MANATEE COUNTY - Three days into a partial government shutdown, we see more of its effects here on the Suncoast. Overnight, one Manatee County company lost almost one-third of its business.
Hann powerboats has a contract to build boats for the air force. It uses them for target practice. But Thursday, an employee gets tools ready to go into storage, instead of ready for the next job for the Air Force.
“I think it's ridiculous.” says Russell Hann, the company's namesake. “It's unbelievable. It's very hard to comprehend. It affects my employees, it affects everybody's morale.” He says that the Air Force contract allowed him to expand the space he rents. “That contract goes away? That space goes away. I don't need it,” he says.
Hann says he loves doing business with the Air Force. It has made regular orders, worked smoothly with him, paid well, and paid on time. Last week, he got a call from his contact at Eglin Air Force Base. Give me a price on six boats, so we can get the money before the government closes, he said. Maybe the order went through. Hann doesn't know, and has no way to find out. “Literally we're talking to them one day. The next day they were shut down,” he says. “I didn't think it would be direct, nearly as direct, an effect as it is for us.”
The sequester made no impact on business, and did not expect the shutdown to hit him so hard. Now, Hann scrambles to find new customers in case he has suddenly lost a big one. Though he could see the shutdown coming, it doesn't make it easier to become a victim of it. “It's hard to believe that it's really going to happen, for the reasons that it happened: stubbornness, people just not wanting to give in,” he says.
If the shutdown ends relatively soon, that will limit the damage to his business. But if it persists, and he can't drum up enough new business to make up for losing the Air Force work, it could force him to cut back.