Defibrillating a company

My company is going through a rough patch. A few reasons that it’s happening is the high Australian dollar and our market is predominantly related to water or the lack thereof; so the La Nina weather event has “hit us for six” to use the local term. :frowning:

I was wondering what people have done when their company has gone through a rough patch.

This is my first design job out of uni and I am the only ID guy on staff so I’m fairly new to this. I have suggested to better our online presence, have company brainstorming sessions, and at my suggestion we’ve started having ‘design and tooling’ meetings for the first time in the companies history. I also had about 10 more ideas some of which were shot down, some I got a “maybe” and some I was told we already do.

To keep myself busy I’m currently 3D modelling up existing products which have been around since the 70’s and 80’s and getting everything organised but I think I could be making better use of my time.

Any suggestions?

You’re headed down the right path. Those are all good things to help better the company in terms of organization.

But, you can only tidy up for so long. And you can only hold so many meetings. At some point you have to do something to make things happen. Is there a market that you could serve that you don’t currently? Is there something else you could design/manufacture/invent that your company could easily build with what you have in place? That’s where I’d head if it looks like the rough patch is going to last more than a month or two.

We have a few initiatives such as the sales guys going out on trips around the country and looking for ‘OEM’ work which is basically other companies designs which we manufacture. The problem here is Australia is that with our high dollar, everyone’s business is quiet. Our products aren’t selling and neither are our OEM customers’.

This is also reflected in our lack of design jobs in the manufacturing sector. I’m sure it’s different overseas where currencies are undervalued, making exporting strong and staving off imports. We have a booming mining sector in our economy which is overvaluing our dollar which in turn makes the situation very bad for manufacturers. I think manufacturing is dying a slow death in this country. It might be time to look at other ways to use my skills.

I think manufacturing is dying a slow death in this country. It might be time to look at other ways to use my skills.

I tended to think the same about Germany 10 years ago and was proven wrong. The grass looks always greener on the other side. (as the rough patches blend into the green)

A lot of economies share that currency issue against the artificially low chinese yuan. As a designer you can’t solve that.
But you might be able to help your company better than building old stock products in CAD. (Which at least fills your time better than mine sweeper)

I have no info in what kind of products your employer is specialised, so I’ll answer in a more general manner:

    • hook up with the sales guys
  • find out which ideas are in the drawers, that weren’t pursued in times of high demand.
    • hook up with production
      what production facilities do you have on hand that are “unique”. What other things could come out of that?
  1. Have a critical view at the core markets your company serves. Are you at a competitive player?
  • can you as a designer in your position make that company compete better?
  1. Will the market for your main products likely recover?

I’ll bet all of us have been through tough times. Our business was hit hard in 2009. As were our customers.
Gladly there were funds still, to develop some nice new things through that time of slow sales, which
helps us coming back full force nowadays.

Never give up. “It aint over until it’s over.”


P.S.: If your employer resembles Nokia, or Chrysler. Skip all blurb above and flee the ship, that’s 2/3 under water…