Business Owners Speak Out: Spotlighting Solon’s Businesses – October 7, 2020

Here’s a collection of interviews from local business owners with amazing insights into today’s challenges.

ActionCOACH’s Mark Phelps virtually sits down with fellow members of the Solon Chamber of Commerce and dives into what’s really happening.

Check out their inspiring stories for tips on how to cope with and successfully recover from this pandemic, and learn how to avoid making common mistakes. Be sure to check out special offers from these businesses. We can all use a little extra help right now!

And, most importantly, visit the company websites. Reach out to those who offer services you can use. Let’s support each other and get through this together!

Mish Mosh Owner, Chandler Curtis

Come to Mish Mosh for an eclectic, all fresh, style menu. Every dish at Mish Mosh uses fresh meat and seafood that is imported fresh from the east coast. They have the finest sourced angus beef and organic produce. Started by successful restaurateurs with 50 years of experience, Mish Mosh is a family business that holds the highest standards for their food and for themselves.They have growth ambitions and have a second location in the works.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?

Chandler Curtis (CC): We try to appeal to everyone. We have great handcrafted cocktails and an ever-changing selection of craft beers on draft. We mainly try to appeal to 21-years-olds and up. We try to fill every age bracket and every kind of demographic.

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

CC: I think people are skeptical to eat out but I can assure any customer that we sanitize every table. We sanitize anything that’s in touch with a single use menu. We even have a QR code for the menu for customers to feel more comfortable.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?

CC: We made sure everything is six feet apart and we use QR codes for the menu. We are developing plexiglass bar dividers and for in between the tables. We also have a big patio, side patio, and front patio that are all properly ready for this new day in age. This has also brought better attention to our curbside service which was wildly successful.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?

CC: I think we could have done slightly better. We could have done better with advertisements, and we could have been a little more active on social media.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?

CC: Everyone fighting through COVID and everyone coming together to get through this virus. All of our customers are regulars that have continued to come in to support us. They have inspired me with their patronage.

Contact: mishmosheatery@gmail.com, (440) 349-7300, www.mishmosheatery.com – Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MishMosh5020 and on Instagram: MishMoshEatery.

Protect-O-Seal Owner, Bruce Chelnick

Protect-O-Seal handles your asphalt maintenance for commercial parking lots and roadways. They’ve been patching, fixing cracks, and striping roadways since 1985.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?

Bruce Chelnick (BC): Real estate developers, landowners, factories, and shopping centers all fall into the commercial category. 

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

BC: We are having a difficult time getting employees primarily because people are getting compensated and are not interested in working.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?

BC: Our actions are working well. We use online ads, social media, and word of mouth which have been very successful in the current position. We are looking for two to four more people to bring to the team.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?

BC: Well one of the mistakes that I tend to make is I get a little complacent in the fall and winter. I am not as diligent as I could be in seeking out additional work. Some of it has to do with burn out of summertime and it takes awhile to recuperate.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?

BC: People that are serious and interested in working and helping customers. My family definitely inspires me as well.

Contact: bruce@protect-o-seal.com, (440) 946-9494, http://www.protect-o-seal.com

ABL Screen Printing Owner, Louis Demarco

With 20 years in Solon, ABL Screen Printing is your local family owned contract and end user screen printer and embroider. They screen print and embroider garments from D1 colleges all the way down to grade schools and are the decorator for companies and organizations. ABL stands for son Anothony, wife Beth, and husband Lou.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?

Louis Demarco (LD): The best type of customer is a huge corporation who orders thousands of dollars of shirts annually. BSN sports is the biggest team dealer in the country, and we are one of their preferred decorators. We are the primary decorator for college athletic departments such as Bowling Green and Penn State.

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

LD: Shutting down sports has been the greatest impact; 90% of my business is sports.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?

LD: We have got to survive this. We do the best we can and continue to treat our employees as best we can. I mostly tried to keep our business afloat and was always available if someone needed something.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?

LD: The quality of employees was not as good as it could have been so I could be a sharper hirer and look for the right people for this job. We want a quality individual who has good work ethic and honest work ethic.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?

