The Economy

Suprising, even to myself, is the fact that I haven’t written much about the economy recently. Business at Horst Engineering and related companies has been so hectic, that I haven’t had time to truly reflect on the meltdown of world financial markets. The subject of the economy is at the top of everyone’s agenda right now, so there isn’t much I can really add.

However, upon reflection, there are aspects of the economic situation that are important to our businesses. We have spent time with the associates at Horst Engineering. They have concerns like everyone else. Sales volume, 401(k), and health care costs are just some of the topics of concern. There is more uncertainty right now than in some of our past downturns. However, for a family business headed into it’s 63rd year, three, six, or even twelve months of turmoil  isn’t really enough to have a huge impact on our long term strategy.

Don’t misinterpret my thoughts. A lot of financial damage has been done to a lot of businesses. We haven’t escaped the slowdown. It is just that we have a bit of a different outlook. There are tremendous opportunities right now for businesses that have been well run and well capitalized. A foundation of strength offers a huge advantage over the weak position that many businesses were in when this crisis hit.

Our business strategy isn’t much different than the strategy of individual investors. We are looking for diversification opportunities like everyone else. We are cautious with our expenses. We are addressing operational efficiency. Business in times like this can be fun, but you can’t take things too seriously. It is a good time to focus on fundamentals. With the election in two days, one unknown variable will at least be addressed. Unless we have a situation like 2000 when it took weeks to resolve the outcome, we should at least know which candidate is going to get his chance to implement his policies in 2009.

Recently, I have spent a lot of time thinking about where things may go from here. I’ve done a lot of benchmarking. I’ve made a lot of phone calls to other business leaders and I’ve had a lot of discussions with our own management team. I’ve got a great network to tap into and that is a confidence builder. Like most people, I hope that we have seen the worst of the financial turmoil. Nevertheless, I’m prepared for whatever happens next.

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