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It's a Stretch

Too small to take on big clients? Not enough big clients to grow? Unsnag your Catch-22 before business growth becomes a self-defeating concept.

This story appears in the January 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Hal Galvin recently got a huge order from a huge customer. So why isn't he singing "Happy Days Are Here Again"? Because he can't fulfill it. In fact, Galvin, CEO of AlumiPlate Inc. in Minneapolis, says the massive opportunity would require a $10 million investment--enough to generate 20 times AlumiPlate's current annual capacity for applying its patented metal-plating technology--if rolled out across the customer's entire product line. Without the big customer, however, Galvin can't afford to expand his 12-person plant enough to be able to serve such big prospects.

"It's a little bit of a Catch-22," Galvin understates. "You need the customer to get big, but you're not big enough to have the customer."

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