Oil Spill's Ripple Effects Will Challenge Managers Nationwide

Last Updated May 5, 2010 6:05 AM EDT

A figure that's been repeated all week in oil-spill coverage is that Louisiana's fisheries bring in $2.4 billion. A chat this morning with Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board spokeswoman Ashley Roth revealed that is not the amount earned by local fishermen.

That number is really the total economic impact nationwide of the state's commercial fisheries -- and the nearly 27,000 job losses ahead if the state's seafood industry shuts down won't all be those of Gulf fishermen.

The Louisiana seafood industry's disaster will trickle down the line and spread far and wide. There'll be trucking companies that suddenly have no shipments, restaurants scrambling for other menu items, groceries that make fewer sales, jobbers that aren't needed to stock store shelves, prep cooks laid off because there's no shrimp to de-vein. Just when the economy seemed to start slowly grinding back to life, the oil spill's ripple effect will be a new, insidious drag on business for many. For how long, it's too soon to tell, but the forecasts aren't cheery.

The oil spill will come down to a million small management decisions that'll need to be made. Will it make sense to pay higher prices and sell some of the remaining local seafood? Should another seafood source be found, or menus changed? Is it time to lay off some drivers, or could another account be found with other shipments to fill in the schedule? The oil spill will test the ability of managers across the country to think on their feet, trust their gut, and make quick decisions.

This scenario also brings up the whole issue of disaster planning, and how few companies do a good job at it. Even companies that don't see an impact from the oil spill could use this as a wake-up call to finally get around to constructing a thorough disaster plan to smooth out bumps like this one in the future.

Photo via Flickr user kg18pisces

  • Carol Tice

    Carol Tice is a longtime business reporter whose work has appeared in Entrepreneur, The Seattle Times, and Nation's Restaurant News, among others. Online sites she's written for include Allbusiness.com and Yahoo!Hotjobs. She blogs about the business of writing at Make a Living Writing.