By Jamie Folsom
The question read, “How have you adjusted your business plan to address the downturn in the economy?” Those gathered at the recent Berthoud Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon shared their strategies and thoughts on surviving these difficult times during the roundtable discussions. With his usual bold demeanor, construction equipment sales rep Peter Bridgman declared, “I refuse to participate in the recession.”
“I might have to work a little harder, work a little smarter, it’s true, but I had made the executive decision that I was not going to participate,” he added.
“This guy’s in la-la land,” Bridgman quipped, recalling the reaction of the room. The construction industry has taken a particularly hard hit in northern Colorado, with new home and office building shuddering to a stop in many areas, and foreclosure rates knocking consumer confidence off its game. But Bridgman believes his company, Severson Supply & Rental, can continue their success. “We can weather, and perhaps even thrive, in this storm.”
“Northern Front Range has been hit hard by the recession… they’re not building houses, and people say, ‘There’s no business, forget about it!’” But, Bridgman looks at it from a different angle. “When you start digging you find that is FAR from true.”
“There are people and companies that are so busy they don’t know how they are going to get to the work on their books,” he notes.
Having been in the mining and construction industry for many years, starting in his home country of England, Bridgman has seen the changes in U.S. energy policy, the ebb and flow of the economy, and facets of the business that don’t seem to waiver in the tides. He explained that when things are good, it’s easy to find customers, but when things take a turn for the worst, business doesn’t completely disappear.
“Business is exactly the same now – one-third sit on their hands and twiddle their thumbs, one-third are just getting by, and one-third are so darn busy they don’t know which way is up, and those are our customers.”
Bridgman attributes his success to keeping a cool attitude. “Above all, success depends on a good positive attitude because a lot of these guys are listening to the media – bad news sells.” And he says, people get into a frame of mind believing things aren’t working at all. Then “if you come in with an upbeat attitude, and all of a sudden you’ve got these people’s attention.”
“It really works,” he says. “I like to be around people who are cheerful and upbeat, especially when times are tough.”
And Bridgman’s attitude has paid off in hard numbers. Even if things are “borderline scary” as he describes it, “Not only are my sales up from the last couple of years, it’s better than it’s ever been. Ever.”