I was fortunate to sit in on a round table of small business owners on Tuesday at an attorney’s office in Winter Park. There were architects, window installation contractors, general contractors, bankers, insurance agents, engineers, and most interestingly Mike Stewart of Stewart Electric Motor Works.http://www.semw.net/.
Everyone talked about how tough it has been since 2007. Many managed stress by yoga, exercise, or lighting a candle. Everyone saw a light improvement in the economy. Doug Storer, marketing director for H.J. High Construction talked about the importance of being nimble in this economy if you wish to find work.
Mike Stewart started his company in 1983 by borrowing $15,000 at 18% interest to rebuild small electric motors. His company has grown. He now has 30 employees and he repairs electric motors that are shipped to him by Mitsubishi that are 30 feet long and 15 feet high and you repair the motor by walking inside it. He works for Florida Natural Growers, Cemex, nurseries, and plastic garbage bag manufacturers. He said that his industry normally avoids recessions because people repair rather than replace motors in a recession. This time, for the first time since the Great Depression, his industry did slow down. He was very slow for 18 months. Last year was his best year ever and this year is going to be bigger. Everyone is gearing up. Cemex is adding capacity so they can provide more cement. The orange juice people are adding processing facilities. The plastic garbage bag firm is adding a line to spit out more garbage bags 24 hours a day. The firm had 5 lines and now they will have 6 lines making plastic garbage bags. All of these industries are adding capacity because they are getting orders that demand it. The recovery we do not yet see in construction and real estate is not just coming, it is coming like a freight train. Mike said it has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the fact that small business owners around the country get up early everyday and stay late to keep their American Dream alive. Mike Stewart is getting increasing orders for more electric motors. He’s struggling to find workers who can do all the work. Speaking as a veteran in an industry that is the last to go into a recession and the first to come out, Mike Stewart is sure that if you aren’t experiencing the recovery yet, you will. Like a distant thunderstorm you hear over the horizon, it’s coming.