An investment of time saves jobs

Peter Windle's small machining business in the Tacony section took a hit during the recession, but he managed to avoid layoffs. 

Windle's approach to the whole downturn is really interesting. In these tough times, Windle didn't have money to invest in his business -- in fact, he often skipped paychecks just to make sure his employees had theirs. So, instead of investing money in his business, Windle Mechanical Solutions Inc., he invested time.When the slowdown really hit in the beginning of last year, Windle decided to use the slack period and keep his crew busy by doing the work necessary to achieve ISO 9001 2008 a year or so earlier than he had planned. This is a certification that indicates high-quality manufacturing standards. It looks good on a manufacturing company's sales brochure.

Windle told me that when the place is busy, there wouldn't have been enough time, which is also a precious commodity, to make achieving that certification a routine undertaking.

Now Windle faces another decision: Whether to replace an employee who passed away last year. Just like the entire U.S. employer base, Windle is hanging back. In January, his employees were working an extra hour a day and a few hours on Saturday. So far this month, he's not quite as busy. Windle said he needs to have 15 percent overtime for a good solid quarter before he'll hire a new machinist. That's why, when those U.S. Labor Department reports come out, the overtime number is important.  The more overtime we see, the more likely it will be for employers like Windle to reach out and bring one more employee into his company.