It has been a very long while since I have written a Bottom Line article and I would like to open with an expression of gratitude for all of our loyal clients. I hope that all of you have been able to cope with the challenges of the past year and that you are all staying healthy.
Over the last 12 months, we have certainly looked at our business from a different perspective. Our company is a combination of “bricks and mortar” facilities and home-offices. At the onset of the pandemic, our Washington office was the first to close and convert to 100% virtual with all other offices following suit a few weeks later. It was somewhat difficult for office mates to remain disconnected for several months until the return in mid-summer (although our WA is still 100% virtual). During the early stages of the pandemic, I would come to the office for a short period of time to get the mail or sign checks for our bi-monthly payables run. The office seemed very eerie without the familiar sounds of my office co-workers. It was truly a surreal experience in many cases – especially due to the unknown nature of the virus and what state mandates would come next.
On the other hand, there was a large segment of our staff that was less impacted by the temporary office closing as most of our technical and sales team members have been well accustomed to working remotely. I would say these incredible team members never missed a beat in spite of having to deal with other challenges like school closures!
That is not to say there were no operational challenges. As an example, quarantine requirements related to out of state travel certainly presented an additional level of complexity when assigning projects to our technical team members. In some cases, even a 40 mile trip across a state border could have triggered a mandated 14 day quarantine upon their return home. Our top priority was the safety of our employees and occupants of buildings we were inspecting. In many respects, conducting site visits on non-residential buildings became quite easy as most buildings were barely occupied during the early stages of the pandemic. Things became difficult for residential rental properties and we were challenged to be as innovative and precautionary as possible. We always found a way to get things done.
One thing that COVID taught me during the early stages was that we are all in this together – not necessarily in the “same boat” but definitely in the “same storm”. We had many clients from certain business sectors who were impacted much more than others, and we always made accommodations to help get them through difficult times. It was simply the right thing to do. Conversations with clients always started with concerns about the pandemic, family, health and welfare. I would have routine calls with clients not to discuss deals, but simply to make sure they were doing well. We genuinely cared about each other and in many respects, I felt closer to clients who have been with us for almost 20 years.
While there has been much uncertainty during the early stages of the pandemic, there was no shortage of compassion and genuine concern for one another. As we emerge from this terrible pandemic, let’s not lose sight of what it has taught us.
Since the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for so many families, we feel compelled to help. As such, we have decided to make donations totaling $15,000 to select food banks across the country in an effort to help those in need.