Like many businesses, Western Pipeline Utilities Construction in Palisade says it saw a major slowdown in business this year, forcing the company to make tough choices and lay off more than 20 employees. But just months later, it says things have turned around and layoffs are a thing of the past.
Bob Ballantine, owner of Western Pipeline Utilities Construction, says it's one of the hardest decisions he's ever had to make.
"About April we had three big contracts pulled and I had to lay everyone off," said Ballantine. "You're screwing up people's lives."
With his business at rock bottom and no new work coming in, he and his remaining office staff decided they needed to do something.
"We made a commitment that we were gonna put these people all back to work on our payroll again," said Ballantine.
So they developed a new business plan -- work harder to secure contracts for services they already offered and broaden the scope of their business.
"In this kind of economic slowdown, we spread out, we brought in new technologies," said Ballantine. "We offer a lot of extra services now."
So now, just months after making phone calls to tell his employees he had no work for them, he gotten to call them again to tell them something good.
"We've since hired everyone back," said Ballantine. "I have a great team here, they know what they're doing. We lined out the plan and executed it and there was never a doubt in my mind."
Ballantine says business is now booming -- so much so, that the employees he rehired aren't enough to keep up with the new work.
"It paid off better than just bringing our employees back," said Ballantine. "I have eight new people and when we're done we'll have 16 new people."
"It's a blessing that these guys hired me," said John Evans, one of those new employees. "I'm so grateful."
Evans is starting with Western Pipeline this week -- the first time he's worked since January when he was laid off from his job on the rigs.
"It's been tough," said Evans. "A lot tougher since I was used to making what I was making in the fields to having to really, really budget myself."
He says he couldn't believe he found a company that was hiring, and really couldn't believe it when they offered him a job.
"I was excited," said Evans. "I was excited because I have child support, a truck payment, insurance, the typical day-to-day."
Ballantine says he's just as excited that he's been able to help out people like Evans. But even with all the business calls coming into the office these days, he knows it's still going to take hard work to keep them coming.
"It's not something where we can sit back now," said Ballantine. "We've got to continue to beat the bushes - just trying to get our value added solutions to be broad enough that we don't ever have to go through that again."
Ballantine says the company is set to add a new corrosion prevention service later in August that will require a new crew of four people. He says more new services and jobs will be ready to go in September.
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