But there are some companies that managed to keep business running when times were difficult. And now that the economy is looking up, the tough stance some took is paying off.
"Over the years we've weathered the storm," said Melissa Benton, director of client services at Quantum Windows and Doors, Inc.
Quantum is an Everett business now reaping the benefits of the hard decisions made after the 2008 economic downturn.
At its height, the manufacturer of high-end windows and doors employed 120 workers. That number has been lower than the approximately 50 there today.
While the housing market went through a severe contraction, "We were letting go good core people," Benton said.
Now, Quantum has quoted and bid on more work in the past year than at any time during Benton's almost-10-year tenure.
Positive figures in the housing market mean some companies like Quantum can rehire workers. A few Quantum workers have returned and are once again helping to create quality products for homes, businesses and other buildings throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Quantum opened its doors in 1981 when two men, Paul Vexler and Herb Hulse, were looking for local sources to supply windows and doors for their construction business.
The product -- windows and doors made of mahogany, Douglas fir, teak, oak and other woods -- is made to an architect's or customer's specifications in Everett. Milling the wood, assembly, painting and staining and glass installation are all done at the workshop. Some oversized window projects require that glass be installed on-site because of weight.
Many custom homes fitted with Quantum doors or windows are those costing up to $5 million. But that's not always the case. The company's well-engineered products are used in smaller homes and business buildings as well.
Other changes at Quantum have included management, with new president Paul Humphreys coming on board in July and doubling his duties in a sales-director role. He says that what has partly kept the company going and able to keep the doors open is longevity.
"The bottom line is the company has been around for 30 years," Humphreys said.
"Our clients are intimate with who we are," Humphreys said.
During the past two years, Quantum has been hiring new sales people. The company has increased business in British Columbia, California and Hawaii.
Quantum's core product lines, the Classic and Signature window and door systems, can be found in upscale resorts and Pike Place Market, among other places.
Variation in design is a key feature, Humphreys said.
Staff members work with clients near and far, sometimes in challenging regions when it comes to doors and windows. From the Pacific Northwest to other shoreline climates where salt affects doors and windows, to high altitudes exposed to desert heat and ultraviolet light, they find solutions.
"Our products weather very well," Humphreys said.
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Quantum Windows and Doors 2720 34th St. Everett, WA 98201 www.quantumwindows.com