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:

Headz Salon, Tony Williamson

MM: Tell us about your business.

TW: Headz Salon is full of passionate, creative, and team-oriented people that only want to help you look and feel your best. I’ve been cutting hair for 44 years, and I’ve had the salon for 36. I feel like our current team of stylists is the best we’ve ever had.

MM: Who is your target customer?

TW: We don’t try to seek out anyone in particular. We’re just looking to make people feel and look the best they can. Many of our clients have been with us for decades, and some of our stylists have been with us for decades, too.

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

TW: There have been many challenges. We need to follow many regulations, and we work to keep everyone as safe as possible.

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

TW: I feel like our team works better under pressure. We have to comply with new guidelines, and we found new ways to help each other. We’ve followed regulations and tried to make people feel safe.

MM: What are your goals for 2021?

TW: We want to keep people coming in and grow our business while keeping people safe and confident in our care for them.

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

TW: We have an opportunity to meet a new person every 30 to 60 minutes in this business. Learn to listen to people. Learn their stories and experiences instead of focusing on sharing yours. You can learn a lot that way.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

TW: The young people we have. We have several people in their early 20’s. Sometimes, you hear stereotypes of young people being soft because they never had much expected of them. But that’s not who we have. Our young people are diligent and go the extra mile to learn and help our staff and clients.

How to Reach Us:

Headz Salon
8105 La Grange Road
Louisville, KY 40222
(502) 423-1343

Keyes Architects & Associates, Charles Keyes

SM: Tell us about your business.

CK: Keyes Architects started 30 years ago in 1991. We gradually grew, and now we have licenses in 13 states and currently do business in about five of them. We design but do not build. We work on small home projects to multimillion dollar commercial facilities. We strive to have lasting connections with clients.

SM: Who is your target customer?

CK: Our best customers are developers and contractors who bring us leads. We become part of a design-and-build team where we design, and they build. We’re proud to work on many smaller projects and have a lot of recurring clients. Almost every client we have comes to us through word of mouth.

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

CK: Most of our bread-and-butter is the smaller projects. Unlike a typical recession, the situation we are in today is unusual, and a lot of our clients are saying they want their projects to be ready to go once the pandemic ends and people can buy their products.

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

CK: There is much more interaction on the Internet now. In the past, we used to walk from desk to desk and talk about things in person. Today, things take longer because interactions occur online, and there is a lot of data transfer over our computers. Therefore, productivity has fallen simply because it is harder to have quick exchanges. But we’re surviving.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

CK: My goal is to control the growth. Unforeseen fluctuations are a challenge. Like many small businesses, we see everything happen at once, and then everything slows down. It’s great when you see controlled growth. Some architects have closed their doors during the pandemic because they work specifically with schools or other organizations that have had trouble due to COVID-19. We have a wide range of clients, so we can power through. We also want to empower our team members who can speak secondary languages, such as Spanish, to help us reach new clients.

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

CK: I once worked jobs where I was unhappy about various things. As a business owner, I keep in mind what I disliked before, and I try to stay true to my ideals and vision for what I want to see in my business.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

CK: Seeing people making it through COVID-19 and the pandemic is inspiring. I like seeing people who are starting new businesses and new projects and making it work despite everything.

OFFER: At Keyes Architects, the first discussion is always free.

 

How to Reach Us:

Keyes Architects
4717 Preston Hwy.
Louisville, KY 40213
(502) 636-5113

email us

Aloft Louisville East, Lesli Schaffer

SM: Tell us about your business.

LS: Aloft Louisville East is a Marriott franchise. We have 126 rooms, and we have been here for a little more than four years.

SM: Who is your target customer?

LS: Everyone is a target customer, but historically, business travelers are our most significant demographic. A lot of sports fans also stay with us.

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

LS: We lost at least 70 percent of our business due to the pandemic, and it forced us to layoff half of our staff. We had to close our bar, too. No one knows when people will begin traveling again, but we look forward to that day and hope it will be soon.

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

LS: We’ve continued to book weddings. We have stayed in touch with our customers about their plans. We are focusing on local people who want a safe “Staycation.”

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

LS: One of my personal goals is to pray. At Aloft, as soon as business gets back to normal, we’re going to hit the ground running.

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

LS: Your employees are the most important thing in your professional life. The way you treat them determines how successful you will be. That’s the main thing I’ve learned as a general manager. I’m no better than anyone else. We’re a team. If you take care of your team, they take care of the guests. This workplace has the best team atmosphere I’ve ever been part of, in terms of employees enjoying one another and treating one another well.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

LS: I feel inspired by the people who are still here working. I had to lay off a lot of staff at the beginning of the crisis. I was eventually able to bring some of them back. The employees we still have are passionate about what they do, and I’m proud of them. They are working so hard and being so loyal, and I’m truly thankful.

OFFER: Call and mention ActionCOACH to find out how you can get a special Staycation rate!

How to Reach Us:

Aloft Louisville East
10700 Westport Rd.
Louisville, KY 40241 USA
(502) 429-9901

Awards Center, Jason Malone

SM: Tell us about your business.

JM: Awards Center sells awards, plaques, trophies, engravings, and other prizes. We want to help people create the perfect custom award to wow everyone at their next awards presentation. We have been around since 1983, and I’ve been working here since 1999. I later bought the company.

SM: Who is your target customer?

JM: Everyone. We do everything from awards for big corporations or sports teams to ornament engravings for organizations.

