riparian rap

Little River rides the economic roller coaster.

Or better, the bobsled.  This figure is from a recent report by the National Federation of Independent Business (via Andrew Sullivan’s blog and the Economist).

With strong encouragement and financial support from my wife Kate, I expanded Little River Research & Design in mid-2007, growing from a home/garage business that was doing very well (for 17 years) to a nice building in Carbondale with three professional staff.

Our mission was simple:  Make wonderful educational tools nobody else would, and make a decent living at it.

You might say we couldn’t have picked a worse time.  The market dropped soon after and collapsed in the fall of 2008.  Kate and I saw the value of our savings plummet even as we needed cash to keep young LRRD going through the recession.

We had a front row seat for the economic meltdown.

Budgets of our river model clients, universities, schools, NGO’s,  were cut.  At many institutions, funding has dropped nearly 20%.  Though educators loved them, our Emriver Em2 models were dropped as budgets were slashed.

I haven’t paid myself since 2007.  Thanks for taking up the slack, Kate.  And to people who’ve helped in other ways, like this and this.  And for the strong support from colleagues at SIUC.

Things are looking better now.  We’ve sold an Emriver Em2 a week for the past five weeks.  We will deliver a couple of Em4 models this year.  I’m covered with consulting requests, and we’re collaborating on several grant proposals, including a big one to NSF.

It’s been tough.  But the phone rings constantly now, and it’s always something interesting.  We’re working with several museums, and have models at universities all over North America, and soon will be exporting Em2 models.