4 of 7
Employing families
Employing families
Jim Murphy
President & CEO, EST Analytical
Fairfield, Ohio

We have had a rough year at my lab equipment supply company. Sales will be down significantly this year due to the loss of distributorship we had for a company in Europe. About 20% of our $10.5 million in sales was erased. We have decided to grow the business by developing our own line of products, which we believe will help us have more control over our destiny, but we're a small player and we have competition from large, public companies that are more diverse.

It's difficult in last few years to continue to maintain level of employee benefits we provide, but we've managed it. For me, laying off employees would be very personal. I employ 47 families - not just people, but families. So before taking that measure, I may need to try other things such as putting a hold on contributions to my employees' 401(k)s, or ask them to pay more for health care. Laying someone off is a last resort, but you can only lose money for so long.

I'm usually a very optimistic person, but right now I'm scared to death. I'm open with my employees and I've let them know that we're doing our best to cut costs, but, as an S-Corp., whatever the company makes gets added to my personal income. On paper I am one of those guys that brings in more than $250,000 a year when I actually make less than half of that. The money the company makes (not much this year) does not go into my pocket. It is sitting in inventory, accounts receivable and in the people I need to grow the business. Obama wants to take another big chunk out of what we earn, and to be honest, it is getting to the point where it isn't worth the work and heartache anymore.

NEXT: Running in the red

LAST UPDATE: Jan 29 2009 | 2:34 PM ET
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