Lessons learned in Great Recession guide entrepreneur now

Posted at 10:36 AM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 10:36:51-04

It was about this time one year ago when we went to Twin Cutz, the location near FGCU, to tell Sean Casey's story. How he reinvented his troubled past and grew into a successful entrepreneur.

The way things are now, it seems like a lot longer than just a year ago.

“I didn’t expect a time in my life when everything would stop,” Casey says.

No one saw this stopping. But what's important is what Casey sees now.

We're catching up with him again, as part of our The Rebound Southwest Florida coverage. Fox 4 is committed to giving you the tools to find solutions. It could be in a job search or making ends meet. It could also be in finding hope, by showing you how someone else is getting through this.

Casey's pandemic story is a lot like what other business owners went through. Because his five barbershops have such a connection with the sports world, the seriousness of what's happening hit home when the NBA shut down.

“And within that week, we went from maybe 100% occupancy to 25%, down to 20%," Casey says. "Guys weren’t even coming to work. People were nervous. So since March 20, we’ve had our doors closed.”

They stayed closed for more than seven weeks. His barbers didn't get paid and neither did Casey. But the bills kept coming.

“Of course it’s concerning, of course, it’s scary," he says "It’s ten years of hard work I’ve put in from opening up my first business. And of course, at the end of the day, I have five different landlords at five different locations, looking to get their rent money.”

“I can sit around and be depressed and wait on loans. Or I can say, let me prepare. Look at what we can do. What we can change differently within our own family, within ourselves, within our business.”

Casey went back to his roots. He started Twin Cutz when the Great Recession was taking it's most vicious slice out of Southwest Florida. At a time when storefronts were empty and no one was getting loans, he had to save and put everything he had into the first location.

“It was scary when I opened up and we had overhead and I was like, ‘man, we need to get some business in the store.’ But at the same time I didn’t sit on my chair and wait for people to come to me," Casey says. "I got up and went out and connected with other people to see how can I build relationships so they will take notice of Twin Cutz.”

He spent a lot of time in the last seven weeks thinking about those early days. What's happening now is not the same, but Casey believes his outlook should be.

“My mentality was always like, just jump into the field and who’s going to stop me, but me?”

As Twin Cutz reopens this week, Casey is concentrating on the safety of his workers and his customers. He has some plans on how to run things more efficiently, to save some money. And he's bringing that fire back, that helped him beat the Great Recession.

“I don’t believe anybody can tell me about my passion. If I had to go to work a couple of hours early or stay a couple of hours late, I was going to do whatever I needed to keep those doors open.”

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