Wall, Bullard receive SBA honors

first_imgNews Release span.heading4{ text-align: left}p{ margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 1px}body{ font-family: “Times New Roman”, serif; font-size: 12pt; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal}Wall, Bullard receive SBA honorsJohn Wall, President, Wall/Goldfinger, Inc, Northfield, Vermont, has been named theU.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 2006 Vermont Small Business Person ofthe Year. Nominated by Richard Angney, Executive Vice President, Central VermontEconomic Development Corporation, Wall was selected for outstanding leadership relatedto his company’s staying power, employee growth, increase in sales, innovative ingenuity,response to adversity and contributions to the community.Wall/Goldfinger designs and manufactures high-end board and conference room furniturefor Fortune 500 corporations and leading financial and academic institutions including theFederal Reserve, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the New York StockExchange, CBS, Bank of America and Pfizer. Many of the important decisions of our timeare made around Wall/Goldfinger boardroom tables equipped with state-of-the-artcommunication technology.John Wall’s leadership is a model of innovation, integrity and sustainability,” said KennethA. Silvia, SBA Vermont District Director. “When his company came to a virtual standstillduring the aftermath of September 11, John managed to retain his employees and,working with them as a team, made an outstanding come-back during the recoveryperiod.”Wall/Goldfinger began with four employees in 1976 and by 2006, the number had grown to40. The original shop, a rudimentary 2,000 square ft. facility, had expanded into a 52,000sq. foot factory accommodating state-of-the-art finish applications, computer-controlledrouting and sophisticated wood machining and sanding systems. With the help of an SBA-guaranteed loan through Northfield Savings Bank, John Wall purchased MichaelGoldfinger’s share of the company in 1993 and led the company to nearly $7 million insales in 2005. Since its inception in 1976, the company’s resilience has been tested a number of timesbut never to the degree produced by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.Immediately following the attacks, corporate business in Manhattan and Washington, DCcame to a standstill. In 2002, U.S. contract furniture industry sales dropped from $12billion to $8 billion. While much of the business world gradually returned to normal, thecustom furniture industry suffered a second and even more dramatic setback. Theplanning cycle for new business had been seriously disrupted by the 9/11 attacks. With anaverage gestation period of two years for new projects, an even more dire business “hole”emerged in 2003. Wall/Goldfinger found itself at a critical crossroads. The company faced huge losses thatcould be mitigated by a reduction in manpower. However, Wall and the management teamconsidered the company’s skilled work force its only trump card. Losing employees wouldhave provided instant relief, but at what cost to the company’s long-range success? Walland the management team decided to retain the work force as long as financially possible.In many cases, employees were put on non-revenue producing tasks. Sales dropped 8%in 2001, rebounded 35% in 2002, and dropped again by 26% in 2003. The cost was greatto Wall/Goldfinger’s bottom line, capital resources and Wall’s personal net worth. However, the company concentrated on product development and marketing anddeveloped an interactive relationship with their top 100 architectural clients. The gambleproved successful as the market turned around in early 2004. With an experienced workforce in place, the company was well-positioned to seize new opportunities, and seizethem it did. Wall/Goldfinger experienced record sales in 2004 (up 43%) and by 2005,sales topped out at nearly $7 million. Wall/Goldfinger, Inc. offers numerous employee benefits including matching 401kcontributions, payment of over 95% of the total health insurance premiums, one-on-oneconsultations with a financial planner and continued development of employee skillsthrough the Vermont Training Program. The company has made cash donations to morethan 80 local organizations and, over the last six years, donated over 10% of its profitsback to the community. Environmental responsibility is another Wall/Goldfinger strength. For their work inredesigning a new finishing facility, the company received the Vermont Governor’s Awardfor Pollution Prevention in 2001. Later in 2006, the company invested in a recyclingsystem that reduces both pollution and the cost of heating fuel. The system pulls dust andwood shavings away from employees and stores the waste outdoors to be recycled into areturning stream of clean, heated air. As Vermont’s Small Business Person of the Year, John Wall will compete for the nationaltitle at National Small Business Week ceremonies in Washington, D.C., April 12-13. Mr.Wall will be locally honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) at aceremony presented by Vermont Business Magazine, June 7th at Burlington’s WaterfrontPark, 4:00-7:00 p.m. SBA also salutes winners of the 2006 Vermont Small Business Champion Awards,including National Winner Janet Bullard, Vermont Commission on Women: Janet BullardVermont Commission on Women, MontpelierState, New England Regional and National Women in Business ChampionJim KeyesCitizens Bank, BurlingtonFinancial Services Champion of the YearRobert JohnsonOmega Optical, Inc., BrattleboroSmall Business Exporter of the YearMark JohnsonWDEV Radio, WaterburySmall Business Journalist of the YearLaurie HammondTriple Loop Skate and Dance, ColchesterVermont Microenterprise AwardJohn B.Durfee and Lang DurfeeBethel Mills, BethelFamily-Owned Business of the YearMargaret FergusonMicro Business Development Program,Central VT Community Action Council, BarreHome-Based Business Champion of the YearSteve BrochuVermont Department of Labor, St. JohnsburyVeteran Small Business Champion of the Year# # #last_img