By Don Shilling
The company saw a profitable year though corporate sales fell.
YOUNGS-TOWN — The region’s hottest software company has been cooled off by the recession.
Turning Technologies laid off 31 workers Wednesday, saying that its growth in 2008 was slower than expected because of the economic downturn.
Mike Broderick, company chief executive, noted that Turning Technologies added 48 workers last year because it expected sales to continue to rise at a brisk clip.
Sales rose to $30 million last year, which was a 15 percent increase, but the company had planned for a 30 percent increase.
The last quarter of 2008 was more difficult than expected, especially for the company’s division that sells to corporations, Broderick said. Many of these customers froze their purchasing budgets as the recession and credit crisis worsened, he said.
Turning Technologies has been a rising star for Youngstown for some time and is the anchor to the Tech Block that is being developed on West Federal Street downtown.
The company developed a system that allows students or corporate trainees to respond in real time to questions from a teacher or presenter using a small response unit or other handheld device.
Broderick and two others started the company in 2001. Now, Turning Technologies has worldwide sales and employs 135 after the layoffs.
The layoffs occurred throughout the company, Broderick said. He said he hopes to return some of the laid-off workers “fairly quickly” and others later on.
He said he is expecting revenues to grow 15 percent again in 2009, or more if the economy picks up.
The company’s sales to universities have not seen any slowdown and make up about 40 percent of total revenues, he said. Sales to corporations make up about 30 percent of total revenues.
The other part of the business — sales to local school districts — has seen some slower growth but hasn’t been hurt as much as corporate sales, Broderick said.
The company announced this week that it has hired John Wilson, formerly the dean of Youngstown Early College, to be the director of its newly created Education Foundation. Broderick said Wilson’s job will be to link schools that want response systems with available grants.
In 2007, Inc. Magazine ranked Turning Technologies as the country’s fastest-growing software company. It posted sales of $20 million in 2006.
Broderick said he remains optimistic about the future for Turning Technologies and described the layoffs as a “slight pullback.”