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:

Rueff Signs, Bob Rueff

SM: Tell us about your business.

BR: Rueff Signs is a sign company that my grandfather’s brother started by pinstriping wagons. When electric signs and neon signs came into existence, he convinced my grandfather to enter the sign business with him. Today, 109 years later, we’re still creating excellent signs. We have a lot of strengths without being a huge company. Our job is all about putting color outdoors and having it work. We do everything—start to finish.

SM: Who is your target customer?

BR: We provide custom signs for anyone. We help businesses and individuals. For example, if you show me a business card, I can tell you 50 different ways to produce a 4-foot by 8-foot version of it as a sign.

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

BR: We bought masks for everyone and used hand sanitizers, but the pandemic shut us down for a while. We’ve been cautious and implemented protocols to keep people healthy.

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

BR: We follow health protocols. We’ve stayed up with regulations. We’re used to dealing with customized sets of rules in different areas.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

BR: Our continuous goal is to become more efficient. We have a great product, but we always want to be more efficient. You have to stay on top of things. In business, you will always see ups and downs.

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

BR: Businesses have to be smart about money. But if you scrimp on materials, it’s not going to work. When business do that too much, they end up calling us to come in and fix the problem.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

BR: Seeing the attitudes of some of the young people who work here. Some young people can focus too much on screen time, but some of the young people here are busy building their knowledge and careers.

OFFER: Receive a free project quote when you mention ActionCOACH. 

How to Reach Us:

Rueff Signs
1530 East Washington St.
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 582-1714
[email protected]

Haven Salon & Spa, Rebekkha Rechter

SM: Tell us about your business.

RR: We are a full-service, upscale salon and spa. We’ve been in operation for four years. We also have opened an area offering spa and salon services for children.

SM: Who is your target customer?

RR: Women who value a very personalized experience are our target customers. We provide a customized, intimate experience. Our customers run the gamut. They’re usually women, but they range from young girls to grandmothers. We serve anyone who wants to look good.

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

RR: Much of our aesthetic work is event-driven. Events aren’t happening, so that work isn’t needed. We also had to juggle schedules so we wouldn’t violate governmental occupancy mandates.

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

RR: We created a kids-specific area in our salon. It’s a safe, kid-friendly area. Small groups of children can have their hair, nails or another service done, while mom gets her hair done or gets a facial.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

RR: We want to maintain our client base in the light of continuing changes and safety restrictions.

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

RR: Be careful about pouring money into preventing a problem that may never come up. For example, you have to learn the right moment to invest in something. If you think you may need a piece of equipment in the future but you don’t have an immediate need, be wise in making that decision.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

RR: Celebrating my son’s birthday. We’ve made it this far, and kids are still relatively adorable. Business-wise, it’s my staff. They’re the best co-workers anyone could have. They do what it takes to make things work.

OFFER: Receive a 20% discount on your first purchase or service when you mention Action COACH.

How to Reach Us:

Haven Salon & Spa
315 Wendover Ave
Louisville, KY 40207
(502) 895-3350

Monty’s Plant Food, Jeff Sangalli

SM: Tell us about your business.

JS: We are an agricultural company, and our philosophy is healthy soil leads to healthy plants and higher yields. We were founded in 1997. We develop technology to rebuild degraded soil, increase nutrient efficiency, and feed plants what they need when they need it (precision feeding) that benefit farmers’ yield and quality.

SM: Who is your target customer?

JS: We work primarily with farmers. We work with them one-on-one to help them solve their soil issues and feed their plants high-quality plant foods. We also sell through distributors, but our goal is always to put farmers first. Our technology is finally being recognized by the progressive farmers and influencer farmers, and we are seeing a ripple effect through to potential customers.

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

JS: We had a record year in 2020. Still, it affected us. We couldn’t go to trade shows or have lengthy meetings with farmers. It affected some of our international efforts. We had a difficult time working on international projects in other countries, such as Nigeria and Brazil.

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

JS: We used online tools to keep our relationships going. We want to keep developing our technology. We aim to manage our international affairs effectively.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

JS: We want to grow by 50% this year. That’s aggressive, but we’ve been getting ready for that for several years. Our efforts are bearing fruit.

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

JS: Fear and courage are not mutually exclusive. As the owner or manager of a business, you have to make decisions without knowing whether or not the decision will turn out well. But generally, not making a decision is worse than making a sub-par decision.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

JS: I volunteer at my church. Many people are hurting, but it’s inspiring to see how the gospel is changing their lives.

How to Reach Us:

Monty’s Plant Food
4800 Strawberry Lane
Louisville, KY 40209
(800) 978-6342

The CMOOR Group, home of SecurityCEU.com – Connie Moorhead

MM: Tell us about your business.

