Design Engineering

The Great Recession destination begs the question, “Are We There Yet?”


General DPN

Gauging the worst economic climate since the Great Depression of the 1930s has become a cottage industry. Will the government stimulus plans around the globe actually work? Can Big Auto rebound? Will the Green Industry save us all?

Has the Great Recession bottomed out? For goodness sake, are we there yet?

Randy Breaux, vice-president, marketing at Baldor Electric Company and chair of the Manufacturer Council of the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) Board of Directors, has pondered the last question, studied the situation and has some advice for the power transmission and motion control industry. Over the last year Breaux has asked this same question over and over about the state of the recession.

He spelled out his thoughts in the PTDA Transmissions newsletter:
“While I make no claims to having the right answer to the question, I do believe we are there…if there is the bottom of one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression. In mid-2008, most of us were seeing record growth and wondering
‘How we would keep up with demand?’ But by the end of 2008, we were wondering, ‘How did we get to this point so fast and how long will it last?’

“For most manufacturers in the power transmission industry, 2009 proved to be one of the quickest and worst declines ever experienced. And because so much of our business is dependent on the business from our distributor partners, we knew our distributors were hurting just as bad.”


Unless you are fresh out of college, most of us a familiar with business ups and downs. But what are indicators telling us today?

“There are signs of calmer waters ahead. Most of us will look back and be amazed that we came through this, and all of us will agree that we never want to go through such a tough recession again. “We all know that as business cycles go, we will see ups and downs in the future, but we just don’t know the magnitude of the peaks and valleys. Knowing what we do, we can learn and be better positioned in the future to ride out these recessions and keep our companies strong and secure for many years to come.”

Is it better to study success than to study failure, as one of Breaux’s mentors once said? “I believe all of us have an opportunity to study what allowed us to come out of this recession with our heads above water.”

To make your company be “stronger and more responsive in 2010, in an effort to help you win more orders,” Breaux has some pointed advice.

“I would really recommend each of us adopt an attitude of operating lean and mean, spending money in ways that add value to the services we provide our customers, not just spending it because we can.

“Invest in your business! All of us need to find ways to handle the increase in business that is on the horizon, without adding back the bureaucracy and layers of unnecessary management that we ‘weeded out’ during the recession. Do we really need to replace the clerk that we got rid of, even though we still can’t figure out what he did when he was here?

“Provide solutions to your customers or someone else will! Now is the time to solidify your company as the ‘solution provider’ to your customers. Many distributors and manufacturers have reduced their inside support staffs and outside sales engineers over the past year.

“End users have eliminated maintenance and operations people as well. Distributors that can provide the technical support that has been lost as well as offer solutions to improve productivity through product enhancements, process automation and technology upgrades will win orders and become invaluable to their customers.”

Breaux recommends positioning your company to take advantage of the growth to come in the next year or two. “Those that survive are the ones that are the very best at what they do! Be the best, as determined by your customers!”


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