December 17th, 2020
As the holidays approach and 2020 winds down, I reached out to industry associates and asked them what one word they would use to describe 2020. The answers I received were “uncertain, unbelievable, isolated, confused, transformational, volatile, stolen, exigent, adaptive, evolutionary, arduous, fortunate, prosperous, exhausting, and unforgettable.”
Yes, I remember in March when the virus first surfaced. I can remember feeling uncertain. “What would be the impact on our health, the economy, my business, and our way of life?” Then, I can remember thinking how unbelievable it all was. “Is this really happening? Or, is the press just blowing things out of proportion?”
I started asking others, “Do you know of anyone who actually has this disease?” Then, there was the essential vs. non-essential designations. Restaurants and bars were ordered to shut down their dining rooms. My adult basketball league was cancelled, church services were conducted online, and we were ordered to wear masks in public places. I felt isolated.
Part of me understood that these steps were necessary. However, after hearing about so many friends losing their jobs and the resulting depression that ensued, I felt confused. I pondered, “Are these orders doing more harm than good?”
Then we made adjustments. Life became transformational. Zoom calls substituted for on-site meetings with customers. Automobile travel and RVs replaced any airline travel that was previously planned. Going to Home Depot and remodeling the home replaced flying to Florida and basking in the sun on the beach. Rescuing a dog at the pound and taking her for walks with the wife replaced going to the gym, donning ear buds, and watching the TV screen from the recumbent bike.
Then, there came the protests. Pent- up people started protesting the business and entertainment shutdowns and pent- up people protested racial injustice. All of the sudden, city streets became extremely volatile.
Vacation plans were canceled and gatherings with friends put on hold. Visits to the nursing home to see mom were forbidden. No touching allowed–maybe just look through the window as if you were in prison. Precious moments with each other were stolen. Now with the vacation plans put on hold, budgets were diverted to home repair and remodeling. Stressed out and insecure people were moving from the cities to suburbs and rural areas. New homes started selling faster than builders could replace them. The fenestration industry suddenly exploded with new business and unexpected growth. Yes, we were very fortunate.
A year that previously was feared to become disastrous suddenly turned out to be prosperous. With demand suddenly going through the roof, and skilled labor more difficult than ever to find, window and door companies had to become adaptive by improving output and productivity. Automated equipment was installed, and production lines were restructured to space out employees thereby improving safety for those on the job. Those that did not adapt experienced outbreaks which forced shutdowns thereby allowing competitors to pull ahead. This outcome could be described as evolutionary. With demand at peak levels and production crews stretched to the limit, manufacturing became (and still is) exigent, arduous, and exhausting.
But perhaps the one word that sums up all of these feelings in a nutshell is unforgettable. Like it or cannot wait to leave it, I think everyone will agree that they will never forget 2020.