Top leaders’ economic insights: ‘Expensive,’ ‘unprecedented,’ ‘value’

Emily Thomas Kendrick, chief executive officer of Arrow Exterminators; Pat Flood, regional operating partner of Supreme Lending Southeast Region;

Credit: Composite photo

Credit: Composite photo

Emily Thomas Kendrick, chief executive officer of Arrow Exterminators; Pat Flood, regional operating partner of Supreme Lending Southeast Region;

Everyone who has a payroll to meet is trying to gauge the way the economic winds are blowing. For this year’s Top Workplaces roundtable, we asked the leaders of our three top companies to share briefly what they’re seeing.

Emily Thomas Kendrick

Arrow Exterminators

“Like you and I see personally, everything is more expensive.

“One of the big buckets we talk about is our vehicles. We’ve got thousands of trucks, and, for a long time, you couldn’t even get a truck. When we buy a new company, we usually replace the fleet. We like to make sure our fleet stays looking good. Once we were able to start getting trucks again, they were a lot more expensive. Everything associated with them is more expensive. Literally, every line item across our company has gone up. Last summer, in August 2022, fuel was up $6 million additional. It was substantial. We are having that across the board.

“For a while, what you read in the newspapers was we’re looking at this sort of a soft landing from a recession point of view. I’m like, maybe yes, maybe no. Who knows? With the bank situation recently, I think a soft landing is probably only something we could hope for. We talk very often that we’re very lucky to be a family-owned and -operated business. We’re not subject to quarterly numbers. We like to look at things long term, and we’re really lucky for that. The planning has been underway for several months for the fiscal year 2023-2024. We did a lot of acquisitions this fiscal year, and we’ll still do several acquisitions next year. But we’re going to pare back just a little bit in 2023-24.”

Pat Flood

Supreme Lending Southeast Region

The word that best describes the U.S. economy today is ‘unprecedented.’ The economic happening since March of 2020, when Covid reached the U.S., has been indeed ‘unprecedented.’

“At first, rates went down to an all-time low. We lost 20 million jobs, and unemployment went from 3.5% to an all-time post-Great Depression high of 14.8% in 60 days. If employers stayed open, almost all workers and companies shifted to working virtually. Unprecedented.

“Housing surprised everyone by experiencing unprecedented demand and unprecedented home price increases; 2020-2021 set records for housing sales and home price increases.

“And then ... inflation surfaced in the U.S. economy for the first time in 50 years. The Federal Reserve responded with 10 consecutive rate increases starting in March 2022. Thirty-year fixed rates, taking their cue from the Fed, increased at the fastest rate ever and reached 25-year highs.

“Subsequently, housing sales have declined from ‘unprecedented’ highs to levels that are now ‘unprecedented’ lows.

“The consumer has seemingly weathered these unprecedented events relatively well. That said, there is increasing economic data regarding savings being depleted and credit card usage increasing, which suggests the consumer is at a breaking point.

“The good news … Covid, which was ‘unprecedented,’ is a thing of the past. Inflation is coming down, and it is likely the Fed will be increasing rates next year. I hope, pray, and believe that a ‘soft landing’ and return to a more normalized environment is just around the corner. We expect housing prices to normalize and housing sales to improve in 2024.”

Colin Creed

Cornerstone Christian Academy

For all intents and purposes, we are operating 100% like pre-COVID. Demand for faith-based education is at an all-time high. Having said that, we always do our best to be good stewards of everything entrusted to us. We believe we offer a fantastic ‘value’ to our families.

“The economy has affected our families in different ways. We have seen an increase in the amount of aid requested by our families. Thankfully, we have been able to serve those families by offering aid through the Georgia GOAL program.

“We are growing slightly. For years, we have been operating on a very streamlined staff. Thus, we’ve been trying to create a more sustainable long-term model.”