Businesses Speak Out - Cedar Valley Networking Group


Cedar Valley Networking Vol. II 2020

A collection of short interviews and education from some of the Cedar Valley Networking members and their amazing insights into today's challenges for small businesses.

ActionCOACH, Heather Marquez (HM) virtually sits down local businesses to learn how they are working through COVID-19.  Check out their inspiring stories for tips on how to cope with and successfully recover from this pandemic. Most importantly, visit the company websites.  Reach out to those who offer services you can use.  Let’s support each other and get through this together!

InXpress Cedar Falls, Owner Matt Skarin

As your local shipping specialist InXpress is focused on finding businesses the right shipping solutions at tailored rates. We focus on knowing your requirements and saving you time, hassle and money.

The carriers you know and trust do the collections and deliveries, but we are always your local point of contact for all of your shipments and we consolidate your invoicing.

HM:  Who is your customer target audience, the ideal customer you are reaching out to?

MS:  I have a fairly diverse customer portfolio.  I have a number of businesses that are in the Cedar Valley area, and a number of them that are in the larger market, and as a franchise, we’re not limited to any territory.  I have a number of customers that are throughout the United States from Texas to California to Florida.  But really it could be anyone from a solopreneur who just went into business for themselves and is trying to wear lots of hats.  I’m able to step in and help them out.  They don’t pay for my services with the exception of paying a small percentage of margin on each shipment.  We’re really able to add another member of their team by being their logistics professionals.  We’ve had a lot of success with the small solopreneur or one, two, or three person businesses.  But we also have such competitive rates, we can step into a medium sized company that might have 50 to 100 employees.  

HM:  What would you say was the greatest impact that COVID-19 has had on your business?

MS:  Definitely have felt the impact.  The biggest hurdle for me was businesses actually had to shut down due to stay in place orders.  Some of them were required by law or by state mandates, and others were more voluntarily.  Some actually closed for up to seven weeks, there was no one there.  That had a huge impact in the number of shipments that I was doing for them.  Thankfully, with a fairly diverse customer portfolio, there were still businesses that were open or were open and working remotely.  A number of the carriers were able to adjust their policies where they might have had to deal with inside pickups or deliveries, they were no longer doing that, but they were still getting shipments out the door. 

HM:  What one or two actions have you taken to make a difference in your business?

MS:  I made sure to monitor and watch what the government was doing.  So I was able to apply for the economic impact disaster loan.  I did get the initial advance for that and am waiting for the final loan amount to be issued to me – somewhat of a process.  That has been a benefit, knowing that I will have additional capital coming in at a very attractive interest rate so that I can continue to keep my business running.  So that was one of the things that I had to do.  Outside of that, it’s really just making sure that I stay in touch and in contact with my customers and potential customers, letting them know that even though they might be shut down or working from a remote location, InXpress and InXpress Cedar Falls was still open for business and able to help out. As I work from home, it was a fairly easy transition for me to be able to step up and be able to keep the supply chain moving, even though other customers or individuals might not have had that luxury. 

HM:  What mistakes did you make along the way in your career and how can other people in business learn from your experience?

MS:  One comes to mind, as a new business owner and a new small business owner, you go into it thinking that every customer is a good customer.  And I found that’s not necessarily the case.  Doing a proper credit check and evaluation of the worthiness or credit worthiness of your customers ability to pay is definitely a lesson that I have learned the hard way.  With doing business with a number of companies that booked a number of shipments and then weren’t able to pay me back.  That was definitely a lesson learned the hard way.  As I was getting into the business, you know, the existing franchisees warn you that not every customer is a great customer.  But starting out, you’re so focused on getting as many customers as possible - that was kind of in hindsight. 

HM:  What is most inspiring to you today and what is keeping you positive going through this?

MS:  I think the most inspiring thing for me is the people on the front lines who have had to really step up and put in very long, extra hours and really make sure that the world keeps moving.  And so for me, when I see that, it really kind of puts everything in perspective and makes my condition seem a little less important.  I’m not sure the proper term, but if they’re out there putting themselves potentially in harm’s way to take care of other people, tells me that I should be doing everything I can to help out as well.  I use that kind of inspiration to try to reach out to as many businesses as possible to help them in the way that I’m able to…and that’s to help them with their shipments.



Lighthouse Travel, Owner Brady Gruhn

Lighthouse Travel originated in 1985 as a cruise-only travel agency. We warmly refer to this as the “Love Boat” phase in our history. In 1997 we began promoting and selling the full range of travel products, becoming a true full-service agency. For the past quarter century we have not only witnessed, but helped guide the continued growth and evolution of the travel industry. We have worked diligently to improve our systems and to increase our product knowledge to meet the travel needs, interests and sophistication of our clients. Today we specialize in everything from all-inclusive travel to the Caribbean and Mexico, to destination weddings and honeymoons, to true bucket list vacations to all four corners of the world. We spend hundreds of hours a year continuing our education and personally visiting the destinations we sell. Throughout the years we have stayed at or visited every Sandals / Beaches property, and in 2012 visited over 40 unique resorts and destinations throughout the world!

