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How Much Longer

 
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:38 PM   #1
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How Much Longer


I work for glass and glazing company located in NJ. We are providing services in all east coast from Boston and to Washington DC. Work with big and large network of kitchen and bath suppliers, small and big architectural and construction companies, interior designers.

I did not plan to write this, at least not in this way, and not at this time.

Last Friday the owner of the company gathered us all in conference room and told us that we are one week away from closing doors – simply because he will not be able to pay us salary next week.

But to give you the large picture and understanding of what is going on I should tell you more about shower door business.


First of all shower door manufacturing is a somewhat seasonal business. Like anything else, I guess. Summers and winters were not too busy, but not to slow either. But falls and late springs – were our busiest times. And that is understandable. Spring – people would get their tax returns back and start the projects they were planning. And at falls people rush to finish their renovation projects before big family dinner at Thanksgiving or Christmas, Ramadan, Hanukah, or New Year…. Finish construction before holidays. And then – January February were slow; as well as July and August.

But normally the profits we gain in busy seasons would take us trough slow times. And even more, that cyclic nature of business was a great opportunity for us to concentrate on future: update the model lines, change advertising brochures, design new and better hardware, train personnel, in other words, to do what were not managing to do when we were busy.

Last 3 seasons of 2008-2009, 2009-2010, and 2010-2011 were different. Very different. First seasons 2008-2009 – the slow periods became little longer… not much maybe 30-40 days longer. That was the first time when I saw fear in the eyes of my boss. Then in next season 2009-2010 in addition to long slow periods – the busy time shortened down. We were sure that was the rock bottom – there is no way business can fall any lower than this.
Its turn out that it can – it can just stop. And that what happened in the season of 2010-2011. In January of this year there were days when we did not receive a single phone call.

Now allow my a few words about our company. We are not just manufacturing and installing shower door – we do pretty much any glazing work, except hi-floor external glazing. Storefronts for example – we have done a lot of them. Mirrors – we cut, fabricate and install any mirror work you want. Medicine cabinets – we have large selections of proprietary medicine cabinets of different sizes.

We are the only glazing company out there that uses CAD programs to design our product. Our technicians are the best on try-state area. You give them square pipe and round hole they will find a way to make it work. Our customer service is the best in the industry. And if you need proof or that I can give a list of our customers you can ask about us. Without bragging – just ask for references; from Virginia and up to Boston. If there is luxury in shower doors then we are Lamborghinis. No other company on try state area can do what we can, no other company can offer level of service that we can, and level of knowledge that we can.

All those 3 seasons from 2008 to 2011 my boss was making gradual adjustments to balance expenses and profits. First, some bad seed employees were shown to the door. Then, couples of more guys were offered jobs in companies from our network. My boss called our suppliers and asked, if they can harbor his two glass-cutter guys, truly very good and hardworking people. And he actually found them another jobs in company in glazing industry.
Then he called us and said that he should temporary shutdown 401k contributions. Then, he called us again, and said that we have to switch to “less beneficial” medical insurance plan.
Then he got rid of few extra company vehicles. One of which, I was using occasionally when traveling to job sites and meetings. I use my Honda from then.

And there were more layoff. In this time my boss was laying off those who, by his opinion, could survive on unemployment benefits. Those who don’t have families, those who don’t have kids, those who don’t have mortgages… you got the picture. He would call those guys one by one, talk to them, and explain what was going on. Promise them that when business picks-up there will be called back…

And then we start working 4 days a week. And we were working 4 days a week in shifting schedule pretty much all 2010.
It seemed that September, October of last year the situation stabilized and we are in the bound to start going back again. But ones again we were proved wrong - this time it was Mother Nature who decided to add her part to our misery; the snowfalls, the closings, the icy roads- all that stopped construction. And where there is no construction there is no shower doors, there is no mirrors or glass partitions… there is no work. The phones were dead, the fax machines too. We calling our customers only to hear that there is no business….

So, it was not the reasons of fair competition that stopped our business. It was not a matter of overpriced product or overrated services. It was not a bad management that our company suffered from. No! Our company suffered from economic recession in general – along side with whole United States.

Finally, in January 2011, after another round of layoff we found out that this is the minimum amount of people that this company can operate with. In other words, if somebody else gets laid off, than the company cannot function, simply because sells person cannot design and calculate shower doors, glass-cutter can’t sell showers and engineer can’t install shower doors, although he designed them.
And then it was last Friday – when my boss gathered us in conference room and ask us to come up with something, otherwise he does not know how to pay us next week. He asked us to go home; crunch the numbers and Monday let him know what it the minimum that we can survive on.

