The past 20 months have been the most unusual I’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s no wonder so many business executives and support staff have retired or moved on. We employ a small but effective team of journalists here at Ingram’s and we rely on outreach communications to reach our clients, patrons and prospects. We’ve never seen such a vast number of people gone from firms as we have since March 2020.
It’s difficult to fathom how so many organizations have pivoted and adapted their operations. Having covered so many of this region’s elite businesses through the years, I’m not surprised such a large number of organizations have done well, despite the challenges. It feels against the odds that companies could continue to operate, and in some cases, thrive, throughout the pandemic. Naturally, there are a number of sectors that had little chance to hold their ground. We’re sorry to see any businesses close.
What surprises me the most perhaps is how operations with heavy overhead, including leased space, could cash flow and meet their financial obligations. We’ve heard many stories of leniency from lenders, landlords, suppliers and others who have adapted to help in a variety of ways—it’s not easy to write a playbook for a pandemic.
I wanted to take a moment and thank companies for not only navigating these turbulent waters but supporting their employees in this era.
I’d also like to thank these companies for supporting their vendors and other businesses in the region. Ingram’s is among those fortunate to be operating. I remember sitting down with our team on Friday, March 13, 2020, attempting to outline a plan for moving forward. Zoom was not in our vocabulary at that time, but remote working was, and our tech team spent time leading up to this day preparing us to work remote. Some businesses can effectively do this. And, I suppose we could adapt, and to some extent we did, but I felt like we were firing on only two cylinders. Call me a traditionalist, but I came into the lonely offices and had installed a parcel drop and mailbox outside our door to receive mail and packages. No delegation of this task; owners of small businesses, especially, wear a lot of hats.
We eased back in cautiously, allowing essential staffers to return and are still wrestling with vaccination status. The bigger challenge being that older employees and their spouses are at greater risk of serious illness from COVID. We don’t want to see anyone become ill.
It’s time to staff up again, and the dynamic were feeling, as is everyone else, is a lack of qualified talent.
We’re back now, but with caution. Like other firms, we’re looking through a lens of how to build our team and culture while taking into consideration age and the need for folks to to earn an income.
What I’m describing is similar to the challenges most executives, managers and HR professionals are and will continue to encounter.
The Grass Isn’t Greener
Michelle and I drive across state often but rarely have we left the states of Missouri and Kansas in recent months. A couple weeks ago, we drove to Chicago by way of the Quad Cities and took in some of the lifestyles along the Mississippi. Upon arriving for the first industry conference since the pandemic, it was clear this was not the same Chicago we love. Many retailers along Michigan Avenue are gone. Restaurants, too. Vacancies are being filled in part by inappropriate tenants for that space. Even the cabbies have evaporated—70 percent of them—and one we had reminded us of Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman) from the sitcom Taxi. It was nice to get away for a few days, but we’re not interested in going back any time soon. St. Louis is similar, as are too many major cities.
We have several vacation rental homes at the Lake of the Ozarks. An interesting and unfortunate thing happened in March 2020. We were shelled with cancellations during that era of the unknown. Within six weeks, however, we saw a resurgence where reservations and occupancy rose to healthy levels. Two of our properties even had reservations throughout last winter. Regrettably, demand is down now that folks are able to travel more freely. Regional tourism is a priority of the states of Missouri and Kansas, as it should be. Most in this sector have done all right—as long as the destination has been outside of larger markets. Between the civil unrest, a flat economy and the ongoing threat of the pandemic and the variants, it’s been a challenging time for everyone.
So in a time of Thanksgiving, we would like to thank you for patronizing Ingram’s and advertisers for supporting our mission.
We’re pleased to include our 2022 Editorial & Planning Calendar in this issue. We realize organizations have a choice as to how and where they spend their marketing dollars. We appreciate the business community for enabling our team to serve businesses throughout our region.
Thanksgiving perhaps has more meaning in times like this, and on behalf of our family at Ingram’s Magazine, we wish you and your family and your colleagues a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving and holiday season. Our season’s best!