Saturday, April 30, 2011

California Entrepreneurs on Surviving the Recession

We dug this piece from the Orange County Register, in which Jan Norman interviews three small businessmen from southern California on the steps they took to adapt in the face of the 2007-2008 economic recession. While it's not about politics per se, we're convinced that entrepreneurship is an essential component of individual liberty; the more value you can create in the world, the more independent you can become. While we know many people convinced that today's economic climate offers no opportunities for starting their own businesses, Norman's interviews suggest that hard-working, capable people still have options, even today and even in California.

They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn.
First up in the article is David Link, owner of Precision Pet Products in Costa Mesa. In 2007, his company had a staff of 47 and revenues of almost $30 million; now, they're down to 32 people and revenues are around $21 million annually. Precision started out making wire dog cages back in 1985, and two years later landed a contract with Petco; as Petco grew, of course, so did Precision. But 2007 brought them back to earth, as many of their customers found cheaper products through suppliers in China. Says Link, "We had to step back and re-evaluate what was our strength. We can't be a commodity products company anymore. Innovation was our weakness and we had to change." Precision has become focused around innovating new products, including an edible dog toy that should hit stores this year.

Next is Prestige Software of Yorba Linda. According to its President, Paul Simmons, Prestige had a staff of 12 and $4 million in sales four years ago; now, the company is down to two people, and may lose money this year. Prior to the recession, Prestige designed custom software and focused on providing billable support services. When the recession hit, Simmons made serious personal sacrifices, including selling his home, to keep the firm going, and re-imagined Prestige as a cloud-computing provider.

Finally, we have Darin Kruse, managing partner at Cobalt Construction, which is headquartered in Simi Valley and has offices in Tustin, Long Beach, and LA. Like many construction contractors in California, Cobalt's business shrank quickly as state's housing market collapsed. In order to keep going, Kruse said the company needed to drop its "auxiliary" activities and focus on its strengths. In particular, Cobalt has found that its expertise in underground construction and heavy engineering has set it apart in the installation of solar units, as companies are now required to set large units on the ground rather than on rooftops.


Post a Comment