From the Asbury Park Press:
The owners of Boyc Supply Inc., a 10-year-old plumbing supplier in Stafford, no doubt knew the housing market’s expansion wouldn’t last forever, but that hasn’t made it less painful now that the bad times have hit.
To survive, the company’s owners laid off two employees, reduced their hours on Saturdays and scaled back their inventory, all while waiting for the real estate market to show signs of life.
“I’m definitely concerned, but we’ve been here 10 years, so you’ve got to take the bad times with the good times,” co-owner Scott Maloney said.
Boyc Supply is one of dozens of businesses at the Shore caught in the downturn of the once-hot housing market. They include retailers, banks and interior decorators, and all are taking steps to survive what, at best, can be considered a rough patch.
Their plight demonstrates the wide reach of New Jersey’s residential real estate market and serves as a reminder that good economic times don’t last.
“You can’t sit back and think you’re the best and everything is going to come to you,” said Richard Hopkins, owner of Freehold Movers, a moving company based in Manalapan. “It’s good when there’s a little bit of slowdown. It awakens you.”
Hopkins said Freehold Movers’ business has declined about 10 percent from two years ago, and its workforce has fallen from 25 to 20. But he thinks the company can maintain that employment level since it didn’t go on a hiring spree when times were good.
Companies tied to the housing market could be forgiven for not being as optimistic; the housing market is in a slump.
The National Association of Realtors last week reported the median price for an existing single-family home in the region that includes Monmouth and Ocean counties was virtually flat from the same time last year.
And the home construction industry is getting hit hard. The number of permits for the first six months of the year in Monmouth and Ocean counties is down about 25 percent from the first six months of last year, according to the New Jersey Builders Association.
By itself, that wouldn’t be a concern. Residential construction, for example, represents less than 2 percent of all jobs in New Jersey, according to a 2003 report by the National Association of Home Builders, a Washington, D.C., trade group.
But housing ripples throughout the economy. New home owners pay lawyers, insurance agents and utility companies. They hire interior decorators. They buy furniture. The builders’ association in 2005 found a typical 100-home development in the United States generated $16 million in local income and created 284 jobs.
The economy also is affected when home sales decline, said Joel Naroff, an economist with Cherry Hill-based Commerce Bancorp.
“You look (at the home you bought), and it’s the ugliest wallpaper you’ve seen in your life,” Naroff said. “A lot of people within a year start to upgrade and change around houses that they bought . . . It’s not as extensive (as a newly built home), but you do have changes that affect local suppliers.”
Movers. Ideal Way Movers Inc. in Lakewood saw business decline by as much as 30 percent, and it laid off about five employees, or 20 percent of its workforce, owner Baker McColley said.
The company keeps its expenses low. For example, it owns its building, McColley said. But to stay afloat, it cut back on advertising and began bidding on government work.
“I’m worried about it, but we’ve been around 66 years, so we’ve been through the tough times,” McColley said. “We’ve weathered a lot of tough storms over the past 66 years. We all hope it’s going to change. If you don’t buy a home, you don’t need me.”