In 2015 when I took over the reins at EMCS Industries we learned very quickly…
I’m sure at some level we can all agree that we were ‘comfortable in complacency’ up until the end of 2019. A lesson learned, so never again, because wow that hurt!
At the beginning of 2020 I was on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, I left on the 19th of January for an off the grid three week re-charge, no contact with the outside world at all. Cell phones, TV, Newspapers were out of bounds.
At the resort where we stayed, we were right next door to the cruise ship terminal, it was so rewarding to see one or two cruise ships arrive and leave every day, with almost all of them relying on our MARELCO™ anodes to keep them fouling free. Ten days into our vacation, suddenly there were no cruise ships at all. I thought it must just be a scheduling thing and remained oblivious to what was happening outside of our self made bubble.
On the 9th of February after a terrific vacation, oblivious to world events, we headed home relaxed and ready for what I believed at the time was going to be a record year. What we were about to discover, was that yes this would be a year like no other, one we would never forget!
Reality really sunk in on the 10th of February as the gravity of this COVID 19 situation took hold and I watched in horror as our marine industry of passenger vessels, and especially the cruise industry, sat in the eye of the storm. Even then we had not fully grasped what was ahead, but the optics however were unbelievably bad.
The impact thereafter came thick and fast. In three weeks, we watched helplessly as our orders were cancelled and our entire industry grind to a halt with many vessels completely stranded at sea. Around the world we saw the same thing happening to almost every industry.
We saw the incredible response by our healthcare workers and healthcare institutions around the globe. Front-line medical teams experiencing unprecedented stress as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.
As our healthcare heroes were under extreme pressure, teamwork became both more important and more challenging. Numerous examples of cooperation appeared in the healthcare workers response and businesses began to respond in the same way. People were working together in the crises like never before, and there was a willingness to cooperate that forced all to ignore previous disagreements and tackle a shared purpose.
The first 8-10 weeks of the COVID 19 wake up call were defining moments for business. I am not going to pretend to know what others were doing, but in our orbit of customers, suppliers and our own response, we discovered a commitment to cooperation and teamwork that was unprecedented.
Decisive action had to be taken, we were pushed into creative corners that our complacency had caused us to ignore. Our company values drove every decision we made, especially with our employees who are and always will be our number one focus. Without them we cannot be what we aspire to be for our customers and suppliers.
Our values ensured that even though a record number of orders were cancelled, that we needed to be the type of supplier that found every possible way to partner with customers to help them navigate the nightmare with us. We needed to communicate to our customers and suppliers to remind them that we were in the same situation and that, like the healthcare workers, collaboration and working together respectfully was the only way through this. I believe we achieved that.
What had the makings of the worst year ever has resulted in so many positive changes and great progress. The lessons forced on us by the COVID 19 pandemic have been too many to mention, but with our incredible team, our valued customers and suppliers who partnered with us, together we have made it through the worst of it. We will continue without complacency until we are fully back to normal.
Looking at the big picture, never before has the entire world had to face the same horror at the same time. We were saddened watching countries shut down but inspired by the populations staying the course with so many acts of kindness. We learned from each other; the whole world had a common purpose. Yes, there are always those that don’t seem to be able to think beyond what’s good for them, but they are the minority. Even they might learn that we are stronger together than going it alone.
There is no doubt that survival of a business is not possible without the sacrifices and commitment from everyone associated with it. So, this pandemic is no different for humanity; sacrifice, commitment, and collaboration is the only way to speed up our recovery.
To the families around the world who lost a family member, friend, or colleague due to the COVID 19, we are sorry for the devastating loss. There is no silver lining to any of this when you have lost someone close to you. I am sure though, that the human spirit was (and will be) evident through these times of grieving, as it will be critical to the world in making a recovery.
To all our employees, customers and suppliers, your resilience is admired. Against all odds you have prevailed through the use of creativity and collaboration. We are with you in any way we can be to resume normal operations. Our ‘comfortable complacency’ has gone, we are finding new ways to be better than ever and part of the solution. Thank you to all of you.
We can find the positive in everything if we look for it, so yes, I can say that the pandemic has a silver lining of hard lessons and hard knocks that have built character. Personally, and in the business.