Time to plan for effects of U.S. recession, 'Business Lifeguard' tells SMEs

    "Small and Medium enterprises fill an important niche in our system and
    right now, they need help"

    TORONTO, March 12 /CNW/ - With the U.S. spinning into a recession,
executives at Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) are facing growing
anxiety on how best to prepare for the fallout.
    According to Norm Nopper, Director, Varanor International, a Management
and Training Consulting firm, Canadian companies should put plans in place
right now to deal with future economic challenges.
    Mr. Nopper has a 25-year track record in providing business strategy.
    In the past, he helped save jobs at Honeywell Canada and contributed to
keeping Magna factories globally competitive. However, being raised in a
family business environment he well understands the day-to-day concerns of
SMEs. He describes himself as a 'Business Lifeguard' who helps companies move
from "barely surviving to thriving."

    Here, according to Mr. Nopper, is what SMEs should do right now to
prepare for an economic slowdown:

    1. Keep an eye on manager-employee relations. This is the time when teams
       within the company need to stick together. Solutions lie in the teams.
       Start asking employees for help because "the answers are not in the
       corner office or boardroom - they're on the floor where the work is
       being done," Mr. Nopper advised.
    2. Don't shy away from tough decisions. Keep the company financially
       viable, but don't lay people off as the easy solution. Decrease costs,
       waste and inefficiencies. Employees will know where the waste is and
       will provide the solutions you need.
    3. Look for areas of competitive strength. Have your customers purchased
       from you based only on price? What is your customer looking for?
       Increase the value that you provide to the customer.

    "Small and Medium enterprises fill an important niche in our system and
right now, they need help," he explained.
    In the early 1990s, Honeywell Inc. considered closing its GTA factory and
shifting operations to a low-labour cost country. Thanks to initiatives Mr.
Nopper put in place, which changed aspects of the manufacturing processes, the
factory remained in Canada and he helped save 300 jobs.
    Mr. Nopper also guided Tesma, a division of Magna, in its goal to keep
factories competitive on a global basis.
    "Small and medium sized companies are the backbone of the economy," he
noted. "They play a key role in job creation and productivity growth."
    According to a Statistics Canada December, 2005 report, small enterprises
represent 97% of all Canadian businesses. Medium enterprises, between 50 and
499 employees, make up two per cent of the businesses in Canada.
    Visit www.normnopper.com

For further information:

For further information: To interview Norm Nopper, or for information,
contact Teresa Donia, iAMBIC Communications, (905) 508-5550, teresa@iambic.ca

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