Volume 48, Issue 3 - May 2009
In the news
by Dan Warren, president, Warren Window and Supply Co. in Rapid City, S.D., and first vice president of the Association of Millwork Distributors. Mr. Warren’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine.
Taking the Controls
What Do Flying and the Building Economy Have in Common?
I hate flying and always have. I don’t have a good explanation for my fear because, honestly, I have never encountered any real danger while flying other than turbulence. There is just something about being at 30,000 feet (or for that matter off the ground) and the uncertainty that comes when a plane decides to start bouncing around that just turns my palms sweaty and makes my heart and mind race. I want that pilot to find a smoother ride. Why can’t the pilot find a smoother ride? Part of my problem is that I don’t understand all the aspects of flying. I have concluded my fear is a combination of not being in control of the situation, the uncertainty of the future and my inability to hold someone or something accountable. Maybe I should become a pilot and overcome my fear.
Who’s in Control?
If becoming a pilot would overcome my fear of flying then why, as an owner of a window and door distribution company, am I scared of today’s building economy? I seem to be suffering the same tribulations as flying. I don’t seem to be in control, although I would like to think I am. I do have a responsibility to control costs, inventory levels, overtime and capital purchases, but with all the “turbulence” and uncertainty, I am not really sure I have enough control. Honestly, in listening to all the so call experts, I sometimes wonder who does have control today. The current economy appears to have signs of getting rougher and those in control can’t seem to find a smoother altitude. Between the bailouts, the continued decline in housing starts, corporate failures and declining stock markets worldwide, the ride is rough.
I can’t truly say I understand the recent $700 billion dollar stimulus or “bailout” bill to help the economy that Congress approved. Has the economy improved? When it comes to these “bailouts,” I don’t know about you, but I have trouble fathoming these amounts of monies, let alone where the money is going and who is receiving these monies. I wonder if the building material industry is entitled to a bailout.
Where is accountability for the lenders and borrowers who were not fiscally responsible? It certainly appears to me lenders lent too much and borrowers borrowed too much. Why should those of us who practice fiscal responsibility have to suffer through increased taxes for bailouts? Instead of offering bailouts, the Federal Government should have put the lenders and the borrowers in a closed room and told them to arrive at a resolution that will work for both parties. I believe the private sector—the free enterprise system—can and should be responsible for negotiating an equitable solution rather than government intervention.
I question where the accountability is and who is accountable for the huge bonuses of Wall Street’s CEOs. How many of you owners and/or managers have lost money in your companies only to be given a bonus for doing so? I don’t know about you, but I believe my banker might have a little something to say about that bonus. Recently, it was reported one financial CEO claimed he deserved his $10 million bonus even though the company he ran no longer exists. Somebody please tell me how this works. It’s easy to lose money, and I always thought making money was hard. Seems maybe I was wrong.
I am reminded of the book, Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do by the Reverend Dr. Robert Schuller. Tough times do not last forever, and history has shown that down trends, recessions and even the Great Depression, do not last forever. That does not make one feel better when struggling through times such as now, but it does give light at the end of the tunnel. So, as with flying and today’s economy, I will control what I can, gain knowledge of what I don’t understand, look to the future with optimism and hope, and hold myself, my co-workers and my customers accountable. Thankfully, the plane has always landed safely and so too will the building economy.
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