In early 2009, two members of the three-person management team at Repp Construction, in Orchard Park, N.Y., approached president Chris Repp with a proposal that the team take a pay cut to help the company ride out the recession. Repp has an open-book policy with Dave Olejniczak and Nicole Gremmel, vice presidents of production and operations, respectively. The trio share responsibility for leading the company, and clients benefit, too, Repp says, “because three people are keeping their eyes on where to keep costs down and where to save.”
“When ... we had cut all we could, [the VPs] said, ‘Maybe we should cut a little deeper,’” Repp says. They wanted the money as a cushion for operating capital. The three took a 10% pay cut. Repp agreed to the plan only if Olejniczak and Gremmel tracked their hours so he could compensate them when the financial situation improved. “I let them make the judgement call on when it would be flipped back,” Repp says. Within nine months, the company had built up a backlog, and at the end of 2009, Repp gave the VPs a bonus to show his appreciation.
The eight employees in the field also took a cut, but the team tried to lessen the hardship by shortening the work week from five days to four. However, to make sure the projects didn’t suffer, Repp staggered the schedule so he had crews working on jobs all five days.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.