b'A RE W EN ACredit crunchsays Mike. They agreed to lend us about and Mike had proved itself to be a successful $1.2 million on the basis that we relinquished business venture.In the wake of the share market crash, theour first debenture to them.And it was then, once the business was steel merchants were intent on bringingDixon & Haddon became a capturedback on a sound financial footing, that they credit terms back from 90 days to 60. Dixon &market, and was probably paying a premiumbrought the high-performing and driven Jim Haddon was operating at closer to 120 days,to Steel & Tube, but the injection of capitalDenham into the fold as an equal partner.well outside the terms. After some to and fro,was sufficient for the company to get its head Fletcher made the decision not to deal withabove water and allow it to start operating the structural steel contractor anymore. Thatproperly. It took a year and a half to pay Steel left one supplier: Steel & Tube.& Tube back. Dixon & Haddon had a problem. MikeAnd the episode marked the beginningneeded to buy time to negotiate so he quicklyof Mikes friendship with Nick.directed Bob to bring as much steel into their yard as possible, enough to last the next threeBack in black months. They landed about $800,000 worth of steel before Steel & Tube woke up to what wasIt was now the early 90s, Dixon & Haddon had going on and put the brakes on.stopped bleeding thanks to Mike and Bobs We didnt pay any bills; we kept every bitefforts, and the company was generating good of cash we could, so we would have the cash profits. Over the next two years, they awarded to buy any piece of steel that we didnt havetheir team bonuses, which repaid them more but needed to get through while we negotiatedthan the 20 percent theyd sacrificed in wages. the deal, says Mike. It was a good strategy.That really earned the trust and the loyalty Nick Calavrias, Steel & Tube CEO of theof the team, says Mike. They always had it inAbove: Negotiating new credit terms with Steel & Tube marks day, convened a meeting. Nicks businessBob but that helped shore up my credibility.the start of Mikes friendship with Nick Calavrias (pictured).acumen saw the bigger picture. He wantedMeanwhile, the pairs credibility went upto help, rather than take the easier course ofwith the business community because it saw liquidating our business to recover the debt,what they had achieved. The team of Bob 55'