Monday, April 05, 2010

The End Of A Three-Century-Old Firm

About four years ago before I purchased SBM, I sought out several entrepreneurs and asked advice about running a business. I wasn’t sure if I had the stomach to run a business. One entrepreneur said to me: “When you run a small business, you are always either six months from someone paying you a premium for the business, or six months from being out of business. This is always the case, no matter how well or poorly things are going at any given time.”
I thought of those comments this weekend when I read an article in St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Jaffe Lighting closing its doors. Jaffe was one of several companies SBM profiled in our January 2000 issue that focused on businesses entering their third century.
It’s hard to imagine the business no longer existing. It began as a hardware store back in 1892. The company survived the great Depression, two World Wars and numerous other trials and tribulations. When it opened for business, Benjamin Harrison was president of the United States. The company endured many obstacles over the years, but the recent economic downturn and housing crisis were too much to handle.
Just a few years ago, the company employed 45. Jaffe’s fate should be a lesson to all business owners. No matter how good (or bad) things seem to be going, there is a fine line between ultimate success and failure when it comes to owning a small business.
--Ron Ameln, SBM