Business Owners Speak Out: Spotlighting Solon’s Businesses

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!

Partners Environmental Consulting Owner, Dan Brown
Partners Environmental Consulting is an industry leading integrated, full service environmental, safety, engineering and surveying firm, incorporated in the State of Ohio and with offices in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Colorado.  We have established a global capability, providing a wide range of services, in numerous countries and regions.  

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Dan Brown (DB): It varies depending on the practice area.We work with manufacturers on environmental and safety compliance.Our transactional business deals with all the people focused on real estate work. So that could be bankers and lawyers, as well as developers and various real estate investors. Then with our engineering and surveying, that tends to be people dealing with real estate, and also municipalities that have road, sewer, and water projects.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
DB: Well, the problem is the shutdown of our clients’ businesses because we’re consultants. If our clients aren’t working, then we’re not working. And it’s been pretty dramatic. We’re surviving, but it’s been pretty devastating.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
DB: Well, I would say that we established our entire company as a remote operation. That worked pretty effectively except I think there’s a fair amount of fallout from people just being isolated. We’ve also developed procedures with our clients to implement project work that can be done safely or remotely or with new technology in order to get their work done in the COVID world as they’ve tried to re-open.

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?
DB: Well, we’ve done a fair number of acquisitions. I would say that I don’t think we looked closely enough, or understood well enough, the long term plans of the former owners of those businesses and how they were aligned or not aligned with our company. And that created a lot of complications. I would say that’s probably been the biggest learning experience of that process.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
DB: Somebody doing something for someone else. Someone volunteering some time. Someone helping someone in some way, helping each other in the community. I see that every day and I think sometimes all the headlines and the media and the tweeting and all the activity that’s out there tends to focus on all the negativity that’s going on. And actually, there’s way more positive behavior. It’s just a little harder to find, but I’m inspired by just very simple, simple acts of kindness that I see happening each day and still happening in this very difficult time.

Contact: You can reach Dan Brown by email at info@partnersenv.com, by phone at (800) 763-1363, and on the web at www.partnersenv.com.

Karine Garfield Howard Hanna – Owner, Karine Garfield
Everything I touch turns to SOLD!
As Solon office’s number one realtor in sales and listings, I am determined to deliver superior real estate service, knowledge and guidance. My 20 years of experience in the industry allows you to expect more from your home purchase or sale. When you’ve made the decision to make a move in the Greater Cleveland area, you owe it to yourself to work with a real estate professional who gives you the confidence to exceed your expectations.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Karine Garfield (KG): People looking to buy or sell residential property. The majority of my business is in Solon, but I also serve the wider area. I work with people buying or selling a home, it can be a small condominium or a $900,000 house.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
KG: First of all, Howard Hanna has been unbelievable. They’re a very agent-centric company, so you really really get a ton of support. We’re essential, so we never stopped working, but they were really critical in helping me as an agent figure out ways to market houses and how to make people feel comfortable. Virtual touring has taken off, and now we have a better platform that’s more user friendly. Secondly, there was some time to stop and step back and analyze where I can get stronger. So having that break was really great. It allowed me to step back, refresh my database, and reach out to people. There was a combination of doing a lot more technical and knowledge oriented tasks, but also re-connecting on a human level, and calling a lot of people and just asking how they were doing.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
KG: Continuing a disciplined schedule is really important, and then trying to be different and trying to figure out how you can continue to get business. Now, there were always going to be the sellers who don’t have to move and felt very uncomfortable with putting their houses up on the market, understandably. But there’s always people coming and going that have to because of a life change, whether there was a job transfer or a divorce, whatever it may be. So I had to really focus on that, the people that had to buy. So, focusing on knowing who really has a strong real estate need and finding that prospect and waking up every day and acting like things are the same in some way.