LD: I always provide for my family; they are most important. I have my own set of standards for myself, and I always strive to push myself. I owe that to every person I hire and employ. So what drives me is the integrity of this business. I want people to know that when they get something from ABL that we stand behind it.

Contact: louisdemarco@sbcglobal.net, (440) 914-0093, www.ablscreenprinting.com – Look us up and give us a call! Especially if you are looking for anything garment or decorating related.

Edward Jones Mark Kautzman Owner, Mark Kautzman

Mark Kautzman of Edward Jones helps individuals and small business owners pursue their lifelong financial goals by focusing on retirement, education, saving money on taxes, and preparing for the unexpected.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?

Mark Kautzman (MK): The people I best serve are people in transition. There are different chapters in your life where an old chapter ends and a new chapter begins which is usually a great time to see what track you’re on for your long term financial goals. This could be college graduates, new career, wedding, divorce, having a child, or retirement. I find recent empty nesters to be uniquely ready to access their financial goals.

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

MK: The volatility we saw in March really made a significant downturn which created a lot of great conversations with clients. Behavioral finance becomes part of the mix and people feel like they should change something or move investments. This leads to making the greatest mistakes by making long-term decisions based on short-term headlines and events.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?

MK: Being proactive and reaching out to clients during these times. A big role of my job is to make sure that people understand what is going on and that they are still on track. Emotions can take over and you can take your eye off the long term plan that we put together so we help people to refocus on that in these times.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?

MK: When seeking new prospective clients, it is easy for people to get into their own head and not ask the right questions. I get in my own head sometimes and have had some missteps. I encourage other entrepreneurs to stay outside of their own head and keep asking questions.  

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?

MK: I guess in this environment I love to see people, small business owners, focus on the positive and not the negative scenarios that are so prevalent right now because of COVID. People who can pursue good business and a good family life and just forge ahead. I love to see how people are acting in a positive way in the midst of all this negativity.

Contact: mark.kautzman@edwardjones.com, (440) 248-6774, www.edwardjones.com/mark-kautzman – Mention this interview and receive a complimentary consultation to get a second set of eyes on your goals.

Talent Principles LLC Owner, Kathy Sullivan

Talent Principles is a consultancy focused on organizational development and leadership development for small to medium sized businesses. With expertise in human resources, talent development, and management consulting, Kathy Sullivan supports businesses as a fractional integrator and individual coach.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?

Kathy Sullivan (KS): My target audience is primarily small to medium-size business owners. These are businesses that are trying to scale and the owners are working more in the business than on the business or perhaps don’t have the resources or funds to hire a full-time resource.

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

KS: I imagine, along with others, that it was a loss of business. I did lose some clients due to their economic or financial status. Fortunately, a lot of the work that I have been doing over the years has been virtual.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?

KS: As an owner of a business and a parent, part of it is self care. I think that is really critical now, not just for business owners, but for their employees too. Another thing is looking at how you can serve customers differently and how you can be innovative. This will help to identify additional needs that your clients may have given these changes to help support them and diversify your offerings to your client base. I have also invested in an e-learning platform to scale my own business to leverage my skills and knowledge to serve my clients on a more of a real-time basis. 

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?

KS: This is a good question because as an educator, that is how we learn best – through making mistakes. I make a lot of mistakes, and I think it is all about reframing. It is about thinking why did you go into the business that you’re doing? Who do you serve? And how can you leverage that more? I took what I learned from other business owners and what I have learned throughout my career. I was more intentional as I started my business so I leveraged the resources that were available to me. The learning here is to stay close to your clients and maintain those relationships even though the work may not come now; it may serve your business down the line.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?

KS: I would say it comes down to seeing how people are really rising to the occasion to help out those in need and to leverage what their business is doing to help the community. I have seen this in a number of different ways and I think it is great to figure out how you can leverage your expertise to serve others. It is about purpose.

Offer: “If there is any business owner that is having challenges themselves, or within their teams, around performance and accountability, communication, dealing with conflict, and/or facilitating positive change to reach out to me for a 30-minute complimentary consultation”.