This is not a cry of help, or scream of desperation… There is no use in that. Whatever life throws at us we should take like man.
This is a question to those, who are responsible for what are we going through. I don’t care why you did this… all this… Lehman brothers-AIG-recessions thing. Out of greed or stupidity, or for business purpose. I don’t care if all this made you richer or poorer - I really don’t like to count money in pockets of others. But if you tell us exactly how long we should continue to hang on, we may better distribute the strength we had left and pull this out.

And if you tell us the truth, who knows, maybe in couple of years, we actually forgive you for what have you done.
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Old 02-21-2011, 01:09 PM   #2
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Re: How Much Longer


I don't know if this will help, but, a good friend of mine owns the largest custom glass shower enclosure business in Toronto. He came out with a new product line last year - rolling doors. He has had tremendous success with them.

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Old 02-21-2011, 01:33 PM   #3
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Re: How Much Longer


Oh! we have that kind of model too! Called Matrix!
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Old 02-21-2011, 02:12 PM   #4
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Re: How Much Longer


There is no simple "how long" answer. Quite simply, there are to many construction companies of every type, many must and will fail, of course many already have. Many economists are now predicting a continuing but very slow recovery in our economy with little to no growth in construction for the next few years. If you are situated in one of the very few areas that have growing populations without a surplus of housing you are one of the lucky few, otherwise, you may need to look for a job in another industry.
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Old 02-21-2011, 02:21 PM   #5
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Re: How Much Longer


I agree with Thom. Some companies will not survive this. I think the best chances are by those companies that saw this recession coming. Back in late 2006, I started to see a cooling in the new housing construction around here. We were already a pretty lean operation. Very low overhead, no company vehicles, no health benefits, and a very modest 401k. I started to get back into remodeling and it has carried us through so far. A company can only make so many cuts before it starts to hurt the way it operates. Sounds like you guys are way past that. When payroll can't be accomplished, this is generally the end of the road.
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Old 02-21-2011, 05:00 PM   #6
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Re: How Much Longer


Sad really

Sometimes things just are what they are, and no amount of effort even in the right places can fix it. Before the big down turn or crash or what ever you call it happened I felt things changing a couple years before it did.

Right now so many people are in a "waiting" mode and trying to figure when things will return. It wont return and quite frankly I hope it doesn't because the aftermath of irresponsible economics is worse than the crash itself. What's worse is anybody in construction related industries gets hit twice as hard as everybody else.

Although slow growth is actually a better scenario than rapid growth I fear many in construction will falter.....and for some it will be no fault of there own.

I feel for you. My dads manufacturing firm is down 80%. the only solution they had was to re-invent themselves and manufacture parts for a different industry. Unfortunately they find themselves now competing with India.

It's not easy and costs are going up for everybody almost daily. Growth or no growth we are headed for a slippery slope I fear.

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Old 02-21-2011, 06:06 PM   #7
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Re: How Much Longer


Everyone has already stated the hard realities pretty much. What it boils down to looking ahead is that we must move to the transitionary phase sooner or later. It is hard, I know, especially when you have relied on a certain product or service to earn a living and then the demand suddenly just dies. This has happened many times in many eras, with the dawn of the automobile the blacksmith and the guy who made wagon wheels suddenly found themselves out in the cold if they could not transition their talents to the new reality of automobiles. Same thing with fur trappers back in the 1800's, fashion changed and the Chinese had cornered the silk market the fur suppliers did everything they could to hold on but it was a new reality. This is where we are now, a new reality, gone are the days when rising prices would let you tap your house for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, thousand or more to do a little remodeling, along with so much flipping and new building as well. I read somewhere that even with all the foreclosures in Florida that there are nearly twice as many registered real estate agents as there are houses for sale. Think about that for a minute. Transitions and sacrifices are what have to be made during these times, and the solution will come eventually, you just have to make the efforts and be ready to sacrifice for what could be a long time. This was a long artificial boom, so it's going to be a long road to recovery
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Old 02-21-2011, 06:06 PM   #8
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Re: How Much Longer


I don't mean to sound callous at all, but this is the cycle of a capitalist economy. I would never wis losing a job on anyone, but you need to figure out what you're going to do and you need to do it now.

