesses.

MM: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?

BF: We have slower sales on the corporate side, but even in a typical year, we see slowdowns and pickups at various times. Consumer sales have decreased less. Local sports teams have shut down. The biggest impact is that we are disconnected from our customers due to changes in regulations.

MM: What are one or two actions you’ve taken to make a difference?

BF: Initially, we were very busy setting up VPNs and other technology to enable people to work from home. We followed the required health protocols. We have talked with leaders of different industries to brainstorm and adapt. For 2021, we have set the same goals as usual. Hopefully, we will get back to normal this year.

MM: What is a mistake you’ve made along the way that other people can learn from?

BF: The customer has the answers. You don’t. They have a need, and it’s your job to fill that need. Since we’re in the technology business, we have to stay up with technology and adapt to stay successful.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

BF: It’s the same as what it was 30 years ago: technology. The changes in technology over the past 30 years have been incredible, and they’re just going to keep getting more incredible as we move forward into the future.

 

OFFER: Receive a 10% discount on your next retail purchase when you mention ActionCOACH.

How to Reach Us:

S.E.C. Custom Computers
4760 Rockford Plaza
Louisville, KY 40216
(502) 448-9397

Changes Hair Salon, Deana Sehlinger

SM: Tell us about your business.

DS: Changes Hair Salon strives to help people look their best. We provide services from haircuts to nails to facial body waxes. I have worked at Changes for more than 30 years, I have and owned and operated the business for the past nine years.

SM: Who is your target customer?

DS: We serve all people. We serve everyone from children to senior citizens. We have clients from middle schoolers to people in their eighties. Our salon staff includes experienced people who have been in the business, so we can help everyone with almost anything.

SM: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?

DS: Things are slower because we are not allowed to double book. We can’t use our waiting area, and we can’t allow as many customers into our store. We used to serve eight to ten people per day, but now, we have to restrict not only how many clients are in the salon but also how many team members are here. We’ve taken a lot of precautions and asked our clients to do things like wait in their cars instead of in the waiting area, but people definitely appreciate the steps we’re taking to keep people safe.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

DS: We hope to return to normal. We’re also communicating to customers that it’s safe to come out and come back because we are taking the proper precautions to protect our clients.

SM: What is a mistake you’ve made along the way that other people can learn from?

DS: I’ve worked at Changes nearly my entire career. Many of the girls up there are like family to me, but I still have to be an authority figure. People may like you, but you have to be stern when needed. It’s hard to fill that role when you’re dealing with friends. But that’s what’s necessary to keep the workplace happy.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

DS: The support of our customers has been tremendous. Our work inspires me. I know I’m going to make a difference in someone’s life every day that I come to work.

 

How to Reach Us:

Changes Hair Salon
3922 Ruckriegel Pkwy #208
Louisville, KY 40299
(502) 267-4088

Peggy’s Place Adult Life Center, Tracy Diers

MM: Tell us about your business.

TD: Peggy’s Place Adult Life Center is operated by experienced nurses who provide both medical and social day care services. It is named for Peggy Meiners-Phelps, a long-time caregiver. We can provide care for people with multiple chronic diseases, mental illness and spinal cord injuries. We aim to maintain optimal staffing levels in order to ensure that their clients receive the highest-quality care possible.

MM: Who is your target customer?

TD: Caregivers who need respite, as well as discharge planners and doctors’ offices. The people we serve often suffer from chronic illness and/or are isolated.

MM: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?

TD: The state mandated that we close for 2 months. Some people are still scared, even though they know they need our service.

MM: What are one or two actions you’ve taken to make a difference?

TD: We follow all safety and health guidelines. We also contacted people to make sure their needs were met while they couldn’t come to the center. We sent them packets of activities they could do at home.

MM: What is a mistake you’ve made along the way that other people can learn from?

TD: My co-founders and I come from a nursing background. We didn’t have business experience. We had to learn a lot of lessons about things like choosing CPA’s, lawyers and other service providers.  

