Thank you for your informative column [“Alas, top processors, we knew thee well”]. It seems the column was geared toward large firms and you're right, those operations should keep fighting until they can either restructure or sell their operations.
However, for the smaller company I respectfully disagree with your statement, “Companies cannot always see the writing on the wall. No one wants to admit that the end is near; it's much better to keep fighting.”
As a former owner of a small injection molder (sales of $6 million) I chose to cease operations in January 1997 rather than keep fighting. The handwriting was on the wall: If I did not close the firm our creditors were going to.
I did not want to face more than 70 employees and tell them we didn't have the cash for their paychecks. Those decisions are not easy. I was closing a family business that was nearly 60 years old, but in the long run, I believe it was the right one.
A smaller company doesn't have the options of a larger one. The smaller enterprise is usually dealing full time with production and customer issues and when their bank and other creditor relationships become strained they may not have the personnel or time to deal with these demanding issues.
If after taking a hard look in the mirror, the owner can't truly convince himself the business will survive, then maybe it's time to stop fighting.
Skutch Co. Ltd.