Chemicals Supply: Lauren Hunker, Ecolab, Eagan, Minn.

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Lauren Hunker

Lauren Hunker

Unfortunately, we know things will not return to a pre-COVID state when the calendar flips over. Next year we will continue to face existing challenges along with still outstanding unknowns.

This year, companies learned how to conduct business differently literally overnight, and with that resilience and creativity in mind, they can find success in 2021. Now is the time to brainstorm and create a plan to pursue innovative approaches to grow your business with an emphasis on value and people.

The first area of focus for the upcoming year is how you can grow and succeed through your value. Your customers are also facing unprecedented challenges, and it is more important than ever that they have the confidence that their linen is one thing they do not need to worry about. Continue to execute on your value that has been established by providing consistent quality accompanied by supportive customer service.

Additionally, by remaining knowledgeable of your customers’ concerns and changing needs, you can identify creative approaches to serve them and differentiate your business. Also, remember the importance of capturing and communicating the value you deliver to your customers to reassure them that you are their best partner.

Secondly, your plan should identify how you can grow and succeed through your people. Strong teams are essential to operate efficiently, meet customer needs and propel the company forward.

Your team should be built with business goals as well as company principles in mind, and all personnel should be aligned around those objectives. Identify ways to energize and motivate your team by encouraging collaboration and constructive relationships as this can help center a team around a common purpose and facilitate new ideas for success.

Textiles: Timothy Voit, Thomaston Mills, Wyncote, Pa.

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Timothy Voit

Timothy Voit

A few years ago I attended a hotel trade show where speaker after speaker outlined graphs showing consistent straight-line growth for the industry and their company going out 10 years or more.

I remember shaking my head at the time at the notion that somehow favorable conditions would always remain constant. I thought to myself, “Didn’t we all live through