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?
KG: When you’re busy and you’re meeting your numbers, sometimes you want to take a vacation and enjoy yourself. That’s okay, but to constantly prospect is really the key, like every day on your desk have something relating to prospecting for business. Keep the idea that when you’re very busy, keep prospecting so that you don’t have this really down cycle when the seasons change. 

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
KG: I’m a survivor, in the sense that I moved here when I was 17. And I wanted to be a dancer and I figured it out. I didn’t speak much English. There’s always a way that you can reinvent yourself. You always have to constantly get inspired, and I don’t think there’s one specific thing that does it. I’m inspired by my family, my children and trying to teach them that way too. I mean, we’re living through a once in a lifetime event. I would say everybody that’s working to make this better also is inspiring. So I don’t have just one thing that I look at that inspires me. 

Contact: You can reach Karine Garflied by email at karinegarfield@howardhanna.com, by phone at (216) 695-9677, and on the web at https://karinegarfield.howardhanna.com/. Call for complimentary help in staging your house when you go with Karine Garflied!

Homewatch CareGivers of Solon – Manager, Rosey Malkin
At Homewatch CareGivers of Solon, we provide compassionate in-home caregiving services to care for your loved one, while giving you the ultimate peace of mind knowing they are in good hands.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Rosey Malkin (RM): We serve individuals with developmental disabilities. And we also serve seniors. We’ve found that millennials are the ones looking for care for their grandparents.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
RM: Here, people are very fearful. We have very detailed, extensive COVID-19 policies for all of our staff because we are an essential business. So, we have not stopped going into people’s homes or into facilities. A lot of it is education too. It’s us educating the public, the caregivers, and the consumer.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
RM: We’ve made several adjustments. We supply all of our staff with personal protective gear. We do one-on-one education with people, with caregivers, and with families that utilize our services about COVID-19. We teach how to hand wash properly,how to put on your mask,what order you should be putting on your PPE,how you should take things off, and how to protect yourself.
We’ve also met as a leadership team every Wednesday, and we talk about some of the things that are rearing their ugly heads in the business and how we’re gonna combat them and how we’ll get ahead of things. I think that’s the biggest thing – just getting ahead of things.

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?
RM: We’ve made the mistake of not making sure everybody on the team was in the right role. Be sure to focus in on people’s strengths, set them up to actually utilize their strengths, and give them all the tools to do their job better.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
RM: I feel for the first time I’m actually putting myself in a senior’s shoes. Because if you think about it, the loneliness, the boredom, the isolation – that’s something seniors experience every single day. So it’s inspiring to me to see how a lot of seniors have really kept a very positive attitude through all of this and really persevered through it. In the nursing homes and assisted living centers, some of my clients have said this is like prison right now (because they’re only allowed out of their rooms for a very short extended period of time; they’re only allowed to see their families for half hour visits, like once a week). I mean, could you imagine? So it’s inspiring to me that they’re able to really push through this and tolerate it.

Contact: You can reach Rosey Malkin by email at rmalkin@hwcg.com, by phone at (330) 998-2615, and on the web at www.homewatchcaregivers.com. Call Homewatch Caregivers for a complimentary in-home evaluation!

Healthmarkets – Owner, Steven Lichtig

HealthMarkets Insurance Agency is one of the largest independent health insurance agencies in the United States and is licensed to market and sell health insurance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We distribute health insurance, Medicare, life and supplemental insurance products from more than 200 insurance companies with thousands of plans available nationwide to individuals and families, seniors, small business owners and their employees.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Steven Lichtig (SL): The two markets are the under 65 health insurance and the over 65, which is Medicare. And I say that as a generalization because there are individuals who are under 65 who can get Medicare. But as far as Medicare, someone who’s new to Medicare, whether it’s because they’re turning 65 or because they became disabled and now they’re eligible for Medicare.  The best customer is the person that’s eager to learn, even if it’s just a matter of they want to learn what they need and how I can help them.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
SL: I’ve had a lot of people who are laid off and they don’t know when they’re going back. So maybe they’re only losing their insurance for the short term. I’ve had others where the company doesn’t know if they can bring them back. I think that’s a big impact. I also think a huge impact is that people don’t want to meet in person. Before, a lot of my business was meeting individuals in person and most people no longer want to do that. .