Contact: kathy@talentprinciples.com, (440) 394-8285, www.talentprinciples.com – Any business owner that is having challenges themselves, or within their teams, around performance and accountability, communication, dealing with conflict, and/or facilitating positive change, reach out to me for a 30-minute complimentary consultation.

Miracle Medical Transportation Inc. Director of Operations, Ronnita Smith

Miracle Medical Transportation shuttles people to and from appointments. Get a ride to your doctors appointments, dialysis trips, or to the grocery store. The transportation services are covered by different insurance companies and they also accept private pay.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?

Ronnita Smith (RS): The senior community across the state of Ohio is definitely our target customers. We work with nursing facilities and different hospitals when they need hospital discharges.

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

RS: I would definitely say having to cut our staff down by about 50-60% because people have stopped scheduling in-person appointments and now have virtual appointments which causes less driving to be done. 

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?

RS: We have our drivers cleaning our vehicles to ensure that our clients and drivers are as safe as possible, and we encourage everyone to wear face masks. We let everyone know that we are still here for our customers. We do not usually do more than one passenger in the car to keep everybody as socially distant as possible.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?

RS: Communication is definitely a big part of keeping everything running smoothly. The major thing is to keep everybody in this transportation company on the same page.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?

RS: Hope is inspiring right now. Nothing is going to be the same as it was before but we are just hoping that we will get adjusted and adapted to the new normal. I want everyone to keep on pushing in hopes that everything will get close to the way things were before.

Contact: miracletransportation@gmail.com, (440) 995-8888

Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern General Manager, Sue Deck

An area staple since 2007, the Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern offers all American comfort food with many made from scratch options. Their number one philosophy is putting their associates first which promotes a happy and positive mindset and results in their guests being treated like VIPs. Rusty Bucket puts culture first and credits how they run their business as what enables them to thrive.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?

Sue Deck (SD): I would say 30 to 40 year-olds as well as families in and around Solon. We pride ourselves as the place for families on special holidays.

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

SD: We haven’t had a lot of dine-in guests because of COVID. I know people are a little worried about going out to eat in public so the dine-in aspect hit us pretty hard. The biggest struggle was also trying to get the associates that came back to work for us to start making money again. That was something that was very difficult because we are now operating at half capacity and have half of the tables. Servers are coming in and not making anything. I will say, however, that it is starting to get better.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?

SD: We utilized the Governor’s order that allowed for us to expand tables to the parking lot and we added 14 tables. This has been a huge move on our part and the restaurant has now been filling up on the weekends. People are eating here again so servers have been making money. Another thing we have done is sell carryout alcohol. This has helped and became a game changer for us.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?

SD: You want to make sure that the people that work for you are happy in order to show the guests that they are having fun and are in a good mood. Instead of going through the motions of getting food out and filling beverages, we try to give our customers a VIP experience. You have to treat the people that work for you well to help customers experience a good atmosphere.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?

SD: The perseverance and the camaraderie that my company has had through all of this. We have stuck together to ensure that we are going to get through it. I had my doubts, and I was scared that I was not going to have a job after this but they did everything in their power to make sure that we still had something to go back to after it was all over.

Contact: gm.solon@myrustybucket.com, (440) 248-2300, www.myrustybucket.com – Become a subscriber and get exclusive deals by going to our website!

Gallmann Group/ Re/Max Haven Realty Owner, Robert Gallmann

Number one in Solon sales since 1996, Gallmann Group sells more real estate than any other team or individual. The focus and the goal of Gallmann Group is the client experience and making sure the client has an easy transaction. Over 75% of business has been generated through referrals and people they know. Gallmann group is a family business started in 1981.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?

Robert Gallmann (RG): We sell real estate on the Eastside of Cleveland. We do not go everywhere because we like to focus on areas where we are very knowledgeable. So we work everywhere from Mayfield down to Stow and from 77 out through Geauga County. We are here to help whoever needs help buying real estate, whether it is investment, first house/last house, downsize, new construction, and luxury homes. We are strictly residential.

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

RG: It is the face-to-face meetings but like everybody else, we have figured out how to work around it. Since COVID hit in the spring, we never had a spring market which caused us to have a crazy summer market.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?

