Updated August 29 at 7:42am

Extreme thrift pulls firm through downturn

By Harold Ambler
Contributing Writer
Precix Inc., a manufacturer of O-rings and seals for the automotive, aerospace and energy industries, experienced the recent recession earlier than a lot of businesses, and got out of it earlier, too.

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FASTEST-GROWING & INNOVATIVE COMPANIES

Extreme thrift pulls firm through downturn

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Precix Inc., a manufacturer of O-rings and seals for the automotive, aerospace and energy industries, experienced the recent recession earlier than a lot of businesses, and got out of it earlier, too.

As a maker of parts for autos, Precix started to recover from the Great Recession in 2009 when it, along with the car makers, got a kick-start from the federal Cash for Clunkers program.

CEO David Slutz said the New Bedford company’s downturn started in April 2008, before the financial collapse began getting lots of attention. Slutz took over as CEO in June 2009. “When your CFO walks into your office and says, ‘We need to declare bankruptcy,’ and I said, ‘We don’t have enough money to do that,’ that gives you a picture of where we were,” Slutz said recently, noting that bankruptcy filing requires pre-payment of many costs.

Instead, Precix cut back. It shrank its workforce from 300 to 195 employees and cut work hours. “We’re stretching payables, head count’s down, we’re not buying anything,” Slutz said.

Today, four years later, Precix employs 352 workers, and has been growing for nearly the last four years. The turnaround began, according to Slutz, when people started replacing aging vehicles in summer 2009, some through Cash for Clunkers. At that point, he said, inventory was burned off and cars in use were getting older.

“Cash for Clunkers started it, but it was simple supply and demand to keep things going,” Slutz said. “We got so lean that all of a sudden it was, ‘How do we manage this?’ ” •

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