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:

Zen Reprographics , George Demic

SM: Tell us about your business.

GD: Zen Reprographics has been in business since 2002. Our business is large-document reproduction.  Half of our business is for blueprints for architects and engineers, or documents for law firms and other organizations. We also do large-document reproductions for theatres.  

SM: Who is your target customer?

GD: A customer in need of a solution is a target customer. From year to year, our customer base can change depending on what is happening and what people need. Anyone we can help is a person we want to meet.

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

GD: There are a lot of new regulations these days. The color reproduction part of our business is hurting because business cannot use our services the same way. For example, theatres are closed and without shows, there is no need for printing services.

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

GD: Those of us who are still in the office have taken on added responsibilities. On my side of the business, I’ve stayed extremely busy. I’m working very hard to keep up with client needs.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

GD: Survive. The hope is that the pace of business becomes steadier once we’ve outlasted this situation.

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

GD: Know who you’re hiring. You may look into the future and hire for what you think is coming. But perhaps your vision wasn’t clear. You have to be careful about hiring for a situation that doesn’t exist and may never exist.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

GD: We feel inspired when we have a happy customer. When our customers come back to us, we don’t take that lightly. We’re proud of that. Similarly, when a new customer comes to us based on a recommendation, that makes us feel great.

How to Reach Us:

Zen Reprographics
648 S. 8th St.
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 587-1951
[email protected]

Metro Promotional Services, Tim McDonogh

SM: Tell us about your business.

TM: My grandfather started the business as a tavern that eventually sold bowling equipment and trophies. After the building burned down in the 1970s, he turned the company’s focus to bowling and trophies. My father took over the business in 1986, and we transitioned to focus on promotional products, embroidery, signs, awards, and similar items.

SM: Who is your target customer?

TM: Anyone who needs promotional products is a target customer. We help many schools, little leagues, businesses, organizations, and conventions.

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

TM: We took a substantial hit. Little leagues weren’t playing, companies stopped having their outings, and other events and social activities were cancelled. If we can get the schools back full time, that will be helpful.

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

TM: We started printing and selling masks. We did a lot of banners and signs for health clinics and hospitals. We worked to diversify as much as possible.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

TM: We want to upgrade the promotional side of our business. We’re going after larger accounts. We’re focused on schools and on keeping our own expenses down.

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

TM: In business, you have to keep a close watch on your numbers. Your overhead can quickly get out of hand. Prepare and save for tough times. Keep negotiating with people to keep expenses down.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

TM: These challenging times have taught me not to take anything for granted. I’ve always told my son that if you get up early and work hard, good things happen. You’re always getting better or worse. I love having the opportunity to get better each day.

OFFER: Receive 10% off your first order when you mention ActionCOACH.

How to Reach Us:

Metro Promotional Services
4333 Taylor Blvd
Louisville, KY 40215
(502) 368-9391

Director of Marketing, Inc., Amy Torres

MM: Tell us about your business.

AT: We serve as an outsourced director of marketing for small businesses. We fill marketing gaps for a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time employee. Our supporting network of marketing professionals stretches across North America. We either take marketing off your to-do list, or coach your employees how to execute your marketing strategy. Our goal is to help bring you customers, and help you become known as an expert in your field.

MM: Who is your target customer?

AT: We usually serve small businesses from 1-60 people. We’ve had a lot of success with business-to-business companies.

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

AT: We enjoy meeting with clients face-to-face, and that often wasn’t possible. Some companies had to lay off employees. If they laid off their marketing person, they turned to us to fill the gap.

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

AT: We transitioned to Zoom and Google Meet, but continued to meet in person when it was possible.

MM: What are your goals for 2021?

AT: We are taking advantage of new tools that are available such as Google Robot. We want to use those tools more effectively and more extensively this year and find innovative ways to drive traffic to our businesses.

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

AT: I waited too long to invest in quality software. It can be an expensive purchase. But sometimes, when you take the cheaper route first, it winds up being more expensive in the long-term.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

AT: Business owners who have struggled, but who have fight left in them. They’re coming in every day and taking action instead of making excuses.