CM: The CMOOR group builds training and compliance solutions for the security industry, which includes fire, life safety, and more. We have built a learning management system for the security industry, and we have also developed a compliance management system. We have 190 hours of industry-specific training available, which comes mainly in the form of e-learning, and we also have custom training solutions. Personally, I have run The CMOOR group for the last 20 years. We started in the basement of my home and expanded, but we are still a small business today.

MM: Who is your target customer?

CM: The security industry is our target niche market, but our ideal customers include people who want to partner with us to build a vision for how to train their people.

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

CM: Clients have rushed to do online training. Many people who would not take my phone calls a year ago now call us because they need our help. People do not want to go into physical classrooms.

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

CM: The PPP loan helped us early on. We had to focus on project management in order to complete our work efficiently. Additionally, we have researched technology that might be useful to us.

MM: What are your goals for 2021?

CM: For a small business, it is always about cash flow. Specifically, we are looking at doubling our recurring monthly revenue. We also want to upgrade our technology. For example, we are upgrading our customer relationship management tools.

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

CM: Never be afraid to take risks. As an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to stick your neck out there. You have to learn to hear the word “no” because it takes 10 “no’s” to get to a “yes”. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

CM: Seeing courageous women leaders inspires me. I feel excited to be a woman today and to watch young women leaders do great things.

How to Reach Us:

The CMOOR Group
209 Townepark Circle Suite #200
Louisville, KY 40243
(502) 254-1590

[email protected]

L & D Mail Masters, Diane Fischer

MM: Tell us about your business.

DF: At L & D Mail Masters, we create campaigns that captivate, cultivate, relate to, and resonate with our clients’ target audiences. I started the company in 1986 with a table, a telephone, and $500. Now, we have 155,000 square feet and 77 employees. We mail items and offer a wide array of related services. We provide online order fulfillment, statement processing, and promotional products. We can even pack and ship things that clients store at our warehouse. We take care of your mail needs while you sleep.

MM: Who is your target customer?

DF: We can help anyone who wants to get their name out there. We focus on health care, higher education, finance, and marketing companies. We manage the entire operation for many small companies and also work with many large organizations.

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

DF: We are an essential service, so the pandemic did not shut us down. We have to keep performing every day. People rely on us.

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

DF: We worked to keep people safe. We were able to keep all of our employees. Now we are adding people to our team. We had to pivot in many ways. We have worked through intense situations over the past year, but we keep moving forward.

MM: What are your goals for 2021?

DF: We want to grow. The only way to do that is to get people to recognize they need to do more business in their town. We could grow local business by 15% if we did that. We have been training in all areas, so we are ready to take on new business.

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

DF: Early on, I thought I needed to work all the time and not buy equipment. I realized that if I began to purchase the necessary equipment, we would be more effective, and we’d save a lot of time. We learned to upgrade our machines over time. That’s helped our employees and customers. It can be a helpful tax write-off, too.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

DF: Watching people grow inspires me. The people here are incredible. They are working and growing together. We invest time and money in our people.

OFFER: Receive a free marketing consultation when you mention ActionCOACH.

 

How to Reach Us:

L & D Mail Masters
110 Security Parkway
New Albany, IN 47150
(812) 220-0960

email us

Preston Greenhouse & Garden Center, Steve Mercer

MM: Tell us about your business.

SM: Preston Greenhouse is a 43-year-old horticultural company. We are a wholesale greenhouse grower. We also design and build landscaping projects. We have a retail garden center, and we focus on residential landscaping.

MM: Who is your target customer?

SM: Residential customers who want to improve their Landscapes and outdoor living areas are our target customers. They want to make their outdoor spaces more enjoyable.

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

SM: It has increased our business substantially. When people stay home more, they notice the things they need to improve around the home. People have not wanted to stand in line at the big box stores. Here, they can get a more personalized experience and avoid the crowds.

MM: What are your goals for 2021?

SM: We anticipate some pent-up demand for our products and services. We are looking at having as good of a year this year as we did last year.

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

SM: You should think carefully about the career you want to get into. If I had it to do over, I would have gone straight into this business instead of spending time in other jobs and related industries.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

SM: The future of this industry is bright. We have so many opportunities to grow and to become more efficient. This is an old business, but we’re always looking at providing new services or providing old services in a new way.

OFFER: Sign up for Preston Greenhouse & Garden Center’s birthday club to receive 15% off your first purchase.

How to Reach Us:

Preston Greenhouse & Garden Center
10613 Preston Hwy
Louisville, KY 40229
(502) 969-5655

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