Jenks Employees Help Owner Avoid Layoffs

Tuesday, March 3rd 2009, 4:44 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley and Terry Hood, The News On 6

JENKS, OK -- The falling economy has claimed its share of jobs here in the Tulsa area.  However, one business owner found a way to avoid layoffs.  How did he do it?

The big, high profile companies get the most attention when layoffs are announced.  But, smaller companies are also forced to face the same economic challenges.  A Jenks business owner didn't want to hand out pink slips and went to his employees for help.

It's another day installing decorative floors for employees of Renaissance Hardwood Floors, near 141st and Memorial.  Tom Nicklas has owned the company since 1982.

"This is the design we're doing and this is going to be a medallion that we're having laser cut," said Renaissance Hardwood Floors owner Tom Nicklas.

Nicklas has 32 employees working at job sites across Tulsa.  One crew right now is even in Houston.  Despite the busy schedule, he says, the economic downturn is impacting his bottom line.

Since October of last year sales are down by an average of 25%.  Nicklas' financial advisors told him big cuts were needed, meaning layoffs might be necessary.  But, Nicklas didn't like that option.

"I've got a couple of single moms with families and I've got some young guys that just got married with kids and I just didn't want to do that unless I absolutely had to," said Renaissance Hardwood Floors owner Tom Nicklas.

So, Nicklas told his employees to prevent layoffs each of them needed to take a 5% cut in pay and there would be no more overtime.  All agreed and no one lost their job.

"They knew that it was getting tight and I think that they were happy to do whatever it took to keep us going," said Renaissance Hardwood Floors owner Tom Nicklas.

"Large companies could also follow that same principle," said Kevin Kennemer with The People Group.

Kevin Kennemer is a human resources consultant and says what Nicklas did was remarkable.  He adds big companies could learn from Nicklas' example.

"So, it really is in the best interest of the employer to look at alternatives and other cost cutting measures before they were to lay off, that should be the absolute last option," said Kevin Kennemer with The People Group.

Nicklas says it was really a simple decision to do what's best for his employees.

Nicklas says he is reviewing the finances each month and when the economy turns around, he plans to restore his employees' original salaries.