Kathy Bray and Joe Denham of Denham Resources said sticking to the fundamentals of their business helped them survive the Great Recession.
Written by Frank Lopez
Editor’s note: The Business Journal is marking the 10th anniversary of the Lehman Bros. bankruptcy, and the start of the Great Recession, by featuring local small businesses that survived the ordeal. Here is one of them.
It can be a tough job to stay in business when your business is to find jobs for other people.
For Denham Resources, an executive recruiting, staffing, and human resources consulting firm in Fresno that was founded in 1970, the Great Recession hit the business, along with its whole industry, at a level never seen, even during previous recession periods.
“We’d seen downturns before — about every 10 years there’s a downturn,” said Kathy Bray, owner of Denham Resources. “I never saw such a precipitous drop in all the years that we’d been in business.”
Though Bray and her son Joe Denham, vice president of the company, said that they had heard rumblings of recession, they didn’t expect it to be as severe as it was. In fact, 2007 had been their best year for business.
Usually, during strong economic periods, Bray said that direct hires go up and temp hiring goes down, and during a downturn, temp hiring goes up, and direct hiring goes down. However, after the global meltdown, hiring for both was down across the industry.
Denham said he would speak to employers to try to find his clients work, and that employers would laugh and say that they were laying people off.
Denham Resources has always prided itself on its dedication to customer service and professionalism, and didn’t change its methods after the recession hit.
“We stayed the same and we stuck to our guns, and to our personal business ethics,” Denham said. “That helped us maintain the great reputation that we had before the downturn and through the downturn, while a lot of people might have been scrambling and doing interesting things to make it by.”
Bray and Denham said Denham Resources is the only local staffing company to survive the recession. Though they barely had enough business to survive through 2009, every year since has seen a slow but steady increase.
It wasn’t until 2017 that the business returned to its pre-recession levels, and that year turned out to be the best one in Denham Resources’ history.
Bray said that Denham Resources survived because they stuck to their business ethics, and had a loyal group of employees, and she advises any business owner to hang on to their workers.
“Try to keep your people. They are what help you get through it,” she said. “I think the thing that could help you the most is to keep your people, especially in an industry that is people oriented.”