Bad Boy lays off employees as revenue drops

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 5, 2009

NATCHEZ — The four-wheel drive buggy business isn’t what it used to be.

As a result of the national economic downturn, Natchez’s own Bad Boy Buggies is seeing a decrease in consumer spending and a subsequent drop in sales.

“We’ve had to hunker down,” company CEO Jody Foster said. “We’re starting to feel it.”

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Foster said fourth quarter sales for 2008 dropped 30 percent, and resulted in substantial revenue loss.

“For 2008 we’re down several million in our gross sales,” he said.

In 2007 the company, opened in 2003, generated $22 million in revenue.

And that loss of cash translated to changes at the company’s headquarters.

Foster said the company was forced to lay off 30 percent of their Natchez workforce, including managers and laborers, bringing the number of those working at the company down to 20.

Now Foster, and others at the company, are looking for cost cuts anywhere they can be found.

“We’re going line item by line item,” he said of the examination of the company’s budget. “We’re even looking at the thermostat.”

Additionally, the high cost of shipping has caused the company to relocate most of its manufacturing needs from China and back stateside.

Foster said the company is now only using Chinese labor for two components of their off-road carts.

And Foster was not surprised by the hit the company took.

“This is a luxury item, or a toy,” he said. “And when money gets tight it’s one of the first things to go.”

A Bad Boy Buggy costs approximately $10,000.

But while times are hard, Foster’s spirits are high.

Foster said two new buggies to be released this year should help to boost sales.

One is an improved version of the baseline model, and the other is a more simplified version for around $7,000.

Foster’s also hoping tax breaks for electric vehicles outlined in the stimulus package will help his sales.

“As challenging as it is now, there is a lot of opportunity out there,” he said.