Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A new meaning to Black Friday

As everyone knows, Black Friday is the name the retail industry uses to describe the day after Thanksgiving. The reason for the term Black Friday is it is (hopefully) the one day that retail stores can turn a profit for the entire year. However, for those affected by the downturn in the economy, Black Friday will either be a day of mourning their job loss or commiserating with those who have recently lost their jobs.

And those job losses include some heavy hitters in the SMPS marketing/business development portion of the AEC industry. Among them, former SMPS national President Peter Kienle, who was laid off last week by McKim & Creed in North Carolina, where he served as chief marketing officer, as well as veteran SMPS seminar presenter Gil Brindley, who lost his job as executive vice president with Professional Service Industries in Pittsburgh.

Sadly, this time around, the job cuts seem to be at a higher level than in previous years, when it was entry-level and recently hired folks who were let go. The thinking this time seems to be, "How can we save the most money without losing too many people?" And then companies promote from within. The problem with this is the expertise, experience, and perspective being tossed aside in the name of bottom line savings.

Kienle and Brindley told me separately that they aren't the only ones in the Charlotte and Pittsburgh areas who have lost their jobs, either. Other marketing folks at firms such as Mulkey Engineers & Consultants in Raleigh let go their marketing director about a month ago and Pennoni Associates, Inc. cut a business development position in its Pittsburgh office.

While the economy is sluggish, cutting marketing and business development folks is shortsighted. You are essentially making it certain that you will not be bringing work into the firms' coffers, thus increasing the likelihood of further layoffs in the future. It's doubly problematic for Kienle and Brindley, since Kienle was responsible for strategic planning, and Brindley, who helped seek out potential acquisition targets for PSI.

As you're eating your Thanksgiving meals this weekend, remember those folks like Kienle and Brindley who did the heavy lifting and worked the long hours, not to mention the endless hours in airports and in hotels, and are now faced with the unenviable task of trying to find a new job in this economy.


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