Local firms feel the squeeze: Power Curbers sending some workers home for two weeks as owner meets with Bush

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Sam Wineka
Dyke Messinger is hoping the U.S. House of Representatives will pass the economic bailout package today. His business depends on it.
Messinger owns Power Curbers Inc., a manufacturer of curb and gutter machines in Salisbury. He, along with other members of the National Association of Manufacturers, went to Washington this week to try and sway members of Congress to pass the $700 billion package. Messinger’s U.S. customers are having difficulty getting loans to purchase equipment and aren’t placing orders. The manufacturers group met with President Bush on Thursday morning.
“We went to the White House to listen to the president and listen to his view on the economic stability package,” Messinger said. “He was also seeking information from us about how’s our business and how the credit crisis has affected us.”
Messinger told the president his situation at Power Curbers.
“We don’t have any U.S. sales because our customers don’t have financing to buy new equipment,” he told the Post. “Banks are very skittish right now, and they’re not loaning to each other. We’ve decided we have to lay off two-thirds of our work force starting next week because we don’t have any U.S. sales.”
Power Curbers will lay off about 40 workers for a two-week period. They will be able to go back to work after that. Messinger said all workers not part of the two-week layoff will have to take a few days and up to a week off.
Before the economic downturn, between 70 percent and 80 percent of Power Curbers’ business was from domestic orders. Now, it is down to about 60 percent. Power Curbers hasn’t had a U.S. order in six weeks.
“There’s probably banks that do have available funds, but lots of businesses have relationships already established,” Messinger said. He said the meeting with the president went well.
“He’s passionate about passing the legislation,” Messinger said. “He’s laid out with no uncertain words that it’s critical to the economic stability of our country.”
Messinger also met with Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) and Rep. Virginia Fox (R-NC) in the afternoon. He said they were not as passionate as President Bush.
“We’ll see how they vote,’ he said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty. The legislation has changed a bit.”
Even if the bill passes today, Messinger thinks that it will take a couple of weeks before his customers could get loans and be able to finance equipment from him. He said it would probably be about 60 days.
“If we could get that,” he said. “We’d be happy right now.”