Swimming Against the Current

By November 29, 2012Taxation

Windham Millwork, Inc., has been a leading furniture and millwork manufacturer in Windham, Maine, for three generations. Unfortunately, the company is already a victim of the uncertainty caused by the fiscal cliff. Windham Millwork CEO Bruce Pulkkinen noted that the difficulties are especially frustrating coming on the heels of the past recession. “We’re finally starting to come out of a bad situation, but the threat of tax increases and the uncertainty in the United States could put us right back in the hole. I’m worried about how bad it could get if policymakers don’t come to an agreement—but I’m equally as worried that they might arrive at an agreement that will hurt manufacturers like me. Tax increases would undermine the little growth that we have had and keep me from making badly needed investments in my company.”

Windham Millwork has already had to put off replacing three machines critical to its operation. The company simply cannot take on the risk of those purchases when it doesn’t know what its fiscal future might hold. The uncertainty has forced Windham Millwork to institute a hiring freeze and delay important training. According to Mr. Pulkkinen, the ripple effect of the policies coming out of Washington will be felt through every sector of the U.S. economy. Windham Millwork has taken aggressive steps to limit the fallout from the fiscal cliff—increasing sales efforts and improving operating procedures to do more with less—but given the unknown of what lies ahead, it is hard to tell if it will be enough.

Following the 2009 recession, the economic recovery has been slow across the nation. Manufacturers that were hit hard by the economic fallout have been steadily working to rebuild what they lost.  However, those that have made modest gains now face yet another backslide. Windham Millwork is one of these companies at risk.

Since its founding in 1957, Windham Millwork grew from a small, one-shop plant to a sleek, technology-driven complex that employs 70 people and services New England and surrounding states. Despite its past success and the sweat equity that the Pulkkinen family and their employees have put into the company, Mr. Pulkkinen is not overly optimistic about the future.

“In many ways, the uncertainty and negative policies coming out of Washington have been an absolute nightmare,” said Mr. Pulkkinen. “We’re trying to keep swimming forward, but it’s tough when the current is against you. After several years of going in the wrong direction, it would be great if Washington could get behind manufacturers. If policymakers fail to avert the fiscal cliff and prevent these huge tax increases, it’s going to send our economy into a tailspin. Many people have called for taxing the wealthy. I wish they would understand that the job creators in this country are going to be swallowed up instead.”

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  • Mary Kaplan says:

    This post describes a sad reality for many small manufacturers in this country. It’s hard enough to keep manufacturing here instead of going to countries with much lower labor costs to do the manufacturing. If our government enacts even more laws and policies that hurt our own manufacturers, then there will be no manufacturers anymore. This is not what is best for our country. We need to support our own businesses to keep them alive and prospering here. I can understand why so many are so worried about the fiscal cliff and everything that it represents.

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