by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

We hear frequently these days the phrase… we’re all in this together. For many, these words offer encouragement, hope and unity. I came across an old quote by Jacques Cousteau that caught my attention. The French naval officer, scientist and marine expert once said, “The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.” Some today could easily replace the word ‘sea’ in Cousteau’s quote with ‘virus’ and immediately connect and find comfort.

I would offer that manufacturers are not all in the same boat. Manufacturers are in the same treacherous storm, and in the same unchartered sea, but each company is in a different boat trying to best chart and navigate to the other side. Like vessels at sea, companies are different sizes, serve different industry subsectors, and have varying structures and levels of business maturity.

Over the past six plus weeks, I have spoken with numerous manufacturing leaders. Each of these companies seem to have its own set of perceptions, issues, and needs. The primary reason is that people make up a company and people have been impacted differently during the pandemic. I heard about employees taking voluntary leave of absences to reduce their health risks. Others that
needed to be at home to attend to children with schools and day care facilities closed. Retaining employees, creating confidence in workplace safety and training new employees were discussed to varying degrees during my conversations. Also, there were varying degrees of concern, and anticipated potential impact on a company’s future workforce, expressed due to the extra unemployment compensation.

Manufacturers are also in different boats depending on pre-COVID business conditions and how the organization has been able to operate, or not, during the pandemic. Customer demand and ability to pay, supply chain readiness, and cash flow will present varying situations and challenges during the recovery period. Even the very start of the recovery period for businesses will be all over the chart.

For more than 30 years, the NWIRC has strived to be a trusted advisor and the go-to-resource and thought leader for small and medium sized manufacturers in northwest and northcentral Pennsylvania. While many variables and unknowns exist, and assurances are not plentiful these days, know that the NWIRC is here, ready and able to assist you, your employees and business. You can count on that! For those companies who have grown throughout this storm, we remain confident that our traditional services to help you plan strategically, strengthen your standing in the market and align products and services with new customers will continue. For those companies who need to recover before moving forward, we have developed a no-cost COVID Recovery Program along with our partners so that we are prepared and have the resources available to help. In addition to conducting a business assessment of each situation, this program will provide a cash flow analysis and develop a short-term tactical action plan tailored specifically to your business needs. We will help you identify and prioritize the actions needed to take the next step and will connect you to experts and programs to begin charting a new course as we begin to come into calmer waters. As part of the COVID Recovery Program, we seek to ensure manufacturers throughout the region will exit this storm stronger than before, perhaps all having gained some lessons which will help stay the course in the future. We understand not all are starting from the same point, but using situational fluency and responsiveness we will do our very best to help you grow and move forward into the new normal. You can count on that too!