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
SL: I’m now meeting with people primarily over Zoom as I’ve found more people are familiar with the tool, regardless of their age. There are times when I need a signature, and with Zoom I can easily pass the controls to you and you can sign it right away.

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?
SL: We all make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect when we start doing it. It’s kind of ironic. When I first started, which is seven years ago, we had milestones we had to meet to hit next level milestones. And I missed the first milestone. And so my sales manager thought to himself, “He’s not going to make it. He’ll be gone in a few months.” And then I hit every other milestone since then. So it’s interesting that maybe I wasn’t pushing myself to begin with. I realized that the more I push myself, the easier it gets. I know there are people that don’t push themselves as much as they could.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
SL: Being able to spend time with my family and take vacations with them whether it’s here or somewhere else.

Contact: You can reach Steven Lichtig by email at slichtig@healthmarkets.com, by phone at (330) 908-0200, and on the web at www.homewatchcaregivers.com. Call Healthmarkets for a free live virtual consultation!

The Traction Lab – Owner, Gene Roberts

As an EOS® Implementer, I help business owners and entrepreneurs like you to get more of what you want from your companies. What is EOS® all about? In three words: Real. Simple. Results.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Gene Roberts (GR): My target market is entrepreneurial leadership teams of companies that are between 10 and 250 employees and have somewhere between $2 million in revenue and $100 million in revenue, ideally. But more importantly, for me, it’s not the demographic of the geographic, but the psychographic. They must be open minded. They must be willing to be vulnerable. They must want help. They must be willing to be open and honest about everything and anything. 

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
GR: We’ve reminded our clients that billionaires were born during recessions. So there’s opportunity in all this. You just have to find the opportunity. The ability for a leadership team to come together as an open, honest, collaborative and cohesive leadership team, ultimately finding those opportunities and executing really well one great 90-day world at a time is the difference. There are a lot of opportunities out there and the people who are focused, who have a strong leadership team where the right people are in the right seats, who have a long term vision or short term strategy to get there are just absolutely thriving. Many of my clients are reporting that this has been the best year of their business careers, not the worst, like you’re hearing on the news and other places.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
GR: So I’d say two things there. Number one, getting back to the basics, focusing on their core focus, using that vision traction organizer to make sure that they stay focused on a long term vision with a short term plan to get there. And second, make sure that the leadership team is healthy, open and honest about everything and anything so we can find the root cause and solve it at the root cause for the long term greater good.

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?
GR: The first entrepreneurial business that I started, I owned all the major functions. And what I mean by that is, I was the person who had to be involved with all the big sales, and I’m the one who had to drive operational excellence, and I’m the one who had to manage the money. What it took me too long to realize was that I needed to delegate and elevate. I needed to find the right people to own those major functions and just be the leader and manager that I need to be, creating a culture of accountability so each of the major functions performs well.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
GR: That’s pretty easy, because I’m seeing it time and time again. There are a lot of great people out there. I’ve got clients who had to furlough or lay people off at the beginning of COVID, before PPP was even an opportunity or an option, and many of my clients reported that employees still came to work. They still cared enough about the purpose, the cause or the passion of the business to show up and do work, even though they weren’t getting paid. I’ve had a number of sessions where there have been tears in my eyes, quite frankly, about the goodness in people and the way that people truly care more about others than they do about themselves, just giving what they can to help keep the organization running and afloat during these tough times. So the inspiration is that there are a lot of really, truly great people out there, and a lot of my clients are very fortunate to have them on their teams.