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

JM: It’s had an enormous impact. I had to lay my employees off early on. Sales were down last year as a direct result of the pandemic.

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

JM: We pivoted while trying to stick to our strengths. We did more engravings and related services. For example, I saw that the governor was using a particular cup at his press conferences. I got in contact with his office and sent him a cup with his information on it. Once people saw those, we sold a lot of cups, and it turned into an incredible thing for us.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

JM: I’m hoping that things get back to normal over the course of the next year. Many events are still canceled. It would be great to see things get back to normal by the first quarter of next year, but until then, we have to keep going and doing the best we can.

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

JM: As a business, we have a great reputation, and we try to keep it that way. As people, we occasionally make mistakes like everybody else, but we try our best to do the best and keep the customer service top-notch. Perhaps I sometimes try to control things too much. I need to focus on working on the business instead of in the business.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

JM: The opportunity to provide for my family and my employees’ families inspires me every day.

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

How to Reach Us:

Awards Center
4415 Saint Rita Drive
Louisville, KY 40219
(502) 966-2040

Crawford Entertainment Systems, Gene Crawford

MM: Tell us about your business.

GC: Crawford Entertainment Systems has been in business for 24 years, and I personally have four decades of experience in audio. We install and program home theatres and related systems. We provide both residential and commercial systems.

MM: Who is your target customer?

GC: Anybody who wants a superior audio system for their home or business would be a target customer. We work with many restaurants and offices that want background music. People often do not want or know how to wire audio throughout a home or office, but we can help.

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

GC: Initially, everyone worried and tried to figure out what was going to happen. Fortunately, we never had to shut down completely. We continued helping customers and had a good year as a business.

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

GC: We started remodeling our showroom at the end of March. It still is not done, but we are working on it, and we would like to finish it this year.

MM: What are your goals for 2021?

GC: I’m optimistic that people will count their blessings and move forward. We have many projects in motion.

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

GC: Everything is trial and error. There is no school for everything that happens; sometimes, we are the school. We’ve trained our people to have the appropriate level of expertise in given areas. We haven’t done anything we regret. However, I don’t think we have ever received a single sale from any ads we have run. Our business comes to us almost entirely by referral. Therefore, if I had to go back and do anything over, I probably would not run the same ads.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

GC: In general, people seem to be in good moods and have more humility these days. That inspires me.

How to Reach Us:

Crawford Entertainment Systems
11630 Commonwealth Dr. Suite 800
Louisville, KY 40299
(502) 785-8529

Dages Paint Company, Anne Dages

MM: Tell us about your business.

AD: My grandfather started Dages Paint Company in 1930 during the height of the Great Depression. He went from selling out of the trunk of his car to occupying larger spaces over the past 90 years. I’m the third generation to own the business. We offer all the color, wood finishes, and paint supplies you need to complete your next home or office paint job.

MM: Who is your target customer?

AD: We serve a wide variety of customers, from homeowners who want to paint one room to contractors who paint an entire building.

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

AD: The government didn’t make us shut down, so that was helpful. We focused on curbside service for a while. Still, the pandemic put many projects on hold. At the same time, homeowners were at home and weren’t spending as much money. Instead, they focused on improving their homes, which included a lot of painting.

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

AD: Curbside was hard because this is a very visual business. However, we adapted. Our designers would go out into the parking lot to discuss options with customers and we have great online tools.

MM: What are your goals for 2021?

AD: We want to expand the retail side of our business. Last year, people didn’t want to shop at some of the big stores. We focused on giving those people good experiences. We’re also preparing to launch an e-commerce site.

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

AD: Don’t try to do everything. When you start your own business, you want to do everything because you’re so invested in what you are doing, but you need to find professionals that you trust and farm out what you can. Then, when you find the right people to help you, try not to micromanage them.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

AD: Other local business owners inspire me. We’ve come together to support each other during all of this. It’s been motivating to see business owners overcome challenges. Also, my employees have pulled together and gotten us through this. More than anything, my children inspire me. I want to set a good example for them and show them that they can achieve anything they set their mind to.

OFFER: Receive 10% off your next purchase at Dages Paint Company when you mention ActionCOACH.

How to Reach Us:

Dages Paint Company
1140 E Oak St.
Louisville, KY 40204
(502) 635-2666

Webster Environmental Associates, Bruce Koetter

SM: Tell us about your business.

BK: Webster Environmental Associates began in 1981. Today, we are one of the few companies of our kind. We identify and fix odor issues, and we provide odor control systems to municipalities and various industries.

SM: Who is your target customer?

BK: We usually serve municipalities, especially wastewater management entities, along with industries where the production of their products causes unpleasant odors.

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

BK: We had much less travel last year. We usually travel all over the country to do our testing and analysis work.

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

BK: We worked at home for a couple of weeks. We now utilize virtual meetings instead of in-person meetings.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

BK: We want to start hiring again. We want to help municipalities that may feel the pinch of a reduced economy this year.

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

BK: It’s easy to get so busy that you start losing track of the details. Sometimes you will be busy, but you still don’t have to accept work that is not of good quality. Furthermore, you may occasionally have to turn a job down.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

BK: People who do extraordinary things with their time and talents outside of work. I saw people get out there, help others, and go above and beyond their typical responsibilities.

How to Reach Us:

Webster Environmental Associates
13121 Eastpoint Park Blvd. #E
Louisville, KY 40223
(502) 253-3443

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.