Contributors to the COVIDContinuity website are known as Champions, as they provide their leadership, insight, and resources to assist other business owners in these challenging times. We will be featuring these Champions on our blog.
President, R3 Deconstruction and Demolition
How have you adapted your leadership style through the crisis?
Being able to pause and reflect has been a big thing for me. Slowing down allowed me to think about things and trust my gut on what to do regarding my business. Since this thing started, I always took the philosophy of doing what it takes to be the last man standing to help the business survive. I had to look at not what that looks like that day, but what will it look like in three months and then six months down the road. That was my focus as I ran my business.
For example, our projects are capital intensive when they start, and there is a lag in payment in the construction world. I had to plan strategically to be able to self-fund projects so we could begin to back up without assistance from the bank. Preparing for this was beneficial for us.
Describe a tough decision you’ve had to make since the pandemic started?
To be honest, compared to others, I was very fortunate throughout this crisis. I was able to keep a skeleton crew, and I never had to close. It wasn’t easy giving temporary layoffs to some of my staff, but compared to the issues I’ve seen other leaders in my community face, we were lucky.
One big decision I did have to make was regarding the acquisition of a new company. About a month before COVID, we were in the thick of things purchasing a company. It was hard deciding to go through with the deal not having access to legal and accounting firms because of the pandemic. Not knowing how the crisis would impact business and whether it was a good investment for my hard-earned money during a very uncertain time was a challenge. I decided to go through with it because I think now more than ever, I believe it’s essential for business owners to diversify.
COVID-19 has shown us that an entire industry can be wiped out for a time, if not changed forever. I know the construction industry has been beaten up, and by putting on an entrepreneurial lens, I can spread my wings and see what else is out there. Although there is a risk, with some of the right moves, it is smart to diversify industries if you have the opportunity.
How are you feeling?
This experience has been surreal. In the beginning, I saw a city completely emptied out. I could’ve driven safely on the other side of the road, that’s how empty it was. We decided to continue operating with a limited crew during the pandemic. I questioned if we were doing the right thing at times, and worried about the risk, but my staff was all there by choice.
The biggest take away for me in all this is a missed opportunity to unplug and take advantage of the beautiful things this slowing down could have brought. I have a deep respect for those experiencing sickness, loss, and loss of livelihood, and I know this crisis is creating different hardships for everyone. But, I was discouraged by the amount of complaining I heard and saw about being inconvenienced by things like restaurants being closed. We spent so much time complaining about the things we couldn’t do anymore, that maybe some of us missed out on the beautiful things that were happening as a result of this. When things slow down like this, we have a chance to take a breath, reflect, work on self-correcting negative behaviors, and we can make the world a better place. I hope people can take inventory of the things that really matter.
CommAlert’s Tim Carwell is a co-founder of COVIDContinuity.com. This website provides current and useful information, resources, and support to business owners and non-profits as we’ve navigated through the public health emergency. It is all available all for free. The CommAlert Group continues to support this movement and strongly believes that mutual aid is essential for organizations to survive and thrive during crisis.