Earl Faulkner, Sr. has been a barber all of his adult life. He got his start in 1964. In 1983, Faulkner opened his first Cost Cutter franchise in Minnesota. He opened his first Wisconsin franchise in Menominee in 1984. He now owns nearly 20 Cost Cutters and The Barbers franchises throughout northern and central Wisconsin.
“You always want to do more, and when you’re excited about something, you’re always looking for more,” said Faulkner. “I found a fabulous labor pool in Wisconsin where the people were so special and hardworking.”
Faulkner’s businesses continued to grow and prosper. As Faulkner tells it, the hair business is somewhat recession proof. “Everybody needs hair services, and everybody wants to look and feel good. It wasn’t until the COVID-19 shutdown hit that we developed problems.”
On March 19, 2020, Faulkner’s hair stylists closed up their shops with the government mandated shutdown. His employees were suddenly unemployed, and Faulkner had fixed expenses that had to be paid. With the news of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Faulkner had hope that he could keep his businesses in operation and help his employees.
“Peoples stepped up. I worked with Dale Sankey at Peoples to get the loan application in for the PPP. They helped us through the process.”
Faulkner used the PPP funding on payroll, rent, and supplies. And when the shutdown lifted, he was able to open his salons again, with the 160 employees he knew and trusted. “We have to take extra precautions due to COVID-19, so our productivity is down compared to a year ago. And some people are still quite fearful of going out, so instead of a four- to six-week haircut cycle, some people have extended that out to twice the time, which cuts your revenue directly in half.”
“Without Peoples, I wouldn’t be here today. When we needed somebody, there was Peoples. They gave us leadership. They gave us the advice we needed. I feel a huge debt of gratitude for that. Had Peoples not been there to help with the PPP loan, we would not have made it to the re-opening or survived in the months immediately after.”
“Nothing that I’ve ever lived through or learned or had experience with prepared me for this. We’ll have some kind of a normal, but it’s going to be a completely new normal.”
The PPP loans Peoples’ commercial team processed helped small- and mid-size businesses, such as Faulkner’s, keep nearly 12,000 employees on the payroll at those companies.