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Prepping for a bad year
Jim Scharett, owner
Taylor Rental Center

February is a historically slow month for equipment firm Taylor Rental, so Scharett isn't surprised customers aren't coming through the door. But he's been in the rental business since 1983, and he knows what recessions do to his industry. He's bracing for 2009 to be a very weak year.

The four-person firm rents construction equipment, and that part of the business is now not pulling the weight it used to. Scharett is relying on the strong sales of his party rental division to carry the business through.

"My corporate accounts have dwindled, and the home owners and trade contractors are not coming in as often," he says. "But just because the economy is bad doesn't mean certain events like graduations are forgotten about."

Scharett believes that he's been cautious with his business, and he's prepared to ride out a slow peak season, which will kick off in April. "I don't have any debt, so right now I'm not worried about the business, but I am worried about the country. We're in a domino spiral and there's no stop to it, which is scary."

To adapt to the down economy, Scharett has taken a hard look at costs such as advertising. He's pulled his Yellow Pages ads and has invested more in an Internet presence. But he's nervous about what will happen to his company in the next few years if business doesn't pick up.

"The stimulus is not a solution," he says. "I realize it needed to happen, but it's really just a band-aid - not a cure. We'll be paying big time for this, and our children will pay for this. I'm very patriotic, but this whole crisis really makes me wonder in what direction we're headed."

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LAST UPDATE: Mar 02 2009 | 11:06 AM ET
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