Hard Times

walker-talk-volume-34-2_2.jpgWith all the financial turmoil in our country and around the world the last few months, it is natural to ask, “How is Walker Manufacturing doing financially?” and “What does it look like for the future?”

It is understandable to question the stability and survival of almost every kind of business in view of the many “rock solid” companies that have gone down in flames in recent times. A favorite pastime for the media, investors and other business observers is figuring out who to blame for the failures.

First of all, I think it is helpful to remember we have lived through hard times in the past. From this experience, we have operated Walker Manufacturing with conservative principles and built cash reserves, knowing that there would be more hard times in the future. I remember 1980-82, 1990-92 and 2000-02 as tough times for us and for lots of others. I don’t know if this current hard time will be similar to the earlier times or worse, but I do know we have done our best to be prepared.

I saw a quote that is encouraging us to focus on doing our best internally and staying with the principles that have brought us this far. I believe the quote originated from business author Jim Collins and it went something like this: “Companies do not fail primarily because of what the world does to them or because of how the world changes around them; they fail first and foremost because of what they do to themselves—your life depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.”

If that is true, and I believe it is, our response to the current financial challenge is: (1) stay on course inside the company, (2) operate with the values and principles that have brought us this far, and (3) endure in a hard time by doing our best work. One of the principles my dad taught Dean and me about being in business in hard times is: The first objective is to stay in business.

Lastly, this is a good time to pray for the Lord’s protection and help for our companies, for our stakeholders and for our families. It is also a good time, if you are able, to reach out and help someone else who is having a hard time.

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