While the government shutdown is officially over for now, Mark Liston, president of Glass Doctor, looks at Washington, D.C.’s antics with a skeptical eye, saying it is not helping business.
“I read that the government went back to work at least until January 15 when we’ll do this dance again … hopefully not,” he says. “How do we relate to this? The debt ceiling is more $16 trillion. That’s trillion with a ‘T’ … not a ‘B’ and certainly not an ‘M.’ Our debt ceiling has been raised 42 times since 1980—when it was less than $2 trillion. Let me ask you a question. How many raises have you had since 1980? I’ll bet it’s not been 16.
“… Consumers, once again, were scared of the economy,” he continues. “As soon as we start to come back, something happens that frightens consumers again. Stellar … Last month, I was in Washington, D.C., going to Capitol Hill to fight for small business with more than 400 franchise executives. I believe most people in D.C. have no idea what it is like to own a small business. I also believe they couldn’t effectively run your business or mine.”
Small businesses can’t do things such as “shutting down,” Liston stresses.
“We have to figure out how to work through things,” he adds. “We have to listen. We understand there are deadlines and we have to meet them. We understand there are things called budgets and we have to control our spending to adhere to those budgets—otherwise we, personally, don’t get a paycheck. It doesn’t matter what our race is or our religion or even our political affiliation. We have to work through tough times and walk out with a plan.”
The auto glass business does not need to add the government’s antics to the list of challenges it is already dealing with, Liston notes.
“The auto glass business has had enough issues in the past 18 months,” he says. “Let’s hope that someone is listening and helps us put more confidence in this economy. We have jobs. We want to hire more people. We want to increase our business and pay more taxes. We aren’t afraid of hard work. We are part of the American enterprise system. Let’s hope that we have representatives that remember we put them there to help us and we start running our government like we have to run our business. It just makes sense to me.”
As for the impact of the shutdown, some just are not sure yet, according to Bernard Markstein, chief economist for Reed Construction Data.
“It may take a while to sort out its effects,” he says. “It [the shutdown] has done a lot of damage along the way. What has passed is a short-term solution and we have not solved anything. We have kicked the can down the road.”
The government now has three months to figure out a budget and hopefully raise the debt ceiling.
“So this could all happen again,” he points out. “Being somewhat optimistic, I hope that doesn’t happen.”
The shutdown called a halt to recalls by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA). It also meant there was no federal work on highways and no federal monitoring of gas stations.
However, Bob Beranek of Automotive Glass Consultants says the shutdown has not impacted the auto glass business.
“I don’t think that the shutdown or the re-opening will make much of an impact of the volume of business [in the AGRR industry],” he says. “If the government defaulted, however, I believe that it would have thrust us back into a recession, which would have influenced the market. Thank God the politicians came to their senses and did what was right.”