Meet a few people who have greeted challenging circumstances as opportunities for a new kind of success.
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Sure, we know the economy is bad and unemployment is on the rise. But there are people who see tough conditions as impetus for positive change. “Some people embrace it,” says Barry Schlecker, owner of The Network Group, a Wilmington-based job referral agency. “I tell my clients when they get laid off to look at it as an opportunity to carve out what they want to do and go look for it.” Says Bill Pfaff, director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of Delaware in Georgetown, “The current state of the economy is breeding the new entrepreneur.” Meet a few folks who’ve met challenging times without flinching.
Late in the morning at Foulkstone Plaza in North Wilmington, Eric Zoeckler sits in the middle row of Victoria Bowering’s Massage Therapy Class at the Harris School of Business, learning about the posterior deltoid, the splenius cervicis and other components of our anatomy.
Zoeckler flips through a physiology textbook as Bowering lectures before a plastic skeleton. Zoeckler is in the second semester of a seven-semester course needed for certification in therapeutic massage, which requires 600 hours of instruction, national board testing and a local licensing exam.
Only a few months ago, taking a class and learning a new career was unthinkable. For years, Zoeckler was an information technology consultant who worked with clients in the pharmaceutical and banking industries. He was paid well for it. In the early part of the decade, Zoeckler was earning a salary well into six figures. He owned a lovely home in the Cool Springs neighborhood of Wilmington. He drove a Mercedes.
Over the next three years, he watched IT jobs migrate to foreign countries. He saw the IT industry become less of a profession and more of a service, a quick hotline call rather than a continuing business relationship. He saw hourly rates for consultants dwindle. Zoeckler took a 15 percent pay cut to join a Wilmington bank. Soon after, it was announced that all consultants would receive another 15 percent salary decrease. His last consulting job was with a major bank in New Castle County, which said it would not renew his contract once it expired. Zoeckler, then 41, was downsized out in January.
Page 2: Fresh Starts, continues...