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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Signs your company is about to cut people or close the doors?

    I'm looking for some advice from members on signs that a company is about to go under. I work in the commercial/industrial laundry field but I like to keep up with these threads, and I know there are a lot of people on here that own a company, or been out there long enough to tell what's what.

    I would say since May of this year our sales have been dropping off sharply and it does not look like it is going to pick up much in the near future. Our warehouse is fairly empty, our installers don't have a lot to do, and on the service side our hours are now capped at 40 per week. However, we have enough service work to easily put in 50-55 hours per week. In fact, I put in 56 last week and was told today that I can't do that much OT anymore, but that I could work late in the beginning of the week and take off later in the week when I hit 40.

    I've been there for over 3 years and have usually put in 50-60 per week until yesterday. There are no benefits at the company so without the OT I don't know if I should start looking or what. I just hate to get some short notice that they are shutting down and now I would have to go find something else all of a sudden. Thanks for any advice

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Alberta Canada

    I don't think this is the case

    [QUOTE=nwfl29;2036117]I'm looking for some advice from members on signs that a company is about to go under.

    All businesses have there ups and downs. This just seems to me that they are just trying to keep OT down because of current situation. You never know whats arround any corner and your guess is as good as mine. I would think when you start to see the plywood on the windows, it time to start Lking.
    Do it right the first time.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Slacking off right now
    get ready - get your resume up to date start looking at the job board at the suppliers - get organised

    now I ain't saying to start looking but be prepared - The best tool bags on the market - The offical tool bag of choice by techs everywhere

    Arguing with some people is like wrestling a pig - eventually you realise the pig actually enjoys it

    Gonads serve a useful purpose but are no substitute for brains

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Near Chicago, IL
    Quote Originally Posted by nwfl29 View Post
    I'm looking for some advice from members on signs that a company is about to go under. There are no benefits at the company so without the OT I don't know if I should start looking or what. I just hate to get some short notice that they are shutting down and now I would have to go find something else all of a sudden. Thanks for any advice
    Several large HVAC shops have gone under in my area over the last year.

    No one knew when it happened.

    Those making runs to the supply houses had to start calling back to the office and get credit card numbers.

    Companies cut benefit payments to the union hall, and it takes up to 90 days for that to show up.

    The signs were there, but the day the door was locked was known only to the owner(s). Otherwise, the employees would have gone shopping.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    hmmmmm ....... guess i'm not one to ask.

    Years ago I went to work for a shop and was doing a heating and cooling system on a mini mall about 300 miles away.

    They called and told me I needed load up, hop in the van and come back in. They wouldn't say exactly why and I was getting real nervous that there might be a medical problem or a death in my family ..... they just wouldn't say.

    I started loading the tools and ladders and the owner of the new mini mall that happened to be there aked whats up being I was loading up and it was about 9 am.

    I told him I was being called back in and was worried what it was about. He told me hang on ....... lets go down to my office. He got my boss on the phone and talked to him a bit and then handed me the phone. My boss informed me that they had gone broke and closed the doors 2 days ago and they needed to get the van and tools back.

    Kind of funny how the owner of the mini mall had a better idea then I did but I hadn't really worked for that company for more then 2-3 months and I was new in that town.
    Yep they had nice new trucks and equipment but were probably broke in reality before I even went to work for them.

    The funny part was that they were pretty matter of factly about ........ yep were broke and other then me having one of the new vans and tools, I probably would have never known they had gone under till the end of the week when I headed back to town and found the doors locked.

    When I did get back everyone that had worked there as salesman , techs , and installers were standing around trying to come up with an idea to keep it open ( ahhhh no one that had any money )....... owners and realations were no where to be seen.

    Well it never happened and I had to wait till the government auctioned off what was there to get some of my back paychecks that I happened to not get cashed being I was working out of town ........ back then banks were not opened on weekends and I was having a time cashing checks being I was leaving mondays at 5am and getting back fridays at 6. Not like I was really spending all that much being all I was doing was woring and I pretty much lived off job subsistance. I was lucky thats the way the government has it set up ........ employees payed even before back taxes.

    Well it was a screwy deal but back when I was that young ...... it was a real learning experiance and I dont think I would have done as well as I have if I didn't go thru some of those crazy things that you really got to see what can happen if you don't keep your eye on the ball.

    Another funny thing ...... the day they wanted the van back and I found out I no longer had a job ...... was my birthday.

    I don't think now days you can ever be too certain how safe your job or company is. Things change wether it be enviremental rules, changing technology, government impact, or the economy overall.

    We are seeing it right now ........ who knows where this country is headed ???????

    I feel like the dog in the back of the pickup, running back and forth , side to side, toung hanging out drooling, having a good old time watching everything as you go by.

