Leapfrogging the competition

May 20, 2009
By: Vicki Bell

Yesterday's "Tube Talk" e-newsletter that went out to more than 10,000 metal tube and pipe industry professionals featured findings from the Turning the Corner survey conducted in the UK by Barclay's Commercial.

According to this survey, a majority of UK businesses (54 percent) view the ability to leapfrog struggling competitors as their key opportunity in the current recession. Thirty-one percent view staff loyalty, retention, and productivity as their greatest opportunity during the economic downturn.

Do "Tube Talk" readers share these views? Several wrote to say they agree—the downturn presents very real opportunities.

A reader who works for a North American producer of oil country tubular goods (OCTG) wrote, "I agree with [these views]. I am an administrative worker and can't really influence our owners that are in another country. It seems to me that we should be concentrating on the opportunities the economic situation that we find ourselves in holds. It is a time when we can leapfrog over our competition. If we expand our capabilities now, when the recovery happens we will be in a better position than those that have shut down."

This reader also agrees with the 31 percent who see a great opportunity to retain their skilled workers. He said, "Realistically companies have to become more efficient and find ways to have a cost savings. But why is it that the first place they look is their work force for cutbacks? When people are dropped, or 'voluntarily' retire, they take with them years of experience and knowledge. It seems we need to start looking for creative ways to cut back so as to keep our most valuable asset, our work force."

Commenting on the survey results, David Marks, managing director of Barclays Commercial Bank in England and Wales, said, "These results show that far from being focused solely on survival, many companies are using this period to make a renewed push for growth and market share."

The survey also found that:

  • 62 percent of business owners/managers said they were currently streamlining their business processes to combat the recession.
  • More than a third of UK businesses (35 percent) are helping their customers to combat the recession in order to tackle the recession themselves.
  • 37 percent said they are diversifying product and service offerings to protect against the recession.

Marks added, "We are also seeing a grass roots economic transformation in the UK as businesses change what they produce and how they produce it en mass. This transformation is one that businesses and banks alike are working hard to understand and plan for."

Aren't we all.

This blogger would like to thank those who take the time to share their thoughts. You should know that all comments are read and appreciated.

Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209