RG: We have done a lot of virtual things such as virtual showing, virtual open houses, and virtual listing appointments. We do whatever is comfortable with the client. Some people are very limited in their technology experience so we have even sat in lawn chairs in the front yard 10 feet away and had conversations to provide them with the best level of service possible. We are trying to cater to the market which has all been changed and flipped upside down as a result of COVID.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?

RG: One from a staffing perspective is that sometimes we hire too quickly and fire too slow. Maybe you went a little too quick in the hiring process because it felt good and you didn’t get into the analytics or see the big picture. So we have to evolve and morph into being a little more cerebral.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?

RG: The opportunity is inspiring to me. From the real estate perspective, there is nothing like our business. The rates are fantastic, and it is a great time to buy a house again. There are way too many people that are renting, and more need to be buying because it makes so much more financial sense using real estate as a wealth building tool.

Offer: No obligation, free consultation to sit down and talk about your real estate needs.

Contact: robert@clevelandhomes.com, (440) 248-2548, www.clevelandhomes.com – Contact the Gallmann Group for a no obligation, free consultation to sit down and talk about your real estate needs.

Kelco Transportation Owner, Jim Kelvington

Kelco Transportation Services was founded in 1985 as a transportation trucking company and in 2014 switched to a minibus with a lift gate to lift up wheelchairs. Kelco now serves nursing centers by transporting their guests to doctors appointments. They have thirteen wheelchair vehicles and three minibusses.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?

Jim Kelvington (JK): Nursing centers and rehab communities are our target because our growth and our main focus of business is the wheelchair side. Nursing center and retirement communities have people in wheelchairs that need to be transported

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

JK: Business is half of what it was a year ago. It eliminated the shuttle side of the business. It affected all the airport runs, the weddings, and ball games which were all shut down. It was all gone but it is starting to come back now.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?

JK: We have been able to adjust ourselves, our spending, and our exposure so that we could survive. Our goal was to still be a strong, compassionate wheelchair/shuttle service when we all come back.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?

JK: I think one of the biggest mistakes is getting the wrong people for what we do. The hardest thing is to find the right person that knows how to handle people. You have to find the right fit person for the team.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?

JK: The most inspiring is getting that thank you from the customers. When you wheel that 95-year-old lady up in the wheelchair or take her out of it and bring her on the bus, they look you right in the eye and say “thank you, that was wonderful!” It melts your heart that someone that age still has the ability to get out and do a little bit of something because of what we do. They thank us from the bottom of their hearts, and that is so rewarding for us.

Contact: jkelvington@kelcoservices.com, (440) 542-4410, www.kelcoservices.com – Be sure and ask about their getaways and mini buses!

Becker Group Owner, Hal Becker

An author and sales consultant, Hal Becker works with companies on their sales structure. Whether its through reorganization, sales management, sales training, or negotiating customer service, Hal uses his 30 years of experience to get a company on track to meet and exceed its sales goals.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?

Hal Becker (HB): Anybody that has a salesforce is a target audience but I only really work with CEO’s or vice presidents so that we can start at the top to make that change. I mostly work with companies with $500 million in sales or more.

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

HB: I set up a built in Zoom studio with high quality microphones and said “let’s do this right” so people could get the same experience they would if it was live. Even though the business is down, it is the greatest thing ever because it slowed me down and allowed me to focus on my “bucket list”.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?

HB: Since there are no more in-person meetings, you have to reinvent yourself. You have to flip the switch and not make it about yourself, but make it about your customer. Now that I am older, I am enjoying the back nine where I am picking and choosing and it is a non-event.

MP: It’s been said that smart people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What are some mistakes you’ve made over the years that other entrepreneurs could learn from?

HB: The first thing I am going to say is that I am not a smart person but the thing that has helped me become successful was working harder than other people. I am the author of two books so if I would talk to any other sales trainers, or people like myself who are authors, I would recommend staying in your genre. Writing books across topics hurt my brand as a sales trainer.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?

HB: The most inspiring thing to me today is life. Everyday I wake up and want to enjoy the day. Let’s enjoy the moment while we still have them.

Contact: hbecker914@aol.com, (216) 536-5000, http://www.halbecker.com