The Yin-Yang of Today’s Economics

Dec 3, 2009

With the election over and most of the hullabaloo that went with it put away for another couple of years, we’re all anxious to see what our new president and Congress will do with our erratic economy, which affects every aspect of what we do.

From changes in the way health insurance premiums for workers will be paid, and by whom, to getting the auto market back on track enough to see how what it does affects restyling retailers and jobbers, we all hold our collective breath, hoping to breathe that sigh of relief soon.

For instance, will any of the suppliers and manufacturers we’ve come to know disappear or merge or be absorbed by another? Any of those scenarios are likely.

Here at Restyling, we’ve been asking an array of readers, from captains of industry to retailers, from suppliers to jobbers, just how they have been considering the economic realities of today and the outlook for 2009 and beyond. Like the rollercoaster that it has been the economy presents a range of views, a range of realities.

One manufacturer’s spokesperson claims his company’s sales have been growing stronger, admittedly not strictly due to more trucks being sold that use the firm’s products, but because the company is grabbing market share from its competitors. At the other, downside of the rollercoaster, longtime truck cap maker CoverMaster closed down noting it “just couldn’t ride out the downturn in business.”

A restyler in the Southwest who has had a strong, growing enterprise for the past 15 years reports that he had to lay off two of his three workers as business decelerated. Meanwhile, an East Coast restyling dealer expediter reports her business remains strong.

And in the big stock-buying, stock-selling world of wheeler-dealing mover-shakers, billionaire Warren Buffet carried the banner of “buy while the market slides” -that’s where millionaires are made- while billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, who gambled on a 6-1/2% share in Ford and had backed the automaker’s turnaround plan, began selling off his shares for whatever he could get as Ford’s stock dipped as low as $1.88 per share in mid October, “bounced” back to $1.93 in early November. Kerkorian lost two-thirds of his near $1 billion investment.

And how do restyling pros see 2009? A few results from Restyling‘s Quick Poll from our September eNewsletter, as reported late October in our ToolBox eNewsletter: While 25% of you said summer business was good to great, 35% noted it was much less than that of  2007. And while 11% are very optimistic, 29% somewhat optimistic and 23% cautiously optimistic for seeing improvement by spring 2009, 29% of you say “we’re worried.” Interestingly, just 11% of the industry indicates they will make no changes to their 2009 product mix, while 17% plan “significant changes.”

Yin-yang. Part of the Chinese Tao philosophy that, to take some editorial license with, is about how even opposing forces depend on one another, and that the yin and the yang trade places with each other –  night becomes day becomes night. And that each transforms the other.

But I’m not waxing philosophical, here. The point is that even doing business right can be changed due to “circumstances beyond our control.” Maybe someone just spray-painted over the writing on the wall before we could understand just how quickly the economy would affect more than our savings and retirement funds, but so deeply, too, the industry in which we’ve all been so deeply involved.

Which billionaire, then, is the better businessman? Which restyling operation has done a better job of maintaining its business? Which major carmaker will become the true innovator and retool not just its factories but its vehicle-making philosophies? And which aftermarket supplier will drive to the top of the hill and become the new No. 1?

It’s all interconnected; we’re all in some stage of transformation. Most of us will make it, thank you very much. As long as we recognize what changes we need to effect, and when to do them.