“I wish I could project growth for next year,” says Porta-King, Inc. CEO Steve Schulte. “Unfortunately I would be kidding myself. The uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff has already resulted in a decline in our core business. I was set to make a major acquisition of one of our competitors but as business slowed that growth became a risk we just couldn’t take.”
Last year Porta-King bought a building to expand their business internally and prepare for an acquisition, preparing to grow and add workers to accommodate their expected expansion in production capability. Unfortunately Porta-King is now projecting sales in 2013 to be 10% less than this year – making that investment a sunk cost for the time being. As the fiscal cliff approaches, it becomes more difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel and reports out of Washington are only increasing that pessimism among manufacturers.
Porta-King manufactures modular in-plant offices, the kind you see in manufacturing and distribution facilities across the country, along with pre-fabricated stand-alone exterior buildings like security guard entrances, toll booths and bullet resistant structures. Click here to check out a photo essay of their operations. In business since 1932, Porta-King split with its parent company in 1969 to pursue a diversified market and hasn’t looked back since. Headquartered in St. Louis, MO, the company has grown significantly over the years and now employees 265 people. They took a pretty big hit during the recession but were bouncing back before the fiscal cliff has threatened to knock Porta-King down again.
Mr. Schulte, who has been with the company since 1970, says, “The fiscal cliff has got me very worried. We’re experiencing a severe decline in customer activity – and they’re telling me that they’re going to sit tight until they have certainty. I’m also a military supplier, so the hit from defense cuts will impact me along with the tax increases I’m facing. It’s important for Washington to remember that increasing taxes on the top rates is absolutely a tax on manufacturers and other small businesses that want to re-invest back into their business.”
Mr. Schulte and manufacturers need action and they need it now. “I want our leaders to do what’s right for the country – I want them to stop campaigning, sit down at the table and get a deal done. I am absolutely petrified about the future for small business in America. I don’t blame business owners or our customers for holding back right now – investing with this uncertainty is foolish. But if they can put together a solution that protects manufacturers I know that we can get the engine of our growth moving again.”