We truly “Go So You Know”.

HM:  Who is your customer target audience, the ideal customer you are reaching out to?

BG:  I would say my core customer would be anybody that’s looking for an experience.  That could be a couple that is looking to take an anniversary trip.  It could be people that want to get married on a beach.  It could be the retired couple that has kind of put off their own personal plans until they had more time.  Where they can start to focus on themselves, chipping away at that bucket list that they’ve been putting together and complaining for the last 20 years.  I would say anybody that’s looking for the type of experience where they want to spend time with family, friends, or just enjoy themselves, enjoy life. 

HM:  What would you say was the greatest impact that COVID-19 has had on your business?

BG:  This has directly impacted our industry simply because of the restrictions on people being able to move as freely as we once were.  So everything from airlines cancelling flights, countries closing borders, and just the overall fear factor.  When people don’t feel secure or there’s an uncertainty, or there’s questions in your mind about am I going to be able to accomplish this or do this without contracting an illness, or when I get a quarantine rule.  So that type of destabilization of the world in that security has really affected us. It brought everything to a complete standstill for the last few months.  

HM:  What one or two actions have you taken to make a difference in your business?

BG:  Probably the biggest thing, and this is what I’ve been taking care of the last three months now, is helping clients who had trips booked with us, helping them rearrange those personal vows into the future, a future time where we feel like things are going to start to be, and I use this term loosely, “normal”.  So I’m working with my clients to get their current trips rebooked, or working with new clients to help work them through when that time comes, when they can have that feeling of security and knowing that the trip can take place.  And also take place the way that they want it to, not under some stringent guidelines or restrictions that may impact their ability to enjoy themselves.

HM:  What mistakes did you make along the way in your career and how can other people in business learn from your experience?

BG:  I think probably one of the first and biggest mistakes that I probably made when I first got into the business is it’s such a fast business.  I mean, travel, you just say travel and it means something different to everybody.  So probably my primary mistake initially was trying to be everybody – kind of the jack of all trades, right?  What’s the next part of that saying…jack of all trades, master of none.  So I probably was spreading myself too thin, that I wasn’t able to really hone in on being the expert and the specialist that I needed to be to fit a core business.  I think sometimes people try to be an expert in everything.  And what you tend to do is pause or give people advice that you can’t stand behind.  So what I like to do is offer people things that I can be secure in.  There’s no shame in telling somebody that’s not what you’re good at or give people advice that you can’t stand behind. 

HM:  What is most inspiring to you today and what is keeping you positive going through this?

BG:  I think what has fueled me or kept me driving in this industry, and even in some of my previous industry work, is the ability to help people dream and make those dreams come to fruition.  So that’s what motivates me.  That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and willing to sit behind a computer to talk to people on the phone.  It’s knowing that you’re helping people get the most out of their lives, you’re maximizing their time and their experiences. That’s what I love about travel, I love putting together someone’s ideas and making them happen.  And then when they come back and they tell me what a great time they had, and unplugged from the stresses that they normally feel.  Take advantage of that time!


Phone: (563) 242-2470 ext. 102

Direct Phone: (319) 427-2060


Ann Barry, Shaklee Associate and Piano instructor 

I absolutely love helping people!

I also believe in the power of women who are the heart of the home, who nurture the health of their husbands and children, who honor their parents and their extended family. For through the spirit of love, I care to teach others about a balanced life of body, mind, and spirit.

My journey started out by reading about wholesome foods, natural food supplements. I’m starting this site because I feel it is so important for people to live healthy lives. The way we feel impacts our family lives, our spiritual lives and how we impact everyone around us. With just a few changes in our daily health habits we can radically change our outlook on life. I have helped so many people get on the path to healthy living and I’d like to help you.

HM:  Who is your customer target audience, the ideal customer you are reaching out to?

AB:  (Shaklee)  I’m looking for people who walk and breathe!  Seriously, anyone that’s interested in improving their health and their feeling about making a difference in this life.  And that, believe it or not, there are a few people that walk this earth that really have that combination. 

AB:  (Piano)  I’m here for their kids, or for them as adults, that they put forth an effort, that is just incredible.  And I can’t tell who that person is until I’ve been with them a while. 

HM:  What would you say was the greatest impact that COVID-19 has had on your business?

