I recently read an article asking the question, “Should Companies Play Offense or Defense in a Downturn?” The article referenced the 1980-82 crisis, the 1990-91 slowdown, the 2000-02 dotcom bust, the 2007-2009 recession, and finally, they are calling 2020 a recession year. The research found a correlation between increased investments and improved company performance during these periods. Those companies that chose to play offense showed improvement in return on equity, sales growth, and market share. Companies that decreased investment showed deterioration on all three counts. I felt the article perfectly illustrated our strategy during these periods.
We recently closed the books on 2020 and began 2021, our 113th year in business. I reviewed our history during the downturns and could see significant investments in the three categories that the article examined: capital expenditures (buildings, equipment and infrastructure), economic competencies (innovation, peer & supplier networks, customer relationships, and training), and talent (number of people employed). My investigation was focused on 2010 to the present. My previous article, “Business as Un-Usual,” pointed out the nuts and bolts of the investments we made during 2020. We continue to capitalize in all these areas. I then turned my attention to the softer side of our business.
One of the most profound changes over this time has been the richer understanding of and deeper commitment to our customers, vendors, and employees. We cannot achieve success if we choose to pursue these goals independently. Rather, success requires that we consistently work to achieve our goals through integrated initiatives that place a high priority on moving us forward simultaneously on multiple fronts and managing our total impact as an organization. The investment in our employees/owners continues to be in the forefront. Since 2010, we have increased our office staff by 57 people and are now up to 137 office employees. This commitment to constantly develop and improve our organization is to better serve our customers. The result has been a 60% increase in revenue. Our field workforce has increased proportionately, and I’m happy to say that even with the increase in man-hours and number of electricians, our safety record has improved considerably. We continually work with vendors that help us utilize the latest technologies and programs to achieve our goal of reducing our carbon footprint. Simply stated, we are investing in every aspect of our business to take advantage of each opportunity and continue to play offense. Recessions are inevitably followed by expansions, which typically last longer than the recessions.
Over the last year, we kept all our facilities open with a combination of in house and work-from-home participation. We have always been a brick and mortar company, and we see the value of being able to communicate face to face with one another. The purchase, upgrade, and renovation of our buildings enforces this stance. As we exit the dark COVID-created cloud and return to near full capacity, I thank you for being a valued customer, colleague, and/or partner!