Doing Something

Dec 2, 2009

At the beginning of the year when it became apparent the economic downturn was more than just a blip and headlines started prominently featuring words like “recession,” my inbox started filling up with unsolicited emails from marketers, self-help writers and others, all adding their two cents to the discussion.

While some were industry — specific and others more general in nature, many of the comments built on the same themes — that much of what was happening was a result of negative thinking and/or scare tactics; that the media was creating a giant problem out of a small one; that this was a time to forge ahead instead of hunker down; and if everyone would just shrug off the problem like it was no big deal, it likely would go away.

At the time, for me — like many American — that didn’t necessarily seem like the way to go. After all, simply putting on a happy face wasn’t going to get the jobs back for friends I knew who were laid off, or increase the pay for those who had their salaries cut, or encourage people to spend money they didn’t have. In their businesses and their personal lives, people took a long, hard look at where they were, mapped out a plan for survival and made the necessary adjustments away from business as usual.

Approximately nine months later, it’s still too soon to know if things are getting better, but in many cases at least they don’t seem to be getting much worse. Maybe the economy is starting to recover, maybe the painful cuts that had to be made are showing dividends, maybe everyone is learning to get by with a little less, or maybe it’s a combination of all of those factors and more.

Regardless, enough time has passed now that companies that find themselves still on firm footing can take stock of what’s worked for them over the past year, and even start to consider making some long-term plans for future growth once again.

This issue of Performance Business magazine takes a look at how the industry has made it through this tough summer, and identifies some processes and products that might help your business move forward.

For instance, despite its recent hardships, GM apparently has produced a winner with the 2010 Camaro, and manufacturers are offering a variety of performance upgrades for new owners, (see page 42.)

And, for companies that remain on solid financial footing, there maybe has never been a better time to look at upgrading your shop tools or equipment, as deals abound, (see page 22.)

In an article outlining the types of things successful retailers are demanding from manufacturers (see page 36), Bob Scheid of Fidanza Engineering Corp. sums up the cautiously optimistic tone many in the industry are taking as we head into the national trade show and winter building seasons.

“We do see that business for the market right now is a little up-and-down, (but) we are seeing more ups than downs, and I think the whole industry is poised for resurgence as the economy strengthens.”

Now may be the time to take some of the advice from all those emails last winter and forge ahead, at least a little bit. Maybe companies did have to hunker down for a while, but for those still standing, there’s no sense simply standing still.