Contact: You can reach Gene Roberts by email at groberts@grow-smart.com, by phone at (216) 701-2114, and on the web at www.grow-smart.com. Contact The Traction lab for a free, no-strings attached 90-Minute Meeting to learn what EOS is all about! Members of Solon Chamber of Commerce running a small to midsize company may reach out to Gene Roberts for a free copy of the book “Traction.”  

Solon Branch (Cuyahoga County Public Library) – Manager, Julie Liedtke

Cuyahoga County Public Library offers the very best in public library service because you deserve it. We’re focused on being the center of community life for you. And, we remain dedicated to creating an environment where reading, lifelong learning and civic engagement thrive.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Julie Liedtke (JL): Everybody. Birth to 100, and everybody in between. The library is a resource for families. We are a resource for those that are looking for jobs. We are a resource for people first coming to the United States. We are a resource for students. And, we’re here for someone looking for their next great read.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
JL: The library, unfortunately, can no longer be the gathering space for people. We’ve just had to reorganize so that we can still provide the resources. The greatest challenge has really been trying to find that balance between trying to provide the most convenient and efficient services, along with all the guidelines and protocols that have had to be put into place for the health and safety of everybody. So, we have offerings for people that can’t come. Some of our branches have drive-up windows. We’re offering curbside service for branches such as Solon that do not have the drive up window. We are reachable by phone. If anybody goes to our website, they can see the many services that the library is still passing along to people.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
JL: We just had to reimagine a different kind of engagement with people. Our branches are being cleaned throughout the day. We have followed the guidelines of our health experts, and we have a fantastic facilities team who is ensuring every day that we are able to provide a healthy and safe environment for those that are able to visit us. We’ve been reopened to the public for about a month and we learned something new every day. One of the great things that we are missing is the programming. We miss our storytimes and our after school programs and being able to really engage with our community. But we are working on trying to provide additional online programming. If you go to the website you can see what we’re putting in place to still connect with our library users. 

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?
JL: We encourage feedback and listen to our stakeholders. That feedback goes directly into trying to change, improve, or explain the rationale for the decision that we make.You can discuss something to death and still not have a resolution. Or, sometimes you say, “Okay, let’s try this.” If that doesn’t work, then we’ll learn from that and we’ll get feedback.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
JL: The resiliency of people. We are facing a lot of hardships in a variety of ways. That’s nothing new, but I still take a look at life, and just take inspiration from those little things. This is kind of cheesy, but take time to stop and smell the roses. That’s what inspires me. When I see that happening and then try to apply that to my own life. I think that, regardless of all the hardships and challenges that our community is facing, it’s inspiring to see the resiliency.

Contact: You can reach Julie Liedtke by email at jliedtke@cuyahogalibrary.org, by phone at (440) 248-8777, and on the web at www.cuyahogalibrary.org/Branches/Solon. The library is open and encourages you to visit or connect with them online!

MilliCare of Northern Ohio, LLC – Owner, Michael Opsitnick

Through summer rain storms or winter blizzards, your Northern Ohio business needs clean, dry floors. milliCare of Northern Ohio offers a variety of commercial floor cleaning services to help keep your floors and carpets in like-new condition for years to come. From our entryway systems, which can prevent dirt and debris from making it into the building to our advanced Dry Polymer carpet cleaning method, milliCare has the right solution for the needs of your business. The best part is our products are engineered to leave no residue and therefore your carpet stays cleaner for longer and requires less frequent cleaning.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Michael Opsitnick (MO): We work with a lot of call centers, retail, phone stores, office buildings, insurance companies, banks, apartment complexes, internet companies. I’d love to mention names because they’re all well known names, but I don’t want anybody to get angry. We just do commercial work. We don’t do any residential.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
MO: Customers delaying work. We did get the PPP which was a great help. It helped a lot more in Ohio, because we were working. So the money that you’d be paying in payroll and healthcare, and rent as such was being paid. That enabled us to get ahead of the game a little bit. We had a couple of weeks where we didn’t have any work. This month I have too much work.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
MO: With most people working from home, we’ve done a couple things. We’ve been advertising on the Solon Chamber’s newsletter as well as reaching out to members via email. We’ve also been connecting with and interacting with people and companies using LinkedIn. Our crews now all carry hand sanitizer and masks as well as clean the vehicles more often and more thoroughly.

