Starting a business isn’t everyone’s idea of retirement, but long-haul truck driver Charlie Barehead, of Jay, Oklahoma, is looking past his 35-year career to a new opportunity.

His son, Derek Barehead, returned home in 2016 after serving in the U.S. Army, in the Army Reserves and as a private security contractor. Injured while working overseas, Derek Barehead spoke with his parents about his options. A previous job in screen printing set a business plan into motion.

As Cherokee Nation citizens, the father and son qualified for a U.S. Treasury-sourced loan from the Cherokee Nation Small Business Center, with better terms and rates than a traditional bank loan offered. With guidance and support from the small business center’s staff, they began navigating the complicated application process.

The center’s staff facilitated the loan application, processed it and worked with the family to gather all the required documents. Although the monthlong process was occasionally bumpy, the Bareheads received their loan, and they credit the staff for making it happen.

“Any time we had a question, we’d shoot them a message, and they would answer us right back,” Derek Barehead said. “They were awesome.”

“It was worth it,” Charlie Barehead added. “I would definitely work with them again.”

Big Bear GFX in Grove fulfills orders for custom-designed T-shirts, decals and signs. They celebrated their one-year anniversary in March.

Charlie Barehead might not have a typical retirement ahead, but he’s looking forward to it.

Last year, Cherokee Nation Entertainment reinvested 35 percent of its gaming profits into services and programs for Cherokee Nation citizens. That investment was $49.4 million plus an additional $11 million for construction of medical facilities for Cherokees.