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:

Century Industries, Bob Uhl

SM: Tell us about your business.

BU: We manufacture mobile facilities for people who put on outdoor events. You can deploy our facilities to any neighborhood or event. We make bleachers and grandstands as well as ticket booths and much more. We have been doing this for more than 40 years.

SM: Who is your target customer?

BU: We work with a lot of groups who are in the arts. We provide facilities that can be permanent but can also be relocated if necessary.

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

BU: It hit everyone in entertainment pretty hard. However, once people became comfortable getting together out of doors again, business picked up. People don’t buy our facilities on impulse, so that aspect helps with long-term stability. People plan their purchases from us.

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

BU: We have been designing a new stages and grandstands. We are making sure that all of our designs follow current best practices.

SM: What are your goals for 2021?

BU: We want to meet up with new customers and take care of old customers. We want to show everyone what we’ve been working on and get everyone rolling again.

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

BU: You just have to put your best foot forward. If something is not working well, view that as an opportunity to grow.

SM: What is inspiring to you today?

BU: Just being here inspires me.

How to Reach Us:

Century Industries
P.O. Box C
Sellersburg, IN 47172

(812) 246-3371

Email Us

Chris Bonbright, Curiosity Consulting
 
MM: Tell us about your business.
 
CB: Curiosity Consulting connects businesses to their consumers. We do that through market research. We help them find more consumers and more knowledge about the industry they’re in. We give them more information about their competitors and we help them run their business more efficiently.
 
MM: How long have you been in business?
 
CB: Curiosity Consulting started in January 2014. Before that I spent 20 years on the corporate side of market research.
 
MM: Who is your target market?
 
CB: I know so many people in the industry, particularly in the beverage/alcohol, automotive, and recreational products markets. Corporate clients call me when they need project help. Most of my business is with small to medium-sized businesses, anything from a start-up to a mid-sized business looking to grow and learn more about their customers. I do business-to-consumer and business-to-business research.
 
MM: What about agencies?
 
CB: Agencies are great clients and strategic partners. I work with agencies during the proposal process to help them understand an industry they may not be familiar with. I ultimately help them serve their end client with more information about their customers.
 
MM: What’s the greatest impact COVID-19 had on your business?
 
CB: I feel a little guilty, but there was never a better time to reach people because everyone was a captive audience. Research survey response rates and interviews increased dramatically. And I’m receiving more thoughtful and complete responses. Companies focused on what to do next want to conduct market research now. Business has improved for me during this time. I’m grateful.
 
MM: What one or two things have you done to make a difference?
 
CB: I think the best thing we can do is help one another. Before this, I offered free target market reviews to meet business owners. I asked them about their consumers and competitors. Now, I focus on referrals and strategic partners and give them the same offer. Plus, I give them a summary of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in terms of finding customers. I provide suggestions on what they can do short-term, without any real cost, to make a better connection with people that might bring them business.
 
MM: What mistakes did you make along the way, and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?
 
CB: During the first five years in business, I was blessed with a regular stream of clients, By the end of 2018, the projects stopped, and I realized I had gotten lazy with my networking. I wasn’t focused on the next project. That was the biggest mistake I made as far as marketing myself and my business.
 
MM: What is most inspiring to you today?
 
CB: My 16-year old daughter shows me every day she is more mature than I am. She’s handled this amazingly well. Kids are resilient. We as humans adapt, and the business community has done an amazing job of adapting and rallying around one another. I think that was lost for a long time. I’m heartened and inspired by how many business owners are out there helping one another.

OFFER: One free 60-minute target market review.

 

How to Reach Us:

Curiosity Consulting

(502) 821-2549

[email protected]

TK Broecker, The Print Refinery
 
MM: Tell us about your business.
 
TKB: We’re reinventing the way you experience images, graphics, and all forms of visual communication. We work with retail and commercial clients – turning photo memories and graphics into prized possessions and creating big marketing statements. Whether you want to update your business marketing signage or create a living room focal point, our team of experts will bring your vision to life.
 
MM: Who’s your target audience?
 
TKB: When it comes to the photo market, we appeal to the older generations and soccer moms. When it comes to the business side, the market tends to be small businesses. We can help with logos, business cards or any marketing products. During the pandemic, we helped many restaurants with to-go and take out signs as well as signs for graduating seniors and birthdays.
 
MM: What’s been the biggest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
 
TKB: For a while, we had to close our retail store, so our retail side slowed down quite a bit. However, business-to-business work picked up because they have to comply with new guidelines and need products to help with that. The hardest part right now is getting materials.
 
MM: What one or two things have you done in your business to adapt and make a difference?
 
TKB: COVID drove changes into our business almost every day it seems. The main thing we have been working on is our online ordering processes. We had to accelerate the completion and streamlining of online ordering for our clients as that was the only way they could order from us during the shutdown.
 
MM: What mistakes have you made along the way that other entrepreneurs can learn from?
 
