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2020 Industry Anecdotes

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Highlighting Our Favorite Anecdotes

As we wrap up an unforgettable year, it’s important to reflect on how the industry handled 2020. Through our monthly polls and a special form, we invited industry professionals to weigh in with their own anecdotes of COVID disruption over the course of the year. This month, we compiled our observations along with your stories into a new publication, 2020: A Retrospective. The themes we picked up on were stories of the industry pivoting, adapting and accelerating growth in response to challenges. Unfortunately there simply wasn’t room for all the stories we received. Here are some of our favorite anecdotes that we had to leave out:

Pivoting Anecdotes

  • “Having to send a majority of personnel home to work during this time proved to be challenging. However, it brought to light the age old debate on ‘can we be efficient?’ It was very clear that the newer-age-thinking individuals had no issues working from home, were just as efficient (if not more) and found peace in that work/life balance. The older-age-thinking individuals had difficulty adapting and complained things could not get done if people were not physically in the office and being seen doing work. Leadership has to step up to the plate and realize that this pandemic really shows that if you cannot Pivot, you will Perish. Think outside the box, give employees the opportunities to find that balance (obviously by job description as not every position can do this. But at the same time, be a company that does not shy away just because of that), use your meetings wisely and stay in constant communication with your teams.
    “By doing this you not only open yourself up to enhancing your current employees mindsets and lives, you also attract the younger generation that is looking for this in a career. By not doing this, you risk losing valuable employees who see and adapt to the Pivot, and understand that thinking you have to physically have someone in the office is a very archaic way to run a business. Those employees eventually find something that will suit that efficient work style and will be gone quickly.”
  • “My company was not calling back in after I was furloughed so I ended up changing to another company. I had almost 5 months of furlough and am very happy to be working again.”
  • “Our owners were able to classify us as essential communications workers which exempted us from closure according to our state’s policy. This kept us open during the lockdown. They were also able to get the government’s PPP loan to keep us going for two months. Since opening to phase 3, sales have been robust. We are one of the lucky ones that had no layoffs or furloughs.”
  • “I’ve been furloughed since May because of COVID-19. Still waiting to be called back to work but haven’t heard anything from them yet. It’s very frustrating not knowing but I was specifically told not to call them, that they will call when ready to bring me back. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I need to start making some serious decisions very soon.”
  • “My advice? Learn to pivot. Understand that positions that can work efficiently remotely should be utilized. Adapt to the scenarios that sales does not need to be in a brick and mortar to do the job. Same with admin and operations. The documentation, files, ERP’s, databases, are all online now and can be accessed via anywhere. Someone does not need to be in the office to access information any more. Reevaluate and possibly downsize the physical office for employees that must do the physical work all while staying effective and efficient with remote employees as well.”

Adapting Anecdotes

  • “I took advantage of time out of the field. Did a ton of on-line training. Got my Fiery Pro Certification and Idealliance CMP Master. When customers finally did open, I tried to visit everyone to PM and update firmware.”
  • “This is a difficult time for business. Techs are afraid to go on-site or are wanting hazard pay. Customers are making demands like coming after five so no one is around the techs while in their office. There are a ton of challenges to adapt to.”
  • “The industry is evolving away from the typical office setting of offices full of employees, a lot of telecommuting is on the horizon.”
  • “As a wide format tech, when the first wave hit, many construction and engineering firms stopped working, or ran on a reduced staff and schedule. That reduced the need for wide format techs. My company furloughed me for 7 weeks.
    “In the late spring my company brought me back, because my territory is so far from the home office, that it was putting a strain on home office staff to cover for me. The branch I work out of is a 4 hour drive from the home office, and some days I will drive 3 to 4 hours to get to a service call. To have a tech from the home office drive 7 or 8 hours to service a customer takes that tech out of his territory for 2 days or more. Since there still isn’t a full workload in my territory, I have been sent to help out in other territories. One month, I spent over 2 weeks in hotel rooms to help out in other territories. I also do deliveries of print jobs and supplies to our customers, since my branch’s delivery driver is still furloughed. My job has changed a lot because of COVID, but I do like being needed, and the variety that is now part of my day to day working situation.”
  • “It may not be until fall, but things will bounce back. There will definitely be more people working from home, and a significant amount of people on the move as well. The business model, especially in Downtown areas, has undoubtedly been shaken, but our economy has the flexibility and innovative spirit to bend but not break.”

Accelerating Anecdotes

  • “I hope and expect that industries and companies will get back to something approaching normal in the late spring or early summer of 2021. When they do, their machines will need service, after sitting unused, or barely used, for so long. Some machines may even need to be replaced. Both of these things will be good for our industry, and those of us who still have jobs, or who get jobs in our industry.”
  • “Due to our company’s wide territory and the fact that much of our customer base is considered essential, a substantial number of our customers remained operational during the height of the pandemic.
    “Our executive operations were very proactive in managing government and financial continuity contingencies, resulting in no furloughs or layoffs. While many of our administrative and operations staff worked remotely, we kept our customers satisfied and sales are again building in reasonable fashion.
    “We are extremely fortunate for the foresight, planning, and actions of a cutting-edge organization, driven by true visionaries.”
  • “2020 was a year like no other, though we can learn from it. We have learned to WFH more efficiently, contact clients in new ways, listen to new needs/goals which were never there pre-COVID. 2021 shows a lot of promise with the vaccines coming out and people wanting to work more efficiently – from home or office. It will likely get off to a slow start though if we use what we have learned from 2020 we can make 2021 much better.”
  • “Between the owner and the new director, we not only are surviving, we’re thriving. I really got it when we had a virtual sales meeting in April or May and the owner said verbatim ‘Some companies are going to use COVID as an excuse. We are going to use COVID as a reason to evolve.’ I can only imagine the owner and/or the sales director have utilized or reached out to your organization because we’ve hired more people – and good people – during COVID than we had in two or three past years combined. We are thriving and having a blast!
    “We’ve gone from being a single OEM dealership when I came to my company over eight years ago to adding two new OEMs. All that being added and we haven’t done anything different. We sell our brand. It sounds cliche, but everyone who works here feels that way.
    “Not sure why I’m going on here but hopefully you see my passion for this organization and if you had a sales rep looking for work who has a great track record and wants to work for a company with resources, yet is a great family owned company and portrays those values, hit us up!”

Looking for more industry anecdotes? Be sure to check out our 2020 Retrospective or browse our monthly poll archives!