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Market tremors cause real-world worries for Commerce businessman

The NicoNat Manufacturing Corp.

Vicent V of NicoNat.

Kai Ryssdal: From an auction house outside Los Angeles in an industrial hub of Southern California, we're going to take apart the real economy, one degree of separation at at time.

Step one is, quite literally, across the street. 2624 Yates Ave. in Commerce and a company called NicoNat. It makes office fixtures -- furniture, basically -- for retailers Nordstrom to Dolce and Gabbana. About 50 people there all of whom work for the company president, Vicent V.

Good to see you.

Vicent V: Good to see you, Kai.

Ryssdal: How is business in what you have to say is a shaky economy? How are you doing?

V: Well, as we all know, business has been a challenge for us in the last three years. It's been a great experience for our company to try to come out with new ways to keep alive and be profitable. More alive than profitable.

Ryssdal: But what does it say that you have to keep thinking about those new ways? Innovation is important and all that, but isn't there something to be said for being able to do business?

V: Our business depends on big decisions from the big retailers. if the retailers don't have the credit to open new locations, we're not going to be able to get new business.

Ryssdal: So were you paying attention when S&P downgraded the credit rating on Friday?

V: I have an addiction. I watch the market every day. We depend on those big decisions, so I do watch the market pretty much every day.

Ryssdal: What about your employees? What are they telling you?

V: A comment that I always make as owner of the business is, I'm worried about the business because it's part of the future of myself, my family. But the employees who work for us are also a family, so they worry about not being able to get their jobs secure, which is a challenge these days.

Ryssdal: I bet. Are you thinking about hiring? Are you confident enough in your business to go out and get more people on your payroll?

V: Our business being lucky with the customers we have, we just hired about seven to maybe 10 new employees in the last two weeks.

Ryssdal: So, that's pretty good.

V: We are promoting a few things besides innovating our company. We are promoting that everything we do is made in America, promoting that we are a green company that does not just see that part as a marketing tool. I see savings.

Ryssdal: As do a lot of companies, actually. Let me ask you one thing before we go. Are you confident, are you uneasy, or are you afraid? Where are you?

V: I'm a little afraid. We know what happened in the last few days with the market. It's bouncing, but that doesn't mean it will keep in that direction.

Ryssdal: Vicent V., he runs the company across the street from us here at the Abell Auction Company. It's called NicoNat. Vicent, thank you so much.

V: Thank you.

Vicent V of NicoNat.

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