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

TD: Seeing the community band together, serving the vulnerable. More people are thinking about the impacts of social isolation – in the past people in this area weren’t thinking about those things enough. We have a great opportunity to move people to a condition where they can age in place comfortably and safely.

OFFER: People are welcome to take a tour either virtually or at the end of the day when clients have left. We can set up a time to assess whether this day care would meet the needs for your loved ones.

 How to Reach Us:

Peggy’s Place Adult Life Center
1730 Audubon Drive
Suite 100
New Albany, IN 47150
(812) 590-2857

Breakout Creative, Robert Hatfield

SM: Tell us about your business.

RH: I have run Breakout Creative since 1998. It is a brand marketing firm that creates and invigorates brands for many organizations. We develop brand platforms, from social media to emerging media to more traditional advertising and marketing; following principles that apply to any brand.

SM: Who is your target customer?

RH: We serve everyone from the U.S. Army to Abbott Labs to local businesses. We help companies in many industries. Our best clients know how to both listen and participate. We want to keep things frank and open.

 SM: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?

RH: It’s been tremendous. When the market goes down, people cut marketing first.

SM: What are one or two actions you’ve taken to make a difference?

RH: We’ve worked to guide our clients through this time. We’re also reworking our plans for the future and how to keep growing revenue and adding clients.

SM: What is a mistake you’ve made along the way that other people can learn from?

RH: When I was younger, I was a talented perfectionist who was cocky and hard to work with. I started my own business and I was too aggressive and competitive. I’ve realized over the years that there’s enough business out there for everybody.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

RH: The bravery of people as they come together and cooperate. We have become more family-oriented, which has been healthy. Also, people are fed up with politicians who are being hypocritical. Hopefully that will lead to positive change.

 How to Reach Us:

Breakout Creative
101 N. 7th Street
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 561-3475

Farley Printing, Bud Farley

SM: Tell us about your business.

BF: Since 1965, Farley Printing has been printing materials for a variety of organizations. I got into the family business in 1972, and took over operations in 2009.

SM: Who is your target customer?

BF: We help a variety of customers. We do a lot of work for the metro government, as well as unions and political organizations.

SM: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?

BF: We had to lay off some employees early on. We also had to be cautious financially when it came to purchases.

SM: What are one or two actions you’ve taken to make a difference?

BF: We got everyone back after the initial layoffs. We work to follow health protocols. We’re still striving for our goals, and trying to keep everyone healthy.

SM: What is a mistake you’ve made along the way that other people can learn from?

BF: In the printing business, sometimes mistakes happen. What’s important is that we minimize the errors that we make. We have an error rate of less than 1%, which sets a high standard.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

BF: The way our company and employees have stuck together, working together and getting along so well.

 How to Reach Us:

Farley Printing
1014 S. Sixth Street
Louisville, Ky. 40203
(502) 587-3055
[email protected]

Mixed Nation, Luke Whitehead

SM: Tell us about your business.

LW: Mixed Nation is a multicultural brand and movement that aims to celebrate diversity and builds unity. After starting in 2010, we have transformed into a company that engages people on a variety of platforms and are very active on Facebook. We seek to inspire, uplift, and work toward eliminating racism.

SM: Who is your target customer?

LW: People that are seeking to bring positive, meaningful change. Organizations who are in need of diversity training, or people who are interested in diversity-related products. We can provide guest speakers.

SM: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?

LW: We closed our brick and mortar business prior to the pandemic, since we mostly do business online. That helped us survive during 2020. Multicultural festivals we participated in are not happening. That was a great way to connect with people so it’s been challenging.

SM: What are one or two actions you’ve taken to make a difference?

LW: We have worked to enact meaningful social change. There are many challenges to overcome on the social justice front. We have tried to keep a positive message that will inspire unity. I have also been pursuing my MBA.