AB:  (Shaklee) I think the creation path for Shaklee has been returning to value, just getting value in their life, the value in what they use in their home, and also just how they’re spending their time.  That’s one, and then I think the second thing is that they want to keep some of the simplicity that they’ve learned from conflict.  And they’re looking around and that’s what I’m finding that people are doing.  They are either finally checking out the new or returning to what I’ve got coming out of the woodwork.  It’s great.

AB: (Piano)  I honestly thought that there would be people that once I said we were going to do Zoom, maybe that they would quit and they are not.  And I was surprised about that.  Because it’s something that I thought would really require personal lessons and I attempted a couple times to move on, they don’t want to go.  Because of transitioning to the Zoom lessons, I found myself having no time to do anything but music because it was so consuming.  That’s why I was welcoming families to find other teachers because it was something I needed to get a balance back to my life.  So now I don’t have any problem with people that want to continue Zoom or would like to come back to in person lessons.  I think I have the solution, that we could do some of each, but just some.  So I’ve been able to keep teaching, working with different personalities, it’s been unexpected, but at the same time negotiating and demanding of me a whole lot more than I thought I had ever had before. 

HM:  What one or two actions have you taken to make a difference in your business?

AB:  (Shaklee) I think it’s something that can transition to other businesses out there.  The thing that I’ve come to is I’m so grateful that I have two streams of income.  And I really believe every household should.  And it’s something that I learned when I studied Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  I learned from a number of people that you need to have teams of things.  So with those two concepts, two streams of income, a home based business, and you ask any one that writes financial books out there, they say that same thing was true.  I just really like to get that concept out there and put in things about how you can save for taxes and the whole thing.  So I’m finding myself committed to getting the word out to people because I think that this can happen again and again and again.

AB:  (Piano) I had the privacy matter of getting people to come in at the right time if I was recording. If a person shows up on that recording, it bothers me with privacy matters.  The only way you can do that is that everyone go out and roam and come back in.  So I thought I get last minutes, and that was tough when you’re already shortening the lesson by a little bit getting on and off.  That was one of the greatest challenges, than get people to actually watch the recordings.  They don’t have time to read my emails, or watch the recordings, or to support the kids the way they should be supported.  It’s more of a challenge.  If I see them in person, they will tend to do what I asked them tom but they’re so far removed from what I’m asking, that I can’t seem to get their attention enough to. 

HM:  What mistakes did you make along the way in your career and how can other people in business learn from your experience?

AB:  (Shaklee)  First of all, what I feel like I did was to transition to Zoom seamlessly.  That was thanks to Shaklee, that I had Zoom set up and I knew what to do.  So that’s learning from that.  The good thing is that people need to be one step ahead, and maybe a couple steps ahead, with a couple of things in their back pocket so that when some surprise comes along, you can move into it seamlessly, so I was able to do that.  And I was able to keep track of the flow without having to pay a lot of attention to it, thank goodness.

AB:  (Music)  I think I wasn’t realizing how much time the music was taking.  I was so devoted, and so focused on getting through.  I decided to just put forth all the effort, whatever it took, get everyone across the finish line, that I almost ruined my health.  Therefore, taking a week off after that realization and having a couple of people ask why I could do that, made me realize that people don’t understand how much a person puts into things.  So I realized that I need to work less hard to get evened up with what people’s expectations.  That’s crazy, I know, but just back off a little bit and just get that time back.  People are going to be completely happy with it because they don’t even know how much time I was putting into it.  So that’s a mistake I made.

HM:  What is most inspiring to you today and what is keeping you positive going through this?

AB:  When I took my week off, I basically had to question myself from everything from how am I going to re-enter people around me not wearing masks.  How do I feel about that?  I took time to be with me and to understand who I am.  And I really look forward to the fact that I’m scheduled with you for GrowthCLUB because I need to make a plan.  I think everyone needs that.  I’m not just saying that because you’re interviewing me.  I think everyone needs to have a coach that understands that you have to have a plan.  And so, I think the best thing that a person does is to really know why they’re doing what they’re doing.  To make a plan and it’s really tough sticking to that.  In kovat, you’re being pulled in every direction.  Everyone seems to know something better than you now, and I’m really solid in where Contact Information:




Stan Jagodzinski, Young Living Essential Oils Representative

Our Vision:  A healthy home for each of us, a healthy world for all of us.

Our Mission:  We enhance and empower lives around the world by sharing the unique benefits of nature’s living energy–essential oils.

Our Purpose:  To empower the world with nature’s living energy

“Health is Wealth – Invest Wisely!”

HM:  Who is your customer target audience, the ideal customer you are reaching out to?

SJ:  Those who are seriously interested, those interested in improving health, wanting to know and understand how they can get the best out of their body, living, energy and well being. I have a focus, a vision out there.  Just like you’re looking at it from a business standpoint:  What is your vision?  What is your goal?  I think a lot of the thing, when you’re younger, you can tolerate more.  So hence, you can wear your system down, but not know that you need some kind of support from us.  Those people that are more forward looking and want to take care of themselves and be ahead of the game when they get to be in their senior years.  And those that are simply hurting and want to resolve that issue.

