Jarrod Burgess: A. Burgess Locksmith

Jarrod Burgess: A. Burgess Locksmith

“We run a mobile-only business [and] have two service business vans. We are about as small as a small business gets.

“My wife’s grandfather was a locksmith for as long as anyone can remember and showed me the ropes. He got me started in it and after a year of hanging out with him, I went out on my own [and started] A. Burgess Locksmith.

“I’m originally from San Diego and moved to O’Fallon in 2006. My first couple of years in the business was trying to build it. At the beginning, I didn’t have a lot of customers or online presence. It was just me for the first 11 years.  I hired my partner, Mike, two years ago. I decided I finally had to hire somebody.

“For April, we’re down about 65% to 70% in total revenues. We’re definitely seeing an impact. We are currently running emergency calls. We’re down to one van because there’s just not enough work for both of us.

“We have a no-contact policy to try to get our customers to use a credit card if possible and don’t come around us so we can handle the payment from a distance. We try to sanitize the van and tools every day.

“Locksmithing tends to be one of those recession-proof businesses. Unfortunately, when others come across financial pain, we do better, but that all changes when all customers are forced to close.

“I went to my bank [to get a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program] and they were closed. I called the phone number for corporate and I sat on the phone for an hour and was told everything had to be done online.

“So I went online and there were two questions: ‘I attest I have a small business account with Bank of America or loan or credit card with Bank of America’ and ‘I attest I have a small business checking account with Bank of America and don’t have any other bank accounts with my small business.’ They said ‘No, you can’t apply here because you have a relationship with American Express.’ [Bank of America is my bank so] it seems logical I get my loan through them.

“All the other banks were saying the same thing: you need to have a business checking account. I eventually got it through a bank in Marion. I got approval through the Small Business Administration, but I don’t know how much I got yet. They said closing would be happening in the next few days. [The Small Business Administration] announced they don’t have any more money so I don’t know if my application got in before or after that.

“It’s important to me I keep my employee employed because he has financial obligations, too. You can’t just put off your bills.

“The recovery is going to be hard. … We’re not scraping coins right now, but most of the people in the service industry aren’t going to feel the effects for months. We’re still having payments from months ago coming in.

“I’ve always kept about 30 to 45 days of supplies in the home. At this point I’m glad I did that. … It never crossed my mind I’d have to use some of my supplies for a virus in my own home. My wife and child haven’t left the home in 30 days, I think.

“When you’re in the store you look around and it looks full but the items people are buying now are used to make their own food. It’s obvious the general public is worried this is going to last a long time if they’re worried about making their own bread.

“Moving forward, the whole idea of taxing people more should go to the wayside. They should probably consider some kind of tax deferment or reduction soon to help small businesses. Reopening the small business industry would probably help a lot.  The long-term effect of keeping it closed could be a lot worse than what we’re seeing now.

“I know a couple people who have decided to close for good; if they reopen, they say they’re leaving Illinois.

“If I had to start over it wouldn’t be in Illinois. I’ve lived in my house since 2007 and I’ve lost property value. And our property taxes keep going up.

“What I think people sometimes forget is when small business owners show a lot of income it doesn’t mean their income is expendable. When they get taxed on that, it might not be a real reflection on their income. You could be hurting a lot of small business owners [with a progressive tax] who might just let go of employees. Their employers are going to be hit and it trickles down.

“There is never a point of no return if you hustle, however. If you want something to happen, you’re going make it happen.”

Jarrod Burgess
Owner, A. Burgess Locksmith
O’Fallon, Illinois

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