OFFER: Receive a free digital snapshot report when you mention ActionCOACH.

How to Reach Us:

Director of Marketing, Inc.
(502) 727-0961
email Amy

Baxter’s Corner, Mary Ellen Stottmann

SM: Tell us about your business.

MS: Baxter’s Corner is a series of published books to teach young children how to make good choices. Parents are overwhelmed trying to help young people, especially during the pandemic, and these books are designed to make life a little easier. Our mission is to use creativity and storytelling to affect behavior choices through open discussion between children and adults about values and ethical topics that challenge us in today’s world.

SM: Who is your target customer?

MS: Educators, social workers, school superintendents, parents and others who want to help kids learn to make good decisions would be target customers.

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

MS: We would normally visit book shows, summer camps, and conferences. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do that last year because of the pandemic.

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

MS: We’ve worked on our social media activities. We’ve created videos, and we’ve continued selling.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

MS: We want to continue growing our presence in schools.

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

MS: Don’t get into a market before you’re ready. You can lose a lot of money that way. It can be hard to know how soon is too soon.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

MS: How beautiful the world is. I’ve had a lot of businesses, but as an artist, I’m always captivated by the beauty of the world.

OFFER: Receive 10% off the book collection when you call Mary Ellen and mention this newsletter.

How to Reach Us:

Baxter’s Corner
(502) 554-7752
[email protected]

Middletown Copies and Printing, Terri Felker

SM: Tell us about your business.

TF: Middletown Copies and Printing has been serving customers since 1993. I have been in the printing and copy business for 38 years. We do everything from letterheads to envelopes to banners. You might consider us a quick-print, small-commercial shop.

SM: Who is your target customer?

TF: We work with many offices, and we support many teaching endeavors.

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

TF: It seems like no one is in their office anymore, and everyone is working remotely. Furthermore, businesses are not teaching classes in person. Both of those changes have had an impact on our business and other small businesses. Everything changed when the pandemic started.

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

TF: We made sure not to carry debt. We know that this business has peaks and valleys, so we were somewhat prepared financially. Personally, I have cultivated alternative revenue streams this year.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

TF: We are just trying to survive. I own the building and have done what I could to secure favorable leasing terms, so those measures should help us this year.

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

TF: Remain as debt-free as you can. That allows you to ride a lot of waves.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

TF: I am inspired by the hope that the phone will ring, and I’ll be able to help the person on the other end achieve their goal.

OFFER: Buy 50 color copies or 500 business cards and get the same number free when you mention ActionCOACH.

How to Reach Us:

Middletown Copies and Printing
11714 Old Shelbyville Road
Louisville, KY 40243
(502) 244-8711

Clifford Distributing, Hal Clifford

MM: Tell us about your business.

HC: We are the largest bar supplier in the region. I started the business 38 years ago. Now we have family members working in the business.

MM: Who is your target customer?

HC: We help a variety of businesses, but we target nightclubs and entertainment venues.

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

HC: It has been huge. It’s been hard to get products.

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

TM: We targeted new customers. We marketed new items to our existing customers who might be open to new things. We have worked hard to keep products available and cost-effective. We always try to take care of our customers. Throughout the pandemic, we have done an excellent job of keeping gloves and masks available for our staff and customers.

MM: What are your goals for 2021?

TM: We sell to small, family-owned, or individual-owned businesses. We want to keep developing that market. We want to work with companies that would like to get customers in Louisville and would like to them to spend money in Louisville.

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

TM: I don’t think we have made too many mistakes. Don’t sell out trying to get a big account. We’ve managed to stay focused on small businesses. Don’t get greedy.

MM: What is inspiring to you today?

TM: I like to meet new customers. So many of my customers are now my friends. I enjoy getting to know people and their businesses. We help people when they urgently need supplies. It is like my work as a fireman. I just like to help people.

How to Reach Us:

Clifford Distributing
1711 W. Main St.
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 582-6522
[email protected]

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