It was a rainy dark morning in January of 2009; I will never forget. I pulled into B&R hearing on the radio, "and the US payrolls decreased by 650 000" (number later revised further; not good). My heart sank as I knew we were in the middle of a deep recession. Shaken, I walked into work with my tail between my legs thinking, "And we are not fairing much better".
Knowing I am responsible for leading our shop in its current plight. I became overwhelmed fairly quickly. I was not sure what to do. We had damaged sales, slow payables and I was watching a manufacturing industry fall apart all around me. I became upset and 'blamed the recession'. I blamed AIG, GM and big US banks that (Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, JP, Goldman). I felt the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) failed to do their job.
After venting frustration on everything around me, I realized that my situation was the same. My blaming others did not increase our sales/profitability or get us out of the situation we were in.
Being in despair was an understatement. There were a series of precautions I took to ensure we survived the recession and our 9 year investment in people and our business did not turn into a layoff statistic.
My leading role and responsibilities were bigger than me at that time. I did what I knew best: turned to loved ones.
My inspiration came first from my father, a shareholder who said, "Ryan, this recession is going to be hard but we will get out of it. What B&R is doing is real and you will be a success…fight through this and you have my support". And before I could blink, his support was made known. The man had more confidence in my leadership then I had in myself. This inspired me to pray; "Lord, thank you for people. Thank you that you have given us an opportunity to fight through this recession. I ask for an opportunity to work". Within 1 week, we won some major jobs that allowed me to run parts 'production style' on our CNC machines. I worked 2 shifts for quite some time. I got out of the office, and on to the floor. I learned to be a CNC programmer/operator and ran the lathe. I 'pushed go' on other machines becoming a 1 man production crew. Several days I would simply work around the clock: 35hour shifts.
My wife Abby would remember the mornings I curled up to her at 3:00 am only to wake up and start my day again for 7:00 am. This lasted for about 4 months. I did not realize I had it in me to work so much. But we got the jobs done. We survived the recession. This was a team effort, and I was honored to do my part. I was incredibly thankful to Abby for her support and kindness to me during this trying time.
|My beautiful wife! Thank you so much Abby, you are my hero.|
Brad (another owner), was nothing short of heroic working hard, smart and he too jumped on the machines and produced.
We made a critical choice to keep our talent and carry a higher overhead with lower sales on the premise that we need to keep our rare Aerospace designations: a decision I look at today as brilliant. In 2010 we won a "Gold Supplier Award" with a major Aerospace firm who is equally if not more passionate about excellence. This is a success story about the free market, valuing people, taking responsibility and pursuing our dreams. I am honored to share this story with you along with some key lessons.
|Keeping our talent was a good decision.|
Today we employ 35 people, over tripling in size from the dark days of the recession. It is a beautiful honor to have survived and I remain thankful in some key areas:
- That ownership was in unity and we all equally stood behind each other
- That employees worked hard and did not give up
- That work came to us; enough to survive
- That the dark days brought several lessons that did not crush us, but made us stronger
- That my relationships grew and increased
- That we are better positioned for opportunity now, then ever before (with a strong foundation)
The top lessons I learned from this time period that I encourage you with:
1. My words created my reality. When people asked, 'how are you doing?’ I talked about how the recession is hurting us. How we are impacted by the crazy world around us. When my father/brother loved on me, and spoke life into me, I realized that our situation was not the recessions 'fault'. I realized that we choose to buy machines with payments, we choose our business with risk and reward, and we choose not to better prepare for a dark time. Really, our situation was a culmination of our choices. The recession simply was a bold punctuation mark behind our choices. I changed my language to that of taking responsibility for my choices, not blaming everything on the recession. I am proud to tell you that our situation began to change with the change in language. I encourage you today to find people who love you and speak words of life into your situation; however dark or desperate. Life and death are in the power of our tongue.
2. The recession did a great job pointing out 'holes in my game'. I realized we were doing lots of things well, but I found several opportunities for improvement. Don't wait until disaster strikes to learn your lessons. By connecting with people, being open and transparent we position ourselves to hear from others, things we cannot see ourselves. Don't be threatened by this…find a way to embrace it. Advancement comes by embracing responsibility, not running from it.
3. My political passion is tied to how real my values are in work, family and faith. I do not have 'one set of views' for faith that are different then work and another for family. Living from our values I find to be incredibly challenging and requires me connecting with other people: constantly. My passionate dislike of socialism is not simply a clash in ideology. The clash in ideology is a mere disagreement of one way of doing something to another way of doing the same thing. My passion comes from seeing what socialism does to people. How socialism devalues people, limits opportunity, creates 'brainwaves' that says, 'deflect and blame'. Just listen to the NDP…its Harpers fault your family is hurting. It's the banks fault you are paying too much interest on your visa. It's those large corporations fault we do not have enough taxes to pay for our long list of programs. Doing life with people and taking responsibility is tough indeed; especially within a free market. I often complained, "we work hard, value people and re-invest our profits…it's not fair we are getting hurt by this recession". I sounded like a socialist! In Jack Layton's world, everything is about 'fairness'…in the real world it is about taking responsibility and loving/growing with people. I am thankful I learned how to change my thinking by changing my words. I am passionate to help others discover the joy of connecting with people, taking responsibility and embracing their destiny.
Connecting point: Words have power. Jack Layton's words, "Its big business, it's the evil profit by hungry banks, it's not you… it's them! Let the NDP fight for you!" Those words have power if we accept them! If we accept it's 'their' fault and get the government to fight our fights, we are defeating ourselves by entering into a mindset of accepting a thought process which deflects blame to government. This creates a cycle of dependence and you might as well hand the keys to the car over to the NDP to drive. Don't accept such evil and untrue words! You are far too valuable and precious! You need loved ones and words of life, not socialism and deflecting blame! God bless you as you process this data.
The connection between investing in people, learning and growing while developing alignment in home, work and faith is a powerful argument that I believe our world is desperate to see, not hear.
Be encouraged as you reflect on this note and increase your capacity in business!