Summertime, when the livin' is easy, is an opportune time to save money by juggling work schedules -- especially if your company is on the rocks.

In the early 1980s, McCreary Tire and Rubber Co., a $35-million tire manufacturer in Indiana, Pa., was losing money; the recession in the automobile industry had dampened the company's sales of passenger tires. So McCreary implemented a broad range of cost-cutting measures, including a summer furlough system.

Under the system, one-third of the company's approximately 400 production employees were "laid off" on a rotating basis every week. Each group thus worked two weeks, then got a week off with full unemployment benefits. The revolving lay-offs lasted throughout one summer. During that time, productivity rose, absenteeism fell, and on-the-job injuries decreased. The plan was a key part of an overall belt-tightening scheme that gave the troubled company enough leverage to move away from passenger tires and into the more stable truck and specialty tire market.

"The payroll savings helped us through a tough time for the company, and kept everyone in a job," says Linda Steel, McCreary's personnel supervisor. "We've been notorious the last few years for losing money, but now we're a profitable firm."