J&J’s Creative Colors, an affiliate of Creative Colors International Inc., weathered the pandemic by securing a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide job security to its loyal employees.
The outbreak of COVID-19 this spring put the brakes on J&J’s Creative Colors’ on-site mobile leather and vinyl repair business. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines forced the Mokena, Illinois-based company to discontinue operations and furlough its employees. Furloughing technicians enabled the commission-based workers to collect unemployment benefits to pay their bills while the company worked diligently to secure funds to keep their workers on the books. The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. As part of the program, the SBA will forgive loans if companies meet employee retention criteria.
“Our employees were very happy and thankful to get their jobs back. They appreciated having that security in knowing they would get a steady paycheck, especially with so much uncertainty at that time,” said Terri Sneigolski, Senior Vice President of J&J’s Creative Colors. “Our service technicians are energetic and self-motivated. Being unable to work was difficult for them, and we knew we needed to take steps to allow them to service our customers.”
J&J’s Creative Colors has 18 full-time employees. The company furloughed 16 technicians. They retained one office worker who worked from home, and one technician, because they were still receiving phone calls from individuals and emergency jobs. J&J’s received PPP funds from the government around the same time that Illinois allowed businesses to reopen, which helped technicians get back to work.
“We brought our employees back based on their average earnings, making sure not to reduce their pay. We felt that they should be entitled to their full average pay, again to help the economy and keep them working and in touch with their customers,” said Kelli Bollman, Vice President of J&J’s Creative Colors.
Jenny Borst, a J&J’s service technician in the Chicago area, took advantage of the furlough and staved off worry by working on home projects. “When I got news of the furlough, I was in crisis mode. For the first time in my life I applied for unemployment at the age of 52. Once we were able to go back to work, I had to come to terms with putting myself out there during a pandemic. I wear a mask to protect others, but no one else is wearing a mask to protect me. That has been hard, but I love working with my hands, being outdoors and being in charge of my destiny.”
Is Now the Right Time to Tackle a New Career?
Job furloughs and extra time quarantining prompted many Americans to reevaluate their careers. Making any type of employment change is challenging, even during a boom economy. It is important to research how a company treats its employees when times are tough. It’s also a great time to see how the company you are considering copes with business challenges.
To help boost sluggish sales, CCI added a new Sanitizer & Disinfectant, approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, to allow customers to disinfect against COVID-19. The hospital-grade sanitizer is designed to kill viruses, bacteria, mold and mildew. It can safely disinfect without drying or fading any of your surfaces, including your leather and vinyl seats. J&J’s used the new sanitizer to clean the patrol cars for the Frankfort, Illinois, police department along with treating all vehicles for free. The company is also using the sanitizer to clean cars at the auto dealerships they service.
In addition to rehiring furloughed employees, J&J’s Creative Colors used PPP funds to give its loyal customers a 25 percent discount. They also treated all the vehicles at the auto dealerships they service with sanitizer free of charge. The discount allowed technicians to provide services to customers and boost the company’s bottom line. “We decided that if we received PPP funds, we would pay it forward and pass a discount on to all of our existing customers to help keep the economy flowing,” Bollman said.
CCI’s certified service technicians receive a high commission structure with unlimited earnings potential. Many locations offer a full benefits package, including a 401k. CCI employees are able to create their own work schedules, which will benefit employees as they navigate complicated school schedules with their families this year. CCI’s technicians are trained to repair, restore or replace damaged vinyl, leather, fabric or plastic goods for customers in their office, home or vehicle.
If you want to make a career change and learn new skills with an employer who values its workers, fill out a job application online to learn more about CCI.