SM: What is a mistake you’ve made along the way that other people can learn from?

LW: Initially, we tried too much to emulate Facebook, etc. We put money into trying to get a following, hoping to get money later. But it’s often a bad idea to spend money on something that’s not bringing in money. You want to get supporters while paying the bills.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

LW: Seeing good people from all walks of life step up and ask how they can help.

How to Reach Us:

Mixed Nation
2315 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, Ky 40205
[email protected]
(502) 709-9290

Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, Betsy Johnson

MM: Tell us about your business.

BJ: The Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities is a non-profit member-driven association of long-term care providers. Their members include skilled nursing facilities, assisted living, and more. The association has supported members statewide through education, lobbying, and other services since 1954.

MM: Who is your target customer?

BJ: We help facilities of all sizes. We serve big chains, non-profits owned by religious organizations and smaller locally-owned entities. Our members pay dues based on the number of beds in their facility.

 MM: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?

BJ: It has been difficult. Our members have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Our association members have suffered emotionally. The amount of suffering and loss is difficult.

MM: What are one or two actions you’ve taken to make a difference?

BJ: We started working from home in March. I testified over the summer about how to help caregivers. We have worked to figure out how to best support our members in this difficult time. This has elevated discussions about long-term care facilities and how we help plan for the elderly.

MM: What is a mistake you’ve made along the way that other people can learn from?

BJ: You need to keep up relationships even when you disagree with someone. Compromise is needed, even when you’re frustrated. Learn to keep your cool. That has been an important lesson to keep in mind over the past year. 

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

BJ: Our caregivers. It’s been encouraging to see them overcome their difficulties. And people are talking about long-term care facilities at the state level and nationally, which is healthy.

How to Reach Us:

Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities
9403 Mill Brook Rd
Louisville, KY 40223
(502) 425-5000

Diversified Nurse Consultants, Tracy Diers

MM: Tell us about your business.

TD: Diversified Nurse Consultants was founded in 2011. The group of nurses who founded Diversified saw that many of the needs of people in the healthcare system they worked for were going unmet. Now Diversified aims to fill holes and cracks in health care. We care for those who are dealing with traumatic events or chronic conditions, helping to bring relief to those navigating the health care system.

MM: Who is your target customer?

TD: We help a variety of clients. Often it is a family member who has trouble taking care of an aging family member or a loved one with a chronic condition. We also help many guardians and others who need to take care of others’ health.

MM: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?

TD: It definitely had a big impact. We had to reduce our workforce. Some of our partners closed down, which affected our business.

MM: What are you doing to make a difference?

TD: We are providing more remote care options. More people need help in their home, and so we’re expanding our telehealth and telemonitoring services. Many are afraid of nursing homes and assistive care.

MM: What is a mistake you’ve made along the way that other people can learn from?

TD: When we were new, we selected services providers, such as a CPA, without vetting them thoroughly. We wasted time and money before we figured out who was really a good fit for us.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

TD: Seeing the community band together, serving the vulnerable. More people are thinking about the impacts of social isolation – in the past people in this area weren’t thinking about those things enough. We have a great opportunity to move people to a condition where they can age in place comfortably and safely.

 

How to Reach Us:

Diversified Nurse Consultants
1730 Audubon Drive
Suite 100
New Albany, IN 47150
(844) 580-8338

Get Your Free Coaching Session Today

Share your story with us during your Free 30-minute Strategy Session, or a full 90-minute business diagnostic. Discover you are not alone. Our actionable, systematic solutions will lead business leaders out of chaos and stagnation. We respect your privacy. Your information will not be shared or sold.

Location

9300 Shelbyville Rd. #506
Louisville, KY 40222
(502) 625-5646

Monday – Friday: by appointment

For business tips in your inbox, sign up for our mailing list. You'll get business blogs, articles, and notifications about upcoming business workshops and other opportunities. Your details will not be passed on to any third parties.