Pandemic-Related Hardships Hit At Different Times, Businesses Press On
As COVID-19 cases lessen and a sense of normalcy creeps back into our lives, now is an excellent time to take a deep breath and reflect on all of the changes that have occurred. More vaccines are rolling out by the day, and many businesses are on the road to recovery. Regardless of your industry and how much of an impact the pandemic has had on your business, there were certainly lessons to be learned throughout the entire business community.
Early on, as measures were put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, businesses were classified into two categories: essential and non-essential. The definitions of “essential” and “non-essential” varied slightly by location; but, in Ohio, any business that provided goods and services not related to healthcare and public health operations, human services operations, essential governmental functions, and essential infrastructure were either forced to close their doors or reduce operations.
During this time, many business owners actively sought out ways to pandemic-proof their businesses. As a result, businesses likely look different as the significance of the pandemic will have left a lasting impact. Read on to discover how some Ohio businesses took steps to outlast the coronavirus pandemic.
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A Pandemic-Proof Business
Throughout most of Ohio, building trades’ professionals were allowed to remain open. That was the case for many, including Kyle Young, president, Acoustic Ceiling and Partition of Ohio (ACP). Throughout the pandemic, those in the construction industry still saw their share of hiccups along the way and tried to anticipate any potential hurdles that could arise – like encouraging employees to show up to the job site in the midst of a pandemic.
“We were pretty fortunate that we were deemed essential, but with that being said we lost 30 percent of our workforce,” said Kyle, who explained that as uncertainty grew many employees opted to stay home. “We had to think of an incentive, such as giving a bonus to anyone who worked 40 hours. It almost brought me back to my military days of hazard pay.”
Financial incentives for frontline workers became common throughout a variety of industries, ultimately rewarding their employees for working during these challenging times.
As companies like ACP continued to operate, drastic changes and quick responses allowed for a good evaluation of where the business stands from a financial wellness perspective. As a result, many companies are very much aware of their operating costs.
“This really helped us button-up, from top to bottom,” said Kyle. “You look at all of your cash flow, receivables, payables, and start to look at those things a lot closer. Things that I worked on this year were a zero dollar budget, what is the bottom line here that will keep everything moving, and everyone employed. Doug Houser and the Rea team have been really instrumental throughout this process, really taking the lead with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the financials of all of this. Everything could stop tomorrow, and we would still be ready to go. If anything, this has really prepared us.”
Fortunately, for ACP, not only did they continue to grow, but the organization was also able to give back to the community.
“We were still going strong, and had a record year,” Kyle said, who noted that he was able to move forward with an acquisition during the pandemic and even took time to help build a church. “We really were able to jump in and help them get back on their feet.”
While ACP was able to navigate the COVID pandemic relatively unscathed, the business is now dealing with the fallout of ongoing closures and reduced workforces other industries faced.
“What we are seeing now are material shortages, long lead times, and really big price increases,” said Kyle. “We made it through one hump, and we are going to try to make it through another.”
While some businesses are dealing with the effects of the pandemic now, others had to navigate through uncharted waters early on.
Listen to episode 283, “Pulling Together Drives Business Success,” on Rea & Associates’ award-winning business podcast, unsuitable on Rea Radio.
‘New’ Is Not Always Bad
Providing fabrics for U.S. soldiers is a big part of MMI Textiles’ day-to-day operations. When the pandemic hit, Amy Bircher Bruyn, MMI’s president and founder, had to take a step back and assess what the future held for her business. The uncertainty of COVID-19 resulted in numerous questions for industries and business owners searching for advice – but with minimal resources available, time was ticking for a solution.
“The proverbial drinking from a fire hose is an understatement of what happened starting March 19,” said Amy. Through many conversations she had with advisors, clients, and government officials, Amy was able to identify an opportunity to shift her business’s focus to helping provide personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic.
“We had a surplus of inventory and were able to get fabric into the hands of people who wanted to step up and answer the call,” said Amy.
Collaborating with many industries, including military contractors, MMI Textiles had a great deal of in-stock fabric that could be used for PPE. Additionally, the company was also able to track down additional materials that would allow their clients to produce masks and reusable hospital gowns.
“They said you are our procurement side, and we’ll be able to step up and make the gowns, and that’s exactly what happened,” said Amy.
As COVID-19 continued to spread at a rapid pace, the pandemic exposed many businesses’ strengths and weaknesses, but it was also creating opportunities.
“Amy and her team worked so hard to make this a success, not only in respect to building their brand and business but more importantly to them, they used this as a way to give back. To ensure first responders and health care workers had the quality PPE they needed,” said Paul Gregory, principal, Rea & Associates.
“It was a lot of stress for our team, and we recognized that there were some holes that we had to fill,” said Amy. “We invested in a new manufacturing facility, hired a CFO and a director, and created a PPE division. We were really able to fireproof our business. A lot of good came out of this.”
Businesses continue to thrive in the current economic uncertainty, whether it’s expanding the size of their company or developing innovative and cost-effective methods of business.
“I have been working with MMI for more than 10 years and I continue to be amazed at the values Amy has instilled in her people and how they all have the same end goals in common. The fact that they not only survived but thrived in this environment, was not a surprise to me,” said Paul.
For additional information and insight into these stories and more, reach out to Rea & Associates at firstname.lastname@example.org.