Community worried about RIM's decline

A woman holds the a RIM PlayBook in Toronto, April 19, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

A woman holds the a RIM PlayBook in Toronto, April 19, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:55 PM ET

The mood is grim but not everyone believes as many analysts do that tech-gaint RIM’s end is near as residents come to grips with the BlackBerry maker’s negative numbers and massive layoffs.

“It’s not good. Look around here, everything is RIM. What happens if they fold?” asked Tim Kosi, a University of Waterloo engineering student.

He’s worried about his computer engineering classmates, many of whom count on the BlackBerry maker for jobs after graduation.

“They hire a lot of people,” he said.

RIM shares plummeted in the double digits Friday after posting a big quarterly loss and announcing 5,000 job cuts Thursday, as well as delaying the launch of the BlackBerry 10 operating system until next year.

But scratch the gloomy surface and you can also find a little bit of stubborn optimism on the streets - a belief that RIM, so much a part of this community, can’t fail.

“Around here, even as RIM fluctuates, a lot stays the same. I think things go up and down but they’ll go up again,” said Matt Lubberts, a general contractor whose company has built many of the homes and businesses that surround the RIM campus.

“RIM has no debt. This will hurt the economy a little, but we have two large booming universities. We’re not hurting as much as other places.”

Like many here, Lubberts has an opinion about what exactly went wrong for the once-formidable Research in Motion brand.

“They didn’t stick to the business side. They tried to tackle Apple, so they lost the business sector and that’s what they were good at,” he said. “They should drop the Playbook, stop doing what they’re doing and go back to basics. Do what works.”

When auto-parts manufacturer Budd Canada closed in 2008, putting 1,500 workers on the street, ‘for sale’ signs on homes started going up immediately, said Jack Fitzgerald, a real estate agent for Re/Max in Kitchener-Waterloo.

That’s not happening now.

“People that work have equity in their homes, they are responsible with their money and there are a lot of other jobs in the tech industry in Kitchener-Waterloo,” he said.

“I believe a rebound will come. I’m buying RIM stock.”

But other residents are worried the job cuts announced Thursday will have a trickle effect on the entire local economy, spiralling to erase secondary jobs and cut into everything from Tim Hortons sales to the real estate market.


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