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Recovery planning Featured

9:08am EDT March 28, 2002

Experts predict a modest economic recovery this year, great news for businesses experiencing a slowdown during the recession. And Sandy Dickinson, Ph.D., J.D., and executive director of the Ohio Foundation for Entrepreneurial Education (OFEE), says that taking the right steps now can lead to post-recession growth -- or even growth during the recession.

OFEE, a nonprofit educational organization for small- and mid-sized businesses, encourages clients to employ several principles which can lead to growth.

First, Dickinson says, look at your customer profiles. If your current customers are unable or unwilling to buy now, shift your focus, either by demographics or by industry.

"You may find that another customer segment in a related industry is not as affected by the recession," says Dickinson. "And when the recession is over, you have grown your business, as your previous customers return."

Next, considering emphasizing service over product.

"Your customers are most likely looking for maintenance and repair services instead of new products," says Dickinson.

Randy Payne, president of Mansfield-based construction firm Adena, says his company has successfully employed OFEE principles.

"We brought some services that we were subcontracting in house," said Payne. "This allowed us to keep our employees busy, prevented layoffs, and we were able to be more competitive on our bids."

Adena targets its bids at schools, manufacturing and health care industries. By training employees to do tasks like roofing, previously contracted out, its work force remains busy and it can present lower bids on projects.

"Our employees are trained to do more, and we have a new competitive edge," said Payne.

And once the economy improves, the company can continue to use its employees' new skills to its advantage. How to reach: OFEE, 487-3675 or www.ofee.org