5 of 7
Running in the red
Running in the red
Dee Lanning
President, Triad Heating Air and Refrigeration
Winston-Salem, N.C.

The HVAC industry in North Carolina is taking a large hit. The homeowners can't get loans to fix their heat/AC. We do commercial and residential work, but our home contractors are seeing their homes fall to foreclosure before they are completed. The cities in the area encourage small businesses to bid on construction, and we have worked hard to gain some of this work. But for these big projects, we need to secure materials now, and that really pinches us. We've been operating in the red for most of year, and my husband and I are dumping a lot of our personal income into the business to stay afloat. But we're not going to be able to continue that while paying the mortgage.

Last week, I had eight employees, but this week I have five. That means I'm putting in 10-12 hours a day, plus weekends and any necessary night hours, as our company provides 24-hour emergency service. This cut helped with my insurance and payroll expenses, but I'm still paying off the business, which we bought in 2006, while trying to afford materials for our upcoming contracts. It's scary. My phone is ringing off the hook, but it's not customers - it's the bill collector.

NEXT: More work, but no hiring

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