Andy Brahms couldn’t be happier. On our stroll through his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., offices, the president of Armchem International checks in with his employees, sees the orders continually coming in and products shipping out. Business is good. Business is steady — so steady there’s room for growth. The company is evaluating three prospective employees to add to the sales team, which already stands at 80 people.

It’s a long way from the days of Brahms’ solo operation selling janitorial products out of his garage.

“I didn’t want anyone to work for me,” he says. “I didn’t have a desire to be in business and have people work under me. I liked the freedom of being on my own, not answering to anyone.”

But in the 30-plus years since Armchem International opened its doors, that attitude has changed — and today Brahms’ 140 employees include his father, mother, two brothers, son and even his longtime girlfriend, Melissa.

Armchem International has never been stronger and Brahms says he owes a lot of that newfound success to the recession. Most distributors would prefer that the Great Recession never happened as the economic downturn slashed revenues and closed the doors of many suppliers. But for Brahms, it was a wake-up call.

“During the recession I hit a brick wall,” Brahms says. “Accounts were dropping like flies through no fault of our own. I felt that if I just sat on the sidelines and didn’t invest, business would get worse.”

What resulted was an ambitious plan to increase sales and grow the company by expanding sales territory, hiring more reps and manufacturing its own private label products. As Brahms’ smile when he talks indicates, it worked.

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Lead Generation In A Bad Economy