the January 23, 2004 print edition
execs see better times ahead -- survey
Karen Shelton and her employees at T&S
Software weathered the storm that ravaged Dallas-Fort
Worth's telecom industry during the past few
years, while 20 of the telephony product providers'
clients faded into oblivion.
The Richardson-based company, which survived
by cutting back its staff by more than half
and sacrificing many employee perks, pulled
in $3 million in revenue last year with work
from five steady clients. Now business inquiries
are up and two deals are pending this month.
One deal could garner T&S $20 million over
the next five years.
"I believe we will increase our revenue
by 25% this year," Shelton said.
She's not alone in her optimistic outlook.
More than 90% of Dallas-Fort Worth executives,
including those at some of the nation's largest
companies, expect business conditions to improve
in the next six months, according to a just-released
survey by Dallas-based executive consulting
firm Randall James Monroe Inc.
Of the more than 150 local executives surveyed,
those in manufacturing, telecommunications and
professional services all reported they expect
improvement. Software, information technology
and retail were among sectors also showing renewed
"This may be due, in large part, to
steady improvement of stock market conditions
and encouraging corporate earnings reports,"
said Randall Neal, RJM's chief executive. The
company's clients have included General Motors,
Perot Systems and Burlington Northern Santa
Fe Railway Co.
"I am pleasantly surprised by the findings.
We noticed an increase of activity in October
and November," he said.
After adding companies outside the Metroplex
to the mix, RJM's survey found 91% think business
conditions will improve. That's up from 73%
in a similar report six months ago and 61% at
this time last year.
"When it comes to improved business conditions,
you crawl a little, but then you walk a little.
Pretty soon you can run," said T.D. Dickey,
longtime chairman of Dallas-based Dickey's Barbecue
Restaurants Inc., whose business saw a solid
4% increase in same-store sales in 2003 and
expects the same this year. The company, which
has 55 stores nationwide, recently opened a
store in Corsicana and has six stores under
construction in the Metroplex.
Dickey said the company also has seen its catering
business increase as other businesses revive
their spending on extras. The company also is
"robustly" hiring store managers and
While hiring is often a lagging indicator of
improved economic times, the RJM survey found
45% of Metroplex executives expect hiring to
increase during the next six months.
Louis Gasper, associate professor of management
at the University of Dallas, said much of the
renewed confidence comes simply because businesses
have survived the shakeout of the economy in
the last few years and are ready to move forward.
"Businesses love stability of their framework,"
According to Neal, manufacturing companies
locally were more optimistic that hiring will
increase than their counterparts nationwide.
That doesn't surprise Vincent A. Rego, chairman
and chief executive of McKinney-based Encore
Wire Corp., which has hired 100 people in the
last three months. Many of the positions were
for machine operators, inspectors and shipping
"We are in the market now for machine
operators," said Rego, who added that the
copper wire and cable manufacturer (Nasdaq:
WIRE) was able to pick up additional business
when one competitor filed for bankruptcy protection
and another made cutbacks. Encore has 700 employees.
David Pailin Sr., president of Dallas-based
Pailin Group Professional Search Consultants,
said he's "cautiously optimistic"
that the economy will improve. However, he expects
more layoffs nationally, particularly in finance
and banking, as mergers in the financial sector
continue. His company is performing 25 searches
in the Dallas area and several more nationally
through its offices in Philadelphia and Atlanta.
"We have seen more activity to date this
year than we did (for the same period) last
year," he said. "The first quarter
is typically our busiest time."
DBJ writer Stephanie Patrick at email@example.com
or (214) 706-7121.
here to return to Pressroom for Randall James