Not long ago, Craig Lapp made his living driving a truck that helped carve Southern California’s soil into new developments. But then housing sales slumped, and in November 2007 Lapp’s construction company let him go.
While he searched for another job, Lapp began working alongside his wife, Lynne, in a business based in their Temecula home, selling nutritional supplements made by the direct-sales company Isagenix. Nearly two years later and with no construction job in sight, Lapp says a one-time sideline has become the couple’s bread and butter.
“It’s paying our mortgage, our car payments … putting food on the table,” says Lapp, 55, who adds that he and his wife are earning a six-figure income. “It was our ‘Plan B’ that turned into our ‘Plan A.’ ”
Direct-sales businesses that rely on home-based representatives to peddle their wares are seeing their sales forces rapidly expand as the nation’s unemployment rate soars to nearly 9 percent and those who lost jobs and nest eggs look for new ways to make money.
“We’re recession-resistant in the sense that more people come to us during economic hard times for supplemental income or replacement of a lost job,” says Neil Offen, president of the Direct Selling Association, the trade group that represents the largest U.S. direct sales companies.
While 2008 industry figures aren’t yet available, “Anecdotally we’re hearing that recruitment is up and … unfortunately as the unemployment rate rises to 10 percent or higher, we’ll be picking up more people who need an income-earning opportunity.”
Logo from Isagenix