The presidential election is just a few days away, but some small business owners are still struggling to decide who they will vote for. The Associated Press interviewed company owners from three swing states: Florida, Virginia and Ohio about the election, hiring and how their businesses are doing. Here's what they had to say:
NAME, PARTY AFFILIATION: Zalmi Duchman, Independent
VOTING FOR: Undecided
WHY: "I don't think that either are the real change that we did," says Duchman. "I think I'll decide when I'm at the booth." It will be the first time the 32-year-old has voted in a presidential election. Four years ago he says he was too busy launching his business to vote. Eight years ago he says he was young and didn't care. He's voting this year because he realizes the election may affect his business. "I saw the light," Duchman says.
BUSINESS: FreshDiet.com. customers receive three fresh meals and two snacks daily that are low in calories, carbohydrates, sugar and sodium. The company is based in Miami, Fla., but has kitchens in several cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and ships nationwide. Duchman started the company in 2006.
HOW WAS BUSINESS FOUR YEARS AGO: It was growing and booked about $3 million in revenue.
HOW IS BUSINESS NOW: FreshDiet.com had $30 million in revenue last year, and is growing this year.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU PLAN TO HIRE IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS: About 20 to 30 customer service and kitchen employees. FreshDiet.com currently has about 200 employees.
WILL YOU CHANGE HOW YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS DEPENDING ON WHO WINS: "I don't think so," says Duchman.
NAME, PARTY AFFILIATION: Jai Manselle, Undeclared
VOTING FOR: Obama
WHY: "I'm not a huge fan of Mitt Romney," says Manselle. "When it comes to certain issues he seems to go with what the popular opinion is. He seems to be changing himself to what his party needs."
BUSINESS: Manselle Media, a brand development and public relations firm in Newport News, Va. Manselle started it in 2007. Its clients are mainly in the sports, fashion and music industries.
HOW WAS BUSINESS FOUR YEARS AGO: "It was a new business," says Manselle. "We were very optimistic, but I think everyone was nervous about the recession."
HOW IS BUSINESS NOW: After the initial year, the company has seen year-over-year double-digit growth.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU PLAN TO HIRE IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS: About four or five graphic designers, writers or sales people. Manselle Media currently has seven employees.
WILL YOU CHANGE HOW YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS DEPENDING ON WHO WINS: "I haven't seen anything that makes me see any big shifts," says Manselle. "I came to this during the worst economy of my time, so we're used to being scrappy. If we feel something needs to change we'll adjust it at that time."
NAME, PARTY AFFILIATION: Lawson Nickol, Undeclared
VOTING FOR: Undecided
WHY: "I watched all of the debates, but I don't think that gave me the information I need to know," says Nickol. He plans to spend the next few days before the election reading about each candidate's plans for Medicare and Medicaid, and then make a decision.
BUSINESS: All American Clothing Co., which makes blue jeans in the United States and sells them on its website, AllAmericanClothing.com. The company, based in Arcanum, Ohio, also sells sweaters, jackets, shoes and socks that are made in America. Nickol founded the company in 2002.
HOW WAS BUSINESS FOUR YEARS AGO: It was growing, and continued to grow 60 percent in the next four years as more Americans sought products made in the U.S., Nickol says.
HOW IS BUSINESS NOW: Up 30 percent from last year.
WILL YOU DO ANY HIRING IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS: Yes. The company bought its first factory in Ohio and plans to start using it to make jeans within the next couple of years. Nickol says he doesn't know how many people he will hire yet. All American Clothing Co. currently has 11 employees.
WHAT WILL YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS DEPENDING ON WHO WINS: "I don't think my business will change drastically," says Nickol.
Joseph Pisani can be reached at http://twitter.com/josephpisani