Photo: Derek and Gloria Chatman
Written by Tanya Terry
Derek Chatman, age 63 and Gloria Chatman, age 61, both of Genesee County, have been married 35 years. Before the pandemic, they were traveling at least once a month. They would travel around the county and be gone for four to five days at a time. Each of them also own local businesses.
Gloria Chatman is the owner of Gloria’s Little Angels Childcare, Inc, providing day care service to children from age 2 weeks to 12 years old. The business was started in 2002. Derek Chatman owns Chatman’s Painting, Inc; a painting and drywall company. The business has been around since 1986. Although the number of employees at Derek Chatman’s small company has not changed due to the pandemic and business actually picked up as the weather was warming, Gloria Chatman has lost almost half her staff and reports business being slower.
“At the moment I have six employees, but before COVID I had 13,” Gloria Chatman said. “Some of the employees just didn’t want to come back because of that. I’ve lost about $15,000 a month.”
At the daycare, she said she had an average of 30-40 children a day pre-COVID and now has about 20.
“The children will wear a mask, and the staff wears masks,” Gloria Chatman said. “We sometimes have to keep reminding the kids to keep their masks on. Then, they’ll keep it on. We’ve had no cases of COVID there. We have staff that takes temperatures of everyone there every morning. The kids have adapted to that.”
Half the children (“the latch key kids”) at the childcare center go online for virtual learning at the center.
Gloria Chatman’s oldest daughter, Venita Hiler, runs the daycare as the main director, and Gloria Chatman often helps her husband with the painting business.
Derek Chatman said at his business, they have adapted to the pandemic by incorporating the use of respirators when they go around people in their homes during their work hours. This is intended to keep both the homeowners and the workers safe.
The couple has been spending quality time with each other, such as when watching movies on TV. Derek Chatman said he has been reading more books to make the most of the situation and lots of communication with his wife helps keep them “on the same page.” Gloria Chatman said it is also important to have fun. They feel what has worked for them can help other couples and business owners, and they want to help others.
“We’ve been blessed so far, even though the COVID came into our lives,” Gloria Chatman said. “We have to adapt and make changes. For the future, I pray that everything gets back to being normal again and that we can have more children at the daycare, as well as to get back staff and new people (as staff). I hope to be back functioning properly by the end of next year.”
“I’m thankful that the business is up and running and still thriving at this time,” Derek Chatman said. “I’m looking to hire more employees because the business is growing. I hope this COVID finds itself phasing out of our lives. I am hopeful for a vaccine, and my outlook for the future is great!”
To contact Derek Chatman about a job opportunity, call 810-234-5022, or email chatmanpainting firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Gloria Chatman for a job opportunity or childcare, call 810-424-9649 and ask for Venita Hiler.