It does you no good to sit here and wonder why this is happening and how long can we go on. If you are a lifer employee, and there is nothing wrong with that at all, than you need to not worry about brainstorming to come up with some idea that will keep your company afloat for another couple of weeks. You need a job.

If you are any kind of entrepreneur, id be shocked if you were not making a move to align yourself with a couple of people whose skills offset and compliment yours and jump ship. Low overhead, common goal.

This is how new business grows from dying ones.

Again, I mean no offense but you are wasting time re-arrainging deck chairs on the titanic when you should be finding a lifeboat.
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Old 02-22-2011, 03:21 PM   #9
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Re: How Much Longer


Thanks everyone! for just paying attention to me. I understand all what you are saying, understand with my mind. just cant accept it with my hearth.
our company really like family to all of us. the boss is a great guy and we are really proud to to what we do.
it was more an anger, i think. anger to all those, who - i believe- designed and executed this big recession. someday it will turn against them, I am sure!
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Old 02-22-2011, 03:27 PM   #10
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Re: How Much Longer


Why don't you invent a shower door that kids can write on with special things written on it that gives them something to do? Why not invent stickers that go on shower doors that make a game for kids, something that gets kids excited to shower.

How about a shower door that you slide photos in of the family animals or favorite movie characters? Something that changes, something the kids can do from the outside while getting ready to read it when they are inside.

How about something that, when you step out of the shower you are smarter, or happier, or cleaner. You can do millions of things with a shower door.

Innovation is always ready when you are!

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Old 02-22-2011, 03:34 PM   #11
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Re: How Much Longer


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Originally Posted by Any Season View Post
I don't mean to sound callous at all, but this is the cycle of a capitalist economy.
Apparently you don't know who Keynes is?
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Old 02-22-2011, 03:44 PM   #12
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Re: How Much Longer


NO, this is a RESULT of excess spending and irresponsible people in Gov, business, and consumerism. Capitalism, on the contrary, is what SHOULD protect it, real capitalism is not what has happened.

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Old 02-22-2011, 03:49 PM   #13
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Re: How Much Longer


Quote:
Originally Posted by jarvis design View Post
I don't know if this will help, but, a good friend of mine owns the largest custom glass shower enclosure business in Toronto. He came out with a new product line last year - rolling doors. He has had tremendous success with them.
website?---I'd like to check them out.
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Old 02-22-2011, 03:52 PM   #14
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Re: How Much Longer


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How about something that, when you step out of the shower you are smarter
Mike
If you invent that, I'll be your first customer!!! I need all the smarts I can get!
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Old 02-22-2011, 03:55 PM   #15
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Re: How Much Longer


Massive government redistribution of wealth to bail out failing and often crooked businesses is socialism, not capitalism. Officers of those companies lining their pockets with the money instead of using it to get the business back on track is just plain criminal.
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Old 02-22-2011, 04:02 PM   #16
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Re: How Much Longer


The tale was forbode of what was coming back in 05-06 on this very board. However the majority thought it was preposterous. But then again at that time most of the members had more experience at contracting than construction experience as a whole. You know like 1-2 years as a contractor and 6 months of summer job experience as a laborer during college. No I think that warrants

All the BA's in the world can't stand up to the throat cutting that goes on in this business. That is why the college boys are easy to spot on here they cry about being underbid.
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Old 02-22-2011, 04:18 PM   #17
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Re: How Much Longer


Blame Lehman and AIG all you want, but don't forget to look at your fellow consumers. The government, no matter how efficient it is, will never be able to regulate greed, and consumer greed was/is a big part of the problem.
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Old 02-22-2011, 04:34 PM   #18
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Re: How Much Longer


Just remember that politics goes in a special thread on the forum. I shouldn't of even made that comment actually because I just fueled the fire. But hey, I'm from Wisconsin and our Governor is kicking tail so I'm excited....can you blame me?

Anyhow, the mods here will shut this down if it gets to political.

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Old 02-22-2011, 04:44 PM   #19
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Re: How Much Longer


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Blame Lehman and AIG all you want, but don't forget to look at your fellow consumers. The government, no matter how efficient it is, will never be able to regulate greed, and consumer greed was/is a big part of the problem.
I agree with that 100%
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Old 02-22-2011, 04:50 PM   #20
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Re: How Much Longer


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I agree with that 100%
The funny thing is, greed is now....worse than before. Think about it.

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