Mike Kelly

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When asked if he always knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur Mike Kelly, owner of Garden State Strength and Fitness, says, “I always knew I wanted to do this. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now. My first real full-time job was in a gym just like this in Short Hills. I lasted there two years, and then I knew that I had to work for myself. Since then, I haven’t worked for anyone else.” Initially, he opened a studio with a business partner and ran that for 13 years before making the move to open Garden State Strength and Fitness in Springfield, New Jersey, on his own.

Like so many business owners, things were going well for Mike until the pandemic hit. He had to close shop, and when he reopened, everything was completely different. Before COVID-19, the objective was to fill the space with as many clients and trainers as possible. Mike was shut down for nearly five months, which forced him to reevaluate how to manage the business with new restrictions. Since reopening, Mike and his trainers only allow for one client at a time. Mike is also reconsidering how to redefine the space to accommodate more people in the safest possible way.

Mike first came to UCEDC in search of a Microloan to make improvements to the 3,800 square foot commercial building he owns. One section of the building remained unfinished, and he planned to make it usable space. After receiving the loan to complete the building improvements, Mike also received a Crisis Relief Loan from UCEDC to help with working capital needs. He is currently working with our lending team to refinance his commercial property.

Mike has had such a good experience working with the team at UCEDC that he has referred other clients to our services as well. According to Mike, he refers people to UCEDC because small business owners often don’t know about us and the resources available to them. He says, “the help I've received has been tremendous. Everyone has been so nice and helpful. Anytime I’ve had a question, everyone gets back to me right away.”