By: Howard Finch, Ph.D.
Professor of Finance
Brock School of Business
This year, Birmingham-based engineering firm Sain Associates celebrates its 50th anniversary. It is difficult for the average person to comprehend how rare this is, or to gauge the magnitude of impact that a long-lived small business can have on local communities. Here are some things to consider as we celebrate their business.
First, the Small Business Administration reports that in 2020 there were just over 31 million small businesses in the United States. From 1994 to 2018, about two-thirds of the small businesses created in our country survived at least two years. The five-year survival rate was just under half (48.8 percent), and the 15-year survival rate was 25.7 percent. So, for a local business to not only survive but thrive for half a century is both rare and impressive.
Second, small businesses create the majority of jobs in both local and national communities. About 99 percent of the firms in the economy with paid employees are small businesses, representing 40 percent of the private-sector payroll. Sain Associates employs over 60 employees in their Birmingham and Huntsville, Alabama and Pulaski, Tennessee offices. Those jobs don’t appear out of thin air – they result from project opportunities that create satisfied clients, from capital investments funding growth, and from value-creation through a diversified set of engineering-based services. While the firm currently employs over 60, the number of individuals who have been able to work and provide for themselves and their families over the past 50 years is significantly higher. As a firm with an internal ownership team, the economic incentives for both the firm and the employees are aligned so that as the firm grows and prospers so do opportunities for those individuals who work for the company.
Third, Sain Associates has been contributing regularly to local and national economic growth for the past five decades. Small businesses pay corporate state and national income tax, payroll taxes that support Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, property taxes that provide the majority of the funding for local schools, and their employees pay state and national income taxes, too.
Finally, it is noteworthy how much a successful small business adds to a local community. For the past half century, Sain Associates provided civil engineering services that promote and facilitate business development, traffic engineering services that improve the quality and viability of our roads, and surveying and construction engineering that result in safe, durable buildings and facilities.
Any small business success is worth celebrating, since the jobs, taxes, and economic contributions through the provision of local goods and services improves our quality of life. For a business such as Sain Associates to do so for 50 years is a phenomenal achievement that greatly enhances the quality of life for our community. Their success is our success!