TKB: I have made several mistakes trying different things. I would say it’s not necessarily a mistake to try something, but don’t hold on to it. At one point I decided to offer photo books and I should have gotten out of it within three months. I should have thought more about marketing the photo books, using better materials, and buying better equipment. If I had walked away sooner, I would have lost less money. When you add something new to the menu, don’t be afraid to take it off if it’s not working.
 
MM: What’s most inspiring to you today?
 
TKB: The changes I see coming. I think they are going to be good for businesses and consumers. The people I’ve met and that I stay in contact with inspire me to be the best I can be.

OFFER: Join the newsletter on our website to receive the latest deals and discounts.
 
How to Reach Us:

The Print Refinery
9451 Westport Road, Suite #119
Louisville, KY 40241

(502) 339-1999

[email protected]

Kristin Booker, Booker Design Collaborative
 
MM: Tell us about your business.

KB: Booker Design Collaborative is a landscape architecture and urban design firm focused on working with our clients, the design team and the public to create elegant solutions to complex planning and design issues. Our work ranges from small residential projects to park and playground designs for schools and municipalities, to private projects and development plans. We work on neighborhood master plans, tree master plans, and design manuals for communities to set a standard of improvement in their public areas.
 
MM: What’s a neighborhood master plan?
 
KB: A master plan is developed when neighborhood residents and other stakeholders review existing conditions in the community and identify what they want to improve. The plan sets a grand vision for that effort and is incorporated into a document that guides the implementation of that plan. For instance, there may be a series of gateways at subdivision entrances. We provide designs for those as well as maintenance plans, and cost estimates for the work.
 
MM: Who is your target audience?

KB: We have a broad range of customers, but our best customers are those that are really energized by the process of idea creation, as we gain much of our inspiration from them. It’s so satisfying to create a space where homeowners spend exponentially more time in and fall in love with their outdoor space. It’s a place that they can have a lot of great gatherings and memories.

MM: Has your business been impacted by COVID-19?
 
KB: It has caused people to think more carefully about the way they plan, execute and implement their projects. People notice their home surroundings more because they are spending more time there. They want to make improvements for a higher-quality standard of living.
 
MM: What are one or two actions that you’ve taken to make a difference?
 
KB: We quickly adjusted to working remotely. Given this new work setting, we are learning how to adjust our work schedules to fit what’s going on around us on any given day. I feel like the rest of the team is having a positive experience and we’re grateful for technology and the online platforms that allow us to stay connected with one another.

MM: What mistakes have you made along the way and how can other entrepreneurs learn from your experience?
 
KB: I haven’t always been as responsive as I should have been. I try to touch base with people more in this time. Things may be getting done in slower time frames right now, but they are getting done. If your work pace is slower, be sure to let your clients know. The other piece of advice I have is to allow yourself to make mistakes and not beat yourself up too badly. Keep moving forward.
 
MM: What’s most inspiring to you today?
 
KB: My son has done really well on his homework. He is almost 100 percent caught up. which is really admirable given the coursework and the online virtual learning environment.

How to Reach Us:

Booker Design Collaborative
954 E. Kentucky Street, Suite 1
Louisville, KY 40204

(502) 795-7788

[email protected]

Tanya Hirschy, Tidy Books
 
MM: Tell us a bit about your business.
 
TH: Tidy Books is a boutique bookkeeping firm and we opened in 2017. We take care of the day-to-day details of your finances and gather the information you need to file your taxes via your accountant. We help you keep a clear picture of how your business is performing financially.
 
MM: Who is your target market?
 
TH: Our niche is photography businesses, but we can serve any small business. I had a photography business in the past, and I’ve always been interested in bookkeeping, so that was how I got started. If you’re at the point where you don’t have time to manage your own books, or if you just don’t enjoy doing that, we can help. We free you up to focus on growing your business.
 
MM: How did the pandemic impact your business?
 
TH: We serve a niche that was greatly affected by COVID-19. We lost revenue. A couple of clients put their services on hold. At the same time, we saw an influx of business. Bookkeeping is a necessity. You have to keep accurate records, and you have to know what’s going on with your money.
 
MM: What is one action you’ve taken to make a difference?
 
TH: Early on I realized my clients needed guidance with funding related to loans and grants. I researched what they would need to know and gave them accurate information. I’ve kept up to date on what is being offered. My clients have sometimes just needed a shoulder to lean on and someone to talk with about their situation.
 
MM: What is a mistake you’ve made along the way that other entrepreneurs could learn from?
 
TH: I work with a team, but from the beginning I neglected to build a team environment. I was busy building the business, and I didn’t put a lot of time into building a team. I wish I would have had more of a strategy for team-building from the beginning. That would have helped me depend more on the strengths of my team members.
 
MM: What are you most grateful for today?
 
TH: For my husband’s support in this endeavor. Taking care of six children and running a business is not easy. If my husband hadn’t been my biggest cheerleader, I would not be where I am today.

How to Reach Us:

Tidy Books

(765) 546-8562

Email Us

Would you like to be featured in the next Business Owners Speak Out? 
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