The Recession's Human Face

The last line of Voltaire’s Candide is “tend your garden,” which I interpret to mean, “worry about your own situation first instead of getting too wrapped up in the bigger problems of the world. In other words, if everyone does what’s right, on a local level, then the big picture will work itself out. Unfortunately,
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The last line of Voltaire’s Candide is “tend your garden,” which I interpret to mean, “worry about your own situation first instead of getting too wrapped up in the bigger problems of the world. In other words, if everyone does what’s right, on a local level, then the big picture will work itself out.

Unfortunately, our current economic news of gloom and doom is making it harder and harder to focus on the “micro” and ignore the “macro.” Even as President Barack Obama reminds U.S. citizens to “help out” by concentrating on their local and regional issues, it’s impossible to ignore ridiculous partisan political bickering or overlook the disheartening economist comments saying, almost unanimously, that even our massive, approved stimulus package will not be enough to restart our economy.

The reality of the global recession hit home more than ever, today, when I learned that a good industry friend and 19-year CI veteran had closed his shop due to unfulfilled orders resulting from the economic downturn.

While Baumeister Audio & Video of Niles, Illinois, seemed to face the same hurdles that most of my friends in the industry have tripped over throughout the years, John Baumeister and his brother Paul (the marketing director for the firm) seemed to understand how to brand their business, partner effectively with architects and designers, and remain viable, even as times got tough. John attended almost every CEDIA Management Conference in the past 10 years, and he seemed like an excellent role model for anyone entering this business.

When I found out that BAVI was forced to close its doors, I felt a surprisingly heavy weight hit my shoulders. If it could happen to John, then who could be next? His company isn’t the first casualty of this recession and certainly not the last, but it makes you wonder how much damage will actually occur before things improve.

It’s one thing to read about job losses and to listen to endless debates over which stimulus item should be cut or kept intact. But, it’s another thing when you put an actual face on those layoffs and business closures.

This is a good industry with a lot of great people. Keep after it folks. Take every bit of survival knowledge that you’ve ever learned from a business book, your trade magazines, at CEDIA EXPO, or during the CEDIA Management Conference, and keep fighting the good fight. It won’t be easy, but our industry will survive, as long as the passion for what you do remains the same.

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