HM:  What would you say was the greatest impact that COVID-19 has had on your business?

SJ:  I think that people are concerned initially, when it comes to COVID-19, the big thing is they need to improve their immune system, and that this a good product.  Defusing oils in the house to make sure that the viruses and the germs are less vulnerable for you.    I’ve been trying to provide to people information that surrounds that aspect, improving your immune system as opposed to lipstick and nail polish. 

HM:  What one or two actions have you taken to make a difference in your business?

SJ:  There’s two opportunities – to be able to send out postcards the company offers each month depending upon what you order.  So generates a postcard with information about each one of the oils or products that’s being offered.  And we’ll use that mailing system.  And then there’s another individual, that those are basically focused on the oils, other than other other individual that focuses on products.  At this point in time, products that help build immune system such as vitamins. 

HM:  What mistakes did you make along the way in your career and how can other people in business learn from your experience?

SJ:  Early on, not jumping into it full speed ahead.  Just recognizing the value that was there and not really getting out and marketing and building a strong, strong business.  Starting sooner I would have been in a greater position than I am right now.  Another one was when I went to a convention, I met with a few people and I was checking their business model to see what they do, how they do what they do, why did they get into the business.  They ended up doing exactly what we were doing, going to conventions and small fairs, small little get togethers, church, socials, things of this nature.  Get yourself in front of people and just get where you can sit and talk to them.  Sometimes you’re on a course, it’s not all bad.  Change, change to change. 

HM:  What is most inspiring to you today and what is keeping you positive going through this?

SJ:  The health side of my business, there’s been a lot of convoluted information out there. Basically what has happened with my family and my experiences, and I can see the difference that it has made in my own life.  Seeing those that have been concerned about their health.  That aspect has been so important.  And just to keep people educated to help them to move forward.



David A. Beaty, Heartland Financial, Investment Advisor Representative

Our primary Mission at Heartland Financial Services LTD is ‘Protecting your Financial Security from the Dual Threats of outliving your income and the increasing costs of health care, including nursing care’.


We ask the right questions to get you the right answers.

HM:  Who is your customer target audience, the ideal customer you are reaching out to?

DB:  We focus primarily on retirement income types of situation for folks who are going from working to retirement, and how to position things so that they can afford to retire and have confidence in knowing they’re going to have income for the rest of their lives.

HM:  What would you say was the greatest impact that COVID-19 has had on your business?

DB:  Sounds really strange, but it allowed us to do things we haven’t been able to do in a long time.  And that’s the result of the fact that interest rates have gone way down which offers an opportunity for folks to take advantage of that, it actually resulted in them being able to do some things that they were not able to do before.  And take advantage of the fact that they can get an 8 to 10, maybe even more, growth in their account balances as a result of things.  Thus, their future income as a result of the interest rate changes.

HM:  What one or two actions have you taken to make a difference in your business?

DB:  We first focused on our existing clients to take advantage of the situation, and now we’re getting to the point where we can offer that to the public, across the board.  So in order for us to be in a position to help, someone has to be an independent advisor for that to work. 

Our success in the business is simply a matter of saying, how do we let someone know we can be of some assistance to them?  The only people that make a successful decision are the ones that have the information necessary to make that decision.  So the more we spend time focusing on what it is that we can do for someone, the more likely that person is going to make a good decision and be able to move forward with whatever it is that they need to do. 

HM:  What mistakes did you make along the way in your career and how can other people in business learn from your experience?

DB:  I guess there was a guy one time that told me that I was working too hard to make a lot of money.  And what that translated into is focusing on the things that make a difference for people and making sure that you spend the time and energy that is needed to help people.  What I’m focused on at this point in my career is saying, how can I do something to put in the best interest of my clients and for the public.  It really comes down to that. 

HM:  What is most inspiring to you today and what is keeping you positive going through this? 

DB: Knowing just what we can do for people if they just allow us the opportunity to show them what is possible. 


(319) 277-1059

During the Covid-19 Crisis, I am putting aside 5 pro-bono hours a week to coach 5 business owners who need help to survive, re-open and thrive.

Call me:  563-260-1530

Email me:

Please be safe, cautious and follow all guidelines. Remember to support your local business and be kind to one another.

Future Events

During this complimentary two hour workshop you will learn 6 ways to grow and develop your business.

This is our 7th annual Live2Lead Cedar Valley leadership development event. For the first time ever Live2Lead will be a virtual event.

Catch our last quarterly GrowthCLUB in 2020. During this ALL DAY workshop you will plan your success for 1st quarter 2021.

Click to find out more