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Family-Owned Construction Company Vows No Layoffs…and Keeps its Promise


"It’s a challenge. No one thought we’d be where we are today, having not pulled out of [the recession].”

Marvin Windows and Doors has been the biggest employer in the small town of Warroad, Minn. for nearly a century. During the housing slump, the private company has lost money, but the owners have  vowed not to cut health benefits or layoff a single employee, reports Business Insider.

“Housing isn’t in a recession. It’s in a depression,” says Susan Marvin, the company’s president.

“While it’s challenging for our people right now, and not everybody understands all the reasons why, the alternatives are devastating. These people would have to pick up and leave,” Marvin said in a recent New York Times article.

Michael O’Brien, the chief executive of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, says consumers remain nervous.

“It’s always, ‘Next year it will turn around,’ ” he says. “It’s a challenge. No one thought we’d be where we are today, having not pulled out of [the recession].”

Marvin’s no-layoff announcement was originally cheered by employees, and in April 2009, Marvin and a Marvin employee were hailed as “great Americans” on national television, reports the Times.

However, much of that initial euphoria has worn off as the reality of smaller paychecks has materialized itself in the last three years.

Many employees have decided to take a second job. Marvin employee, Nathan Hoy, 30, is working a second job at the Warroad Municipal Liquor Store. His reduced hours at Marvin Windows have taken a toll. “You drive less, drink less, go out less often,” he said in the Times report.

“I’ve talked to other business people about it, and they have challenged it. They have challenged the wisdom of it,” Susan Marvin says referencing her company's no-layoff promise.

However, they are sticking to their promise and refuse to cave because of hard times.

“You can’t cut your way to prosperity. You can’t grow if you are cutting your lifeblood — and that’s the skills and experience your work force delivers,” she says, adding later: “Today, I think, to a great a degree, I think things have gotten out of balance. We see Wall Street almost punish companies that take the long view.”

Asked how long Marvin can keep its promises, given the potential for another recession, Jake Marvin, brother of company president Susan Marvin, replied by asking: “How long does that second recession last?”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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