It had to be last year or the year before or even 1998, when the economic climate was far more prosperous and its future bright. Don’t ask me to pinpoint the exact trade show, conference, or meeting where this conversation took place. What is not forgotten is the “r” word uttered by the successful contractor.

“Recession,” he said. “That’s what we need. We need a recession.”


More silence.

Maybe because I had this perplexed, stunned, and frightened expression on my face, the successful contractor felt compelled to explain his out-of-the-blue statement.

“You see, with a recession, we’ll weed out all of those bad contractors that are out there today,” he said. “We have too many [contractors] now who are not of quality or are not certified. Many don’t provide good service or undercut the good ones.…”

After a full minute of explanation, the successful contractor concluded, “With a recession, the bad ones should fade away.”

Time will tell. Time will certainly tell.

It's Better to Be Proactive

Now, we don’t want to be the messenger of bad news, but we must be honest here. Economic experts were uncertain about the future of the economy prior to the Sept. 11 attacks. Today, experts appear to be in agreement that the economy is in — or headed for — a recession. What they disagree on is the extent of the downturn.

In a nutshell, hopes of a fourth-quarter recovery disappeared in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks. The airline industry ground to a halt, the stock market faltered, and expectations fell for the automotive, financial, and entertainment sectors. Based on what we can gather from economic experts, expect the hvacr industry to be hit hard, too.

In this week’s lead story, news and legislation editor Greg Mazurkiewicz doesn’t necessarily paint a pretty picture of things to come in this trade. Factored into the equation were business and consumer confidence, shipment information, and much, much more. Admittedly, it could take weeks or months to fathom the extent of the damage and determine when the bottom might be reached, and when a recovery may take hold. Many wild cards are still in play.

It’s best to be prepared for the worst, though, isn’t it? It’s far better to be proactive than reactive, correct?

Weathering the storm

In this week’s issue, we relay what possibilities lie ahead. From here on out, though, we plan to provide information designed to help you keep your business running should times get worse instead of better.

Even before Sept. 11, News editors have been busy gathering needed advice, help, and direction from successful contractors who have weathered economic turbulence over the years. We are in the process of surveying our 2001 “Best Contractor to Work For” award winners for words of wisdom. We have a strong contractor advisory board that we can turn to. And, we have questioned, at length, marketing, business, and economic consultants, with the hvacr contractor in mind.

Our first of many “Ways to Weather the Storm” reports is scheduled for next week. By all means, if you have some words of advice to pass along that could help your fellow contractors, do not hesitate to contact me by phone or e-mail. Of course, should you want a certain issue addressed, make us aware of it and we’ll try to provide possible solutions.

Looking back, there rings some truth in the prediction from that successful contractor several years ago. A recession will certainly put the heat on those who are unprepared. Count on The News to provide the needed guidance, tools, and information to help you get through these uncertain times.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 10/01/2001