What Lies Ahead

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By Craig Ruppert, CEO

We are certainly dealing with some challenging times right now with the uncertainty, unrest and discord that exists within our country. All of this, combined with a turbulent economy, will make our path forward all the more difficult. We will continue to face changes in the way we work, live and interact with each other. As we begin the process of reengaging and heading back out into the world, I am grappling with the many unknowns, just as all of you are. But there is one thing I am certain of: challenges will arise, but each time one does, it presents us with an opportunity to learn, grow and expand in new ways. So while I am by no means holding myself up as the authority on how you should live your life or process the changes that are inevitably heading our way, I would like to share what I, personally, am focusing on as I reflect on the past few months and look toward the future…

  • We’ve already proven that we can adapt to changing times. In pretty short order, we have gotten comfortable with things like wearing masks, ordering groceries online and figuring out how to homeschool children. At work, we’ve adopted new safety protocols, gotten comfortable with working remotely and meeting virtually, and have come up with creative solutions for our team and our customers. We’ve demonstrated that as individuals—and collectively as a company—we’re capable of absorbing a lot information from many different sources, pivoting quickly, and responding appropriately.
  • By watching the pennies and being fiscally conservative, our company remains strong and well-positioned to weather turbulent economic times. Our goal has always been to ensure the long-term success of our company, enabling us to support all employees and their families now and in the future. Our more methodical approach to growth has been debated over the years. But for the exact situation we find ourselves in now, I am grateful that we didn’t need to go the route of many of our competitors and those in other industries who had to respond to economic contractions with layoffs, reduction in hours and pay cuts. I am thankful to so many of you for helping us stay the course over these many years so that we are not in a position to need the government assistance that many businesses are seeking.
  • There are a lot of good people in this world who are willing to listen, share and help when things get tough. That has been abundantly clear to me throughout the COVID-19 crisis with so many Americans stepping up to help at foodbanks, honoring our front-line health care workers, sewing masks and converting manufacturing operations to provide much-needed supplies like hand sanitizer and ventilators. I’ve seen it in our industry with competitors operating as allies with their sharing of information and ideas, and within our organization as every one of you continued to show up and do your jobs even with the uncertainty that was before us. There was anxiety, differing opinions, and many discussions at all levels as we addressed the challenges that faced us. I saw constructive conversations, the melding of perspectives and proactive solutions that were executed with empathy, fairness and respect. It made me proud of our team, and I remain hopeful for our country, that we will be able to come together to face our changing social and economic landscape.

Pictured right: Members of our Richmond South maintenance team recently donated and delivered meals to local hospitals

  • Reflecting on our core values and our connection to others can help sustain us in difficult times. You’ve likely heard the phrase “no man is an island,” attributed to English poet John Donne. It speaks to our need for the interconnectedness of all people. I feel that times like these really underscore our need for community—whether that be our families, our co-workers, our customers, our friends, or our broader society. Isolation can also leave us feeling adrift. By taking the time to refocus attention on our values, like fairness, inclusiveness, respect and giving back to others, we can hope to redirect our energy into the things that really matter.

What lies before us is certainly a unique and challenging time in our country’s history, and we will undoubtedly face new and difficult situations. By remembering what we’ve already overcome and challenging ourselves to learn, evolve, and engage with others in open and honest dialogue, we will emerge stronger and with a greater capacity to move forward as individuals, as a company, and as a society.