    You have no idea where your owners going, where your next meal is, or what he heck is going on in the world.......... ITS ALL KINDA UP TO WHO IS DRIVING THE TRUCK

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    The reality is that it can change in an instant. As owners, we chug along, bidding work, ordering materials ,and so forth. We look at receivables, who owes us what, and how quickly they pay, aong with who do we owe, and can we make terms? One big job not meeting the payment schedule can hurt certain companies if they are not prepared. For example, I know of an owner who runs a small plan and spec company. He typically runs at twelve percent gm ,and hires really quality guys that almost always beat the estimate.His payroll is roughly 20k per week, and benefits another 10-12. He does not use a line of credit, he is considered a samll contractor by the gc's he works for, and receive payments on the fifteenth of each month. If he were to miss only two payments, he would have to close the doors. It is not under his control yet. They are too new to have serious funds in the bank to cover or "float" the payments. In these times, he is very nervous about just that type of thing happening. In fact, he just finished a job for me last week, and I payed him the next day to help his situatuion. My payment was only a tad over fifty thousand, but it helped tremendously. You never really know though, as a lot of contractors are in a similiar situation. That is why we preach that lowballers really affect business, as those guys can just close their doors and change the magnetic signs on the pickup. Real contractors in many cases cannot do that. Believe me, no owner wants to go broke or close his doors.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Augusta, Ks
    I used to work at a small 8 man operation, res. lite comm. heat-a/c & plumbing. One day comming in to the shop I noticed almost all our fan motors and capacitors were gone off the shelf. Later in the day I came back to the shop seeing a pallet with a big stack on it wraped in plastic. It had an address sticker..............E-BAY. They went under about a month later.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004


    The place where I was working just shut the doors without any warning.
    We all Got a warn notice on a wednesday and we were all out of work by friday!
    That was sad all the workers thought that we could save the company some how but no.
    The worst part is when you are in the middle of something and you are told to stop what you are doing and go to a meeting and all the office people are cleaning out their desks

    You can never really be prepared to know exactly when a company is going to shut the doors. When it happens you will fill like the whole world crashed down on you. No matter if you expected it or not. It is just hard to realize that you don't have a job anymore in this economy

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    I always advocating setting some of your money aside.

    It won't save you when you are out of job but it will certainly blunt the hit.

  10. #10
    Times are tough, we all know it. But in this business its always tough in one area or another. As an owner, and a small contractor, I have to watch the people we work for. Taking work from G.C.'s is always a gamble. If a window goes in wrong the customer stops paying and the GC can't pay you. Its our job as the owner to put away for the rainey days so that the company remains healthy. When we have a good quarter, we don't take all the profit, we put some away in the war chest. To those guys who loose their jobs, we hope that work will be around the corner, but its the owner who is to blame not you. My guys rely on me to make good decesions like I rely on them. Together we ride the storm of the constant ups and downs.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Everyone's stories just reminded me of what our newest tech, we hired about 6 months ago, told me when we were out on a job. The place he worked at before called him off of a job for a meeting at the office where he found out they were shutting down that day. So, just like that he was out of a job.

    I guess I did not really think much about it until now. I mean I know owners don't want to lose their business, but at the same time I think employees should be kept informed to some degree.

    If the doors were to close now it could put me in a bad spot for a while. I guess there are no bailouts for small businesses or their employees. Looks like the bailout was just for the big bankers and such? Well, hopefully my company will make it, but I don't think I am going to renew my apartment lease. Update my resume, I thought this was my last job until I retire. Ha ha. Thanks for all of the info.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    I mean I know owners don't want to lose their business, but at the same time I think employees should be kept informed to some degree.


    As an owner I would say this;

    If you even hint that you may be in trouble, before you are, everyone in the supply house, your competitors, and possibly your accounts are going to find out. Your suppliers will hesitate to lend you credit to get out of the situation, and good Technicians are going to jump ship. Contracts up for bid may pass you by in fear you may default on the contract.

    For a commercial business it only takes a few large accounts to withhold payment to put you out of business. You have no idea that an account is going to go bad until it does. Normally it doesn't go south until it's worth it for them. I had one account get into me for 20+ and stop paying, and start using a different "side jobber" for service.

    What if you put $26,000 down on a new car, and when you went to pick it up the dealer said, "sorry I am not giving it to you, I don't have your car here anymore".

    You would most likely have a dumbfounded look on your face, before your strangle him. Unfortunately Owners can't go around strangling people.

    And even if you take the time and money to go to court, you will most likely WIN. Well, win a judgement, now you still have to collect.

    I think loyalty to a company, and a companies loyalty to it's employees has been long dead for years.

    Most young people today expect to switch jobs every 2 or so years to get a higher salary.

    On the other hand;

    No company that has been in business for years flying under the same flag wants to go out of business.

    If anything a good business owners exit strategy is to sell the business when he retires.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    when do you know a company is going down............when you find out that the owner is borrowing money from his mom to pay some of the bills, when they keep going from cheeper to cheeper medical, when you work 5 or 6 hours and then send you home because they dont want to risk you going on OT, when they keep insisting that you sell parts at every PM, or when you hear statements such as, " its not us who are slow its you guys that are not generating enough hours" or when you go to the parts house and the office freaks have to look at what your buying and approving what you buy, or how about when you are told to go to home depot and buy copper or pvc out of your own pocket,ofcourse they claim that you will get reimbursed but never do or they take a long time hoping that you will forget, unexpected van inspections hoping they will find something to can you, if you are a high dollar tech they wont give you much work, instead its given to a 12 dollar hour tech who across town even though you are across the street from the place.
    I will take a bullet for my Veto LC tool bag!

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