By KEVIN ALLEN – H-P Business Writer Published: Wednesday, June 3, 2009 1:11 PM EDTST. JOSEPH – Even in the best of
times, it takes hard work to survive in business.So when the economy hits a rough stretch, businesses have to get
busy planning and preparing for the worst if they want to weather the storm. “In today’s environment, a lot of bad
things can happen,” Manna Management President Fred Pieplow told an audience of more than 80 professionals
Tuesday morning at the Vineland Center in St. Joseph Township.
Pieplow and Joseph Dick, vice president and commercial lender at Chemical Bank, organized the seminar titled
“Managing Your Business Through Economic Crisis” after they realized many companies are dealing with the same
issues in this recession. Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce facilitated the session, which also featured
perspectives from Mark Miller, a lawyer with Klute Miller Johnson, and Brad Sackett, an accountant with Plant and
Moran. During economic booms, Miller said his schedule is packed helping businesses accommodate growth. “When
the economy goes down, we’re still just as busy. It’s just work that isn’t as much fun,” he said. Miller said
businesses need to look at how the downturn will affect their cash flow and manage it accordingly. They cannot
afford to wait until the money runs out. They also need to consider how they will react to a crisis, such as if a major
customer files for bankruptcy.
One example that was mentioned often Tuesday was General Motors’ bankruptcy, which the Detroit automaker filed
Monday. It will likely have ripple effects throughout Michigan. Dick said some people assumed the recession would
not affect their business. Then they were caught off guard when a customer shut down or their loan was due for
renewal. He said bankers in this economy are spending more time addressing “what ifs,” such as drafting
forbearance agreements and planning for different scenarios. Dick said bankers are asking borrowers more
questions, and borrowers should be asking their bankers, lawyers, accountants and financial advisers more
questions as well. “We used to chase deals,” he said. “The discussion has changed dramatically.”