Forget Growing: Lawton Ursrey Had to Shrink or Die

by Barry Moltz on April 12, 2010

Lawton Ursrey’s story is one that I have heard often. He started his career working with large corporations, making money, working hard…and feeling unfulfilled.  After his father died suddenly,  he decided to follow his passion and founded Indie Peace, a green clothing manufacturer based in Atlanta.

But Lawton faced a challenge that is becoming common today. When he found that his expenses exceeded demand for his products, he had two difficult choices to make:

1. Keep his employees, stay in growth mode and potentially go bankrupt.

2. Eliminate his employees and find another way.

Lawton made the unpopular choice.  He moved his business into a friend’s basement, saved on overhead and then was promptly picked up by Nordstrom last year.  He  replaced employees with unpaid interns.

He has also been redefining his own processes.  Indie used to give payment terms on their merchandise. But when Mark Shale, an 80 year old retailer and client of Indie’s went bankrupt last year, Lawton realized that it could kill his business if he offered terms.  Now, gets his cash up front, which of course also helps his cash flow.

Lawton credits his success to his passion. The company made an additional $15k last year just by Lawton traveling around and selling the shirts out of the trunk of his car. When he eliminated his four full-time office employees, he was forced to implement automation to fill those gaps. He uses Peachtree software to track his finances and inventory.

Lawton believes ‘you can’t change things, you just have to find a way to survive’.

Remember, many times the only way out is through!

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