Justin's Interview

(WKBN) – At a time when tens of thousands of businesses around the country are being forced to close for good because of the financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many more stories of owners finding ways to overcome the struggles while waiting for the economy to rebound.

The first weeks of the pandemic and its resulting economic shutdown were chaotic, to say the least.

“There was definitely a period of panic and upsetness and things like that, but we tried to keep everybody calm,” said Meg Bianco, of Winner Aviation.

Besides initiating new safety protocols, executives with Winner Aviation were able to keep their 160 member workforce intact using federal payroll protection loans and aviation grants.

“We sat down immediately and looked at what we can apply for, how quickly can we get the money, can we bridge until we do get the money,” Bianco said.

“It’s changed everything, it really has, and we’ve had to really adapt to how people are feeling,” said Laura Zavadil, co-owner of Mega Barre Youngstown.

Zavadil said she and her instructors started teaching classes online and on-demand soon after the shutdown began. But even now that her studio is open again, classes are only half as large as they were pre-COVID.

“So we didn’t have the option to just sit back and see what happens, that wasn’t in my wheelhouse and that’s not how I work,” Zavadil said.

Owners with TEMA Roofing managed to keep their 60 employees working the last several months, focusing on projects like one at Mahoning Valley High School in Youngstown while the building itself was closed.

“With a lot of business not having employees in the facility, it gave us an opportunity to do more difficult jobs without cars being in the parking lot,” said Justin Froelich, with TEMA Roofing.

As schools resume and the economy rebounds, business owners hope the worst is behind them.