2009-12-11 / News

Entrepreneurs find new ways to save their businesses

Photo and story by Julia Rogers Hook

Dan Samuels with his client Clara Moore Dan Samuels with his client Clara Moore Between bailouts and bonuses and healthcare confrontations along with White House party crashers, the American working public has had quite a year. As more and more families are cutting back on what they used to think of as necessities, some are looking at new ways to make some extra money.

Dan Samuels is a personal trainer and coaches arena football. Samuels trains his clients either at their homes or at local gyms. He said he likes to go where the person is most comfortable.

He said that while the recession is causing him to feel the pinch, he has managed to continue his training work.

“When people cut back, they start with the things they don’t absolutely need,” Samuels said. “A personal trainer is a good thing to have but, if it’s between paying a light bill or paying your trainer, the trainer goes.”

Samuels said he’s lucky because he has a good list of clients who have stuck with him through the hard times.

“I think it’s because I work with the entire person,” he said. “It’s not just about losing weight; it’s about your health.You also have to be healthy in mind and spirit to make sure your body stays healthy.”

Samuels said that some clients have cut back on their sessions but luckily he’s had more sign up for fewer workouts a week.

“It all works out,” he said. “You just have to believe that and get through it.”

Bill Frew and his partner Keith Wilson own a business called GarageTek for garage organization, storage, and flooring solutions.

“We clean out your garage and sort your items. What you don’t want, we will either donate to charity in your name or cart away,” he said. “We organize your items using any of the 120–plus cabinet and accessory options we offer, and we can finish your garage with a satin–finish ProTek floor coating.”

Frew said the recent recession has hit his business and caused him to work differently.

He said that people still want cosmetically pleasing and functional garages, but these days they tend to not do the whole thing at once.

“We are doing smaller projects or doing projects in phases over a longer period of time,” Frew said.

The recession has been hard on his employees, but so far, Frew said the company has kept them all.

“Initially we had three full time installers, but we are now down to three part time installers who work on scheduled project days,” he said. The employees have had to look for other work to subsidize their income.

“They have other part time work such as landscaping, tile and wood floor installation, and part time marketing/web site development.”

In addition to doing projects in phases, the company added a Bio–Aspartic floor coating for commercial use. “It is effective against MRSA, Ecoli, Salmonella, and other bacteria, mold, and fungi,” Frew said.

Because the new flooring isn’t just a cosmetic change, Frew said that has helped his business.

Gary Martin had GarageTek redo his garage last spring, and he said it one of the best things he ever did.

“They came when they said they said they would be there; they were professional and they were fast. They had the whole thing done in two days. They hauled off our junk; they took the rest to Goodwill, and brought us a receipt. When they left, there wasn’t a speck of dirt in the whole garage. Now I can find my tools, and my wife has the extra storage she’s always wanted.”

Danielle Thomas, a hair stylist who co–owns Palmetto Styles Salon in Lexington said she really hasn’t noticed a decrease in her business.

“My partner and I have been very lucky with all the financial crisis going on,” Thomas said. “While people will cut back on certain things, you don’t find many women who will cut back on looking good.”

Thomas did say the one thing she noticed was that women were waiting longer between cuts and colorings.

“Women used to come in once a month or every six weeks for a color touch up and a trim, but these days you see them less often. But they still come.”

Lynne Rogers, a client of Thomas’, said she followed her from downtown all the way to Lexington.

“When I first moved to Columbia, Danielle was working on Hampton Street, and that was great. Then I moved to Northeast Columbia, and she moved to Lexington. It’s a drive, but I wouldn’t go anywhere else. She knows my hair and that’s important. And your hairdresser becomes a friend so the entire experience of going to her shop and leaving feeling pretty after a visit with a friend is a real morale booster. How do you put a price on that?”

While people are turning to alternate ways of making money and spending it more cautiously, a positive outlook is one of the most important things, according to personal trainer, Samuels.

“It’s the hard times when people have to believe in the best of each other,” he said. “It’s easy to be happy when every thing is going well. People have to see the good things out of this recession. The way businesses have to cut peoples’ hours is bad, but they are doing it so the person can keep a job. You just have to look at the glass and know it’s half full. It’s the only way to live.”

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