Bill Crutchfield's Troubling Thoughts about the 'New Economy'
By Bill Crutchfield, Founder and CEO of Crutchfield Corporation
Last October, I cautioned my 500 employees that Crutchfield might have to postpone the construction of a state-of-the-art, multi-million-dollar call center that we had planned to build this year near Charlottesville, Virginia. In my company Intranet message, I stated, "Although still in the minority, a growing number of people (myself included) fear that the economy may slow too much and fall into recession." Although I was in a very small minority eight months ago, I did see a situation that deeply troubled me. Recently, many people have asked me what I saw back in October that others did not see. It is a good question and deserves a detailed answer.
In the modern era, the railroad may have been the technological advance that had the most profound impact on mankind. In our country, it connected our coasts and opened the heartlands. After buying the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Thomas Jefferson thought that it would take 400 years to settle these new lands. The railroads made settlement possible in less than forty years. Also, the railroads created new financial instruments, led to government-private sector partnership through innovative legislation, transformed the science of military logistics, introduced "assembly line" construction techniques, greatly expanded interstate commerce by dramatically reducing freight rates and travel times, created thousands of towns and cities and produced unimaginable personal wealth. Also, during the 1880s, electricity and telephone service were making their way into some businesses and even a few homes. It was obvious to many at the time that these two exciting technologies would spread and totally transform the way people worked and lived.