Recession Rebound

Businesses Reflect How Recession Hit Bottom Line A?Decade Later

Pictured is Lander’s Men’s Store in downtown Jamestown. The shop saw an increase in sales during the Great Recession, which began 10 years ago this month. Other businesses, though, were hit much harder during the recession. P-J photo by Eric Tichy

The Great Recession began in December 2007, at a time when the unemployment rate was at 5 percent. Less than two years later, that number doubled.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment decline experienced during the recession — widely considered to last from December 2007 to June 2009 — was greater than any previous recession in the past several decades. Goods-producing industry, in particular, experienced the largest declines in employment — declines not seen since post-World War II.

Locally, the Jamestown area was not immune to the impacts of the recession, though some businesses felt the ripple effect harder than others. And in some cases, certain industries saw a boost in sales as consumers sought cheaper alternatives to everyday items such as clothes and groceries.

David Dawson, owner of Dawson Metal, said the great recession was one of two significant setbacks for the company during the first decade of the 21st Century. The first setback was the tourist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Nine-Eleven kicked us in the teeth,” Dawson said. “Then came the recession, the financial crisis in 2008. That severally impacted us in a number of ways, including losing $850,000 in our fund to pay pensions.

“That significantly hurt us as well,” he continued. “Both those periods of time were challenging. It really was. There should be a stronger adjective than challenging. I’m happy both events are over.”

Dawson said Dawson Metal has rebounded “outstandingly” since the great recession. He said they recovered the losses in both the pension and sales during the past 10 years. He added that they were able to recover a little bit every year.

“The start of 2017, it has been like I’ve never seen before in our business,” he said. “We have had more opportunity that my team has successfully brought in. Our top line sales are 50 percent higher year over date, which reflects some shipments in 2017 and has dramatically impacted us in 2018. Our business is as strong as it has ever been, right now.”

Dawson Metal Company is a family owned metal fabrication manufacturer that was started by Dawson’s grandfather, Axel, in 1946.

The business is located at 825 Allen St. The Dawson Metal Company has a separate division titled Dawson Doors. Also, it has another business, Spray-Tech Finishing & Assembly, located at 1853 Delaware Ave., Falconer. Dawson Metal Company and Dawson Doors is located in a 100,000 square feet metal fabrication facility. Spray-Tech is located in a 50,000 square feet industrial powder coating, wet painting and custom assembly facility.

On the other end of the spectrum, one local business saw an increase in sales during the recession. Cliff and Ann Powers, both of whom own Landers Men’s Store at 215 N. Main St. in Jamestown, saw an uptick in clothing sales early on in 2007.

“I remember very well,” he said. “It helped us. It didn’t actually hurt us because we’re a lower-priced store. When (customers) looked for something that’s more bang for their buck they came to us. During those years we actually had better years.”

Surprisingly, it was before the recession in 2007 that business slowed at Lander’s Men’s Store. The declined reversed shortly after the stock market began to crash.

“I attribute that to people looking for alternatives to a $400 dollar suit,” Powers said. “A $100 suit looks a lot better at that point. When you look at your 401(k) or your stock market and they’ve lost half their values.”

Personally, Cliff Powers said his investments took the hit during the recession and not his business.

“I probably lost about 60 percent of our retirement investments over that 2007-08 range,” he said. “The good news is we made it back many times over because we never sold the stock.”

Powers said even with the economy bouncing back when compared to 2007, his business has still remained profitable. “We’re going along fairly good here,” he said.

Lee Harkness, Jamestown Community Chamber of Commerce, said the community has rebounded from the 2007 recession in some ways, but not so much in others. He pointed to the growth in Celoron Park, including the hotel project next door.

“We need to continue to improve on our efforts,” Harkness said. “We need to continue to improve what we’ve already done.”

Harkness said the Chamber of Commerce is taking steps to create events and other opportunities for visitors to stay an entire weekend instead of just a few days. He said he also sees opportunities in the area park systems, car shows and cruise-ins that could encourage more growth.

Katrina Fuller contributed to this story.