Bill Connor

The past five years have been rough, admits Bill Connor (Big50 1990) of Connor & Co., Indianapolis. It began with a client who didn't pay $200,000 he owed, which led to a legal battle. Three years later, Connor & Co. received its money, with interest. Then there was some growth that wasn't strategically planned, a vice president who was hired away, and a controller and a designer who both fell ill. “Persistence, perseverance, and passion,” pulled the company through, Connor says. He cut overhead by hiring a designer part-time instead of full-time, and the controller came back to work three days per week. Some positions were lost to attrition, and those people were not replaced. Connor also cut back on marketing, despite advice to the contrary. But he had a “loyal, strong client base, along with very professional existing staff.”

The company has renewed efforts in the window renovation niche it had previously shelved, and Connor has joined a peer review group and picked up some certifications. “I've recharged my batteries,” he says.

The company is still doing what he calls decent-sized jobs — “fewer jobs with better margins.” He has learned quite a bit from scaling back. “I thought I knew something [before all this],” he says, “but I've learned a lot in the last few years.”