David LeCompte
David LeCompte

WATERLOO - Short's Travel Management, like other companies, saw revenues diving and decided it had to do something.

The Waterloo-based travel agency, which books a lot of business trips, said dramatic cuts in its clients' business travel had hit the company hard, and it had to find a way to make ends meet.

So, the company asked its employees to forgo two weeks' pay over an eight-week period in June and July. It wasn't a furlough, though; all employees were asked to continue to work.

The company's plan was to compensate the 63 workers by the end of the year, with interest.

That payback happened Monday, as company managers informed employees that they would be getting their deferred pay back, plus 5 percent interest and an e-book, as a bonus.

Furloughs, a common tack among companies that need to scale back expenses, were not an option at Short's, said David LeCompte, the firm's chief executive officer.

"We had to maintain adequate staff to serve the day-to-day demands, but our cash flow was short," LeCompte said.

LeCompte said it was a "creative" way to keep the business running with minimal interruption.

"We knew we had a short-term problem," he said. "It slows down in the summer, and we wanted to make sure we had enough cash."

Managers were included, along with the rank-and-file employees, he added.

"It was across-the-board, and everyone took a similar amount," he said. "Some actually volunteered and took more days with the hope they'd get paid back with interest."

The plan worked, as revenues stabilized, and even increased by 8 percent, as of yesterday, thanks in part to a recent travel contract it signed with the state of Texas.

LeCompte said the company's outlook is brighter for next year.

"According to our preliminary budgets, we should be up 30 percent over 2009," LeCompte said.

Austin Lorenzen, director of account management, said the temporary cut in income was difficult, but employees came out ahead at the end.

"You always plan for the what-if, so we scaled back in the summer, and now, this time of year when you're spending more than you normally would, it couldn't come at a better time," Lorenzen said.

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