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?
MO: Well I agree we all learn from mistakes and I’ll say something that I said to my kids years ago. My one son, when he was about 18 or 19, said to me, “How come you’re always telling me what to do? Don’t do this. Don’t do that.” I said, “Because I’ve made the mistakes that you’re about to make” So we all make mistakes, and we learn from them. I’ve been in a family business for 25 years in construction. We maintained all the Westinghouse facilities in Pittsburgh. They closed them all one by one. Our parents think that there will always be a job here or this company here will always be open. Well, in today’s world, there’s no such thing as a permanent job. So I’ve learned to be conservative. I think things out. I have a couple confidants that I bounce things off of who I respect. I know I don’t know everything. I’m not afraid to ask advice from someone I respect.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
MO: The most inspiring thing to me today is my technicians are young, and they have a work ethic that just has no end. It’s very difficult to find people to work and I’m not alone in that respect, but my technicians are inspiring, and it pushes me to work harder. I have great employees. They’re at the top of their game. Our employees go through a milliCare University. They can tell which fiber is made out of what product. Everybody in the company, except my wife who is the CFO, has taken all the classes. We are IICRC certified, Green Seal Approved, certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute.

Contact: You can reach Michael Opsitnick by email at mopsitnick@millicare.net, by phone at (330) 603-8525, and on the web at www.millicare.com/northern-ohio/. Upon request, receive a complimentary spotter kit with your first cleaning!

SpringHill Suite by Marriott – Director of Sales, Bob Purdy

Our hotel offers a refreshing blend of style and space at an enticing price. You’ll love the location of this Cleveland area hotel, nestled in Solon but just a short ride from downtown Cleveland attractions, MGM Northfield Park and the historic Chagrin falls.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Bob Purdy (BP): It varies right now. In the past it’s been a lot of corporate guests. Now we’re doing a lot of weddings and family reunions. So we’re targeting families, people that are still traveling, and contractors. There’s a lot of work going on in the area in terms of contractors building things like homes, people that are remodeling. So our model has kind of changed a little bit. We’re trying to be creative with businesses, too. If people need to work and want to work out of a hotel, we’re trying to sell that right now as well. Kind of like an office space area. A lot of people don’t want to be cooped up at home. Maybe they want to come to the hotel and have a little bit of a more productive work environment. 

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
BP: Obviously, the occupancy has really taken a hit. Looking at the industry numbers, last month Cleveland was hovering around 30-33% as the average occupancy. And that’s pretty much held true for us, too. But we’re starting to see a gradual increase this month. Our corporate travel is just not there. That’s the biggest impact right now. Our weekends are more popular than our weekdays right now, and it was the other way around before. 

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
BP: The main thing going on right now during the pandemic is that we’re promoting our cleanliness. We have a perfect cleanliness score on our TripAdvisor, and we try to promote that. That’s what guests are saying about us. And we take it pretty seriously in terms of the things that we’re doing here at the hotel.
We have the Plexiglas up at the front desk. In our breakfast area, we kind of create our own little bistro over there. We’re doing breakfast boxes to go. We’re trying to promote a safe environment based on a combination of Marriott, CDC guidelines, and our own management company. Some other action steps we’ve taken are being creative in terms of the market that we’re selling to right now. We’ve done a lot of packages. We’ve seen some success with our packages this year in trying to promote events.

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?
BP: There’s the acceptance piece of all that’s going on with COVID. I thought we’d shut down for a couple weeks and be back open. But honestly, this is our life right now. And it may be for a long time. Accepting that was tough, because I’m thinking, “next week we’ll be coming back,” but months go on and you hear companies are not traveling to the end of next December. It’s a process of accepting it and trying to move forward. We now have a plan in place, and some ideas, and things that we’re going to be doing moving forward. We’re reinventing the hotel and how we do business. 

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
BP: All the people who are taking care of us. The first responders. I watch news stories on TV and see the kind of work environment they have at the hospital. They just keep going. I’d imagine eventually that would be tiring. Sometimes I lose my mind a little bit at work. I’m supposed to keep working, and I can’t even fathom what they’re going through. And sometimes that helps me put things in perspective. They’re inspiring.

Contact: You can reach Bob Purdy by email at nbundschuh@buffalolodging.com, by phone at (440) 248-9600, and on the web at www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/clesh-springhill-suites-cleveland-solon/. If you’re looking for overnight accommodations, a staycation, or a productive work environment, call Springhill Suite by Marriott!

Wellness Wisdom 4 Women – Owner, Christine Spiroch

Wellness Wisdom 4 Women is dedicated to educating and empowering women to discover strengths which are deep within themselves, and to be active participants in their healthcare decisions, wellness, and quality of life.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Christine Spiroch (CS): People who have gone to doctors, had some testing done,and didn’t receive a satisfactory explanation of their condition and symptoms. If you’re seeing some type of a medical provider, whether it’s an M.D., a D.O., a chiropractor, a naturopath, anybody,and you’re not happy with that person but feel like you are stuck with them, I can help.Often, people don’t know that there are other options for their health. I’m here to make people aware that maybe there’s something else that could be done for them.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
CS: I would have to say, socializing and money. So when I say socializing, my interactions with people are down, because people stay home more so than in the past. If a person is out of work and they don’t have enough money or finances then, they may be skeptical of going to a health care provider who’s not on their insurance plan. There’s a fee for service. So I think some people don’t have the means to do that.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
CS: People’s health matters and with a lot of medical offices now focused on telemedicine, they may be dissatisfied with the level of service available. I’ve continued to refer people to alternative health care providers and encourage them to invest in opinions even when outside of their coverage plans or their insurance isn’t accepted. The goal is to help people find relief and quality support, especially in difficult 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?
CS: .I’ve learned to trust myself more, and to use the skills and the knowledge that I have acquired along the way. That’s what has helped me to get more established in what I am doing now.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
CS: Sometimes you come upon a person, and you learn a lot from that person. You never thought you would learn a lot from that person, but just because of who they are, and what knowledge and skills and experience they have to share, it really makes a dent in your life. That’s the important thing that I would say for now. It’s kind of personified in our government with people who have big titles, sometimes what they say or do doesn’t turn out to be very helpful. But sometimes just a small person who has limited contact with a circle of people, but what that person can do to help someone can make a really monumental change.

Contact: You can reach Christine by email at crsphdpac@gmail.com or by phone at (440) 821-4108.

Prolmage Experts, LLC – President, Samir Gautam
ProImage Experts is a US company based out of Cleveland, Ohio offering post-production (editing) services to professional photographers and videographers and cater to a diverse group of professionals in stock, real estate, product, fashion, wedding, sports and portrait (to list a few) photography. Equipped with a state-of-the-art production facility in Mumbai, India, ProImage caters to clients across the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. 

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Samir Gautam (SG): There are three very distinct types of clients that we have. The first is your traditional photographers and studios . Photographers may focus on taking portraits and outsource the editing to us. Second, we have resellers. Resellers are larger entities who have a very distinct style of editing that photographers gravitate toward. So let’s say that Dave (the photographer) has a great name in the photography community and has a very distinct style of editing images. Further, Dave has 10,000 photographers following him on Instagram and Facebook. Dave can monetize that and sell his followers his editing style. So, the individual photographer is working with Dave’s company, but all the back end and the post production is done by ProImage. And the third category is more corporate and businesses. With ecommerce growing in leaps and bounds, even prior to COVID but even more so now, businesses look to us for the post-production and alternate means of visual storytelling work.

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
SG: I would highlight two things. One, the global nature of this pandemic. There’s no place to hide. This event has had a direct impact on our event based business such as weddings and sports. Like so many other businesses, we saw a dramatic drop in volumes. We’ve taken this slowdown to learn and as an opportunity to think of our strategy and thinking about where we want to go next. 

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
SG: For the first challenge, a lack of in-person events, we’ve really focused on what additional benefits can we add to our quiver to become more comprehensive and a one stop shop for our clients. For the second challenge, commuting in Mumbai, what we’ve done as a result is we really have embraced a remote work environment, while genuinely protecting clients data.

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?
SG: No organization is built around one person. The business is a living, breathing entity, and it will outlive all of us. So how do you cultivate the next generation of leaders? Succession planning. I can tell you from both being in private banks and talking to a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners that there’s really very little thought being given to succession planning. As a result, we have built a very strong leadership team and all new hires that we are bringing in, I’m looking at and thinking, what else can they be doing? Can they be coached and groomed into a leader? I think that’s one of the biggest challenges for all small and mid sized companies, we really, really need to start thinking about this question.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
SG: Everything is visual today. We have all witnessed a steady surge in online (e-commerce) business and in order to do this one needs a portfolio of world-class images to showcase their product.  This is an opportunity for us to help many NE Ohio and national businesses. I know how our generation grew, and I see how technology is forcing changes in the marketplace. I think the older generation is now beginning to embrace that and appreciate the importance of quality online presence. So I think there’s that massive opportunity out there to embrace what’s happening and try to benefit from it. I mean I’m talking strictly as a business owner to business owners. What are you doing to capitalize on this movement and this trend?

Contact: You can reach Samir Gautam by email at samir@proimageexperts.com, by phone at (440) 528-3575, and on the web at http://www.proimageexperts.com. Visit ProImage Expert’s website and take advantage of their Free Trials Offer!

Dynamic Design & Systems, Inc. – Owner, Mark Doerr

Dynamic Design & Systems is a group of creative professionals dedicated to providing the solutions to all of your design, printing, promotional and mailing needs. From conventional printing to state-of-the-art digital technology and equipment, we take immense pride in our long and rich history of providing outstanding service to our client partners across the country and around the world.

Mark Phelps (MP): Who is your target customer?
Mark Doerr (MD): Our target audience is industrial and heavy manufacturing. Our ideal accounts are companies that we supply parts to and are able to have repeat orders. 

MP: What has been the greatest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
MD: Once March hit, sales for April and May were significantly lower than they were a year ago.So the financial impact would probably be the number-one thing and that is really causing stress.

MP: What are one or two actions you have taken to make a difference?
MD: One thing is  we have access to masks. So I went ahead and made the investment to get a thermal printer and we’ve been making some masks for some people, which has been kind of fun. The same equipment can do floor graphics, like circles and stuff that you would see in grocery stores and other businesses promoting social distancing. We work with a handful of restaurants as customers, so we’ve been able to do quite a bit of that work for them. 

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?
MD: When you make a mistake, take ownership and be honest and offer a solution. Have a lemon? Make lemonade! Earn your stripes every single day.

MP: What is most inspiring to you today?
MD: What’s inspiring to me is to go out into the real world, whether it’s just going to a store, or driving, or just being around other people, and seeing that, in general, there is a lot of positivity out there and people doing good things for each other. I’m inspired by seeing that there are people out there, with their chin up, getting after it, and being resilient.

Contact: You can reach Mark Doerr by email at mark@dynamicdes.com, by phone at (440) 708-1010, and on the web at http://www.dynamicdrive.com. Place your first order with Dynamic Design & Systems today and get 5 FREE custom face masks featuring your company logo!