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Business leaders are bullish on 2014

Dallas Morning News

Lately, when I’m out and about, business owners tell me they’re poised for a really good 2014.

But they say it in hushed tones, as if they’re afraid to jinx their good fortune.

So I surveyed business owners and decision-makers, asking how the upcoming year is shaping up for them. Of the 75 respondents, 84 percent said they expect 2014 to be slightly better to way better than this year.

Nine said next year would be a repeat of 2013. In most of those cases, that would be hunky-dory since the last 12 months have been darn good.

When asked what gives them the most hope, most said there’s no place like home.

Many, including Bill Bayne, chief executive of Fish City Grill, said they have improved efficiency and invested in growth, which should make the year ahead a banner one. Bayne will open at least one new store in the next 10 months and has eyes on additional locations.

Pat Mitchell, Dallas office managing partner at Hunton & Williams LLC, said: “Clients have been sitting on the sidelines for a number of years, and many are deciding to address issues and opportunities that have been deferred.”

Jim Fite, president and CEO of Century 21 Judge Fite Co., is salivating. “With relocation transfers on the rise, and the merger of American Airlines and US Air moving to D-FW, our relocation professionals are expecting a record-breaking year in 2014.”

Angel Reyes III, managing partner of Reyes Browne Reilley, was one of only three people who expect a downturn in their business. And you have to love the reason: His mortgage-default servicing is declining as foreclosures drop.

“This is probably good for Texas homeowners but a negative to our top-line income numbers,” he said.

Nobody predicted that 2014 will be a washout, but this is still an anxious lot. Even the most optimistic are worried about monsters hiding under their beds.

Steve Ivy, CEO of Heritage Auctions, said he’s worried about black swans. When I asked him what kinds of unexpected terrors concern him the most, he said: “They wouldn’t be black swan events if I could identify them.”

The most oft-cited concern was dysfunction in Washington or, as Larry Friedman, managing partner of Friedman & Feiger LLP, put it: “narcissistic politicians.”

On Wednesday, I’ll have Part 2 of my survey, which looks at how these doubts are playing into hiring expectations.

Here’s what business owners and executives had to say when asked how they see their business shaping up in the year ahead. We’ve grouped them by their answers:

“Recruiting top talent. Our success depends on our ability to hire and keep the best of the best.”

JW Roberts, president of General Datatech LP

What gives you the most hope?

“The innovative nature of business in this country. We will always find a way.”

Hattie Hill, CEO of Hattie Hill Enterprises Inc.

“Job growth and Texas’ significant role in the nation as the ‘place to do business’ are making us the focus of all major corporate relocations in the country.”

Lucy Billingsley, partner of Billingsley Co.

“Energy independence and more American buying.”

Chris Curtis, CEO of GoVision

“The common sense of the majority of Americans will ultimately overwhelm the hypocrisy of government extremism/bureaucracy.”

John Goff, founder of Goff Capital and CEO of Crescent Real Estate Holdings

“Consumers are less apt to panic over bad news than they were before the financial crisis.”

Mike Hernandez, CEO of D&M Leasing

“People gotta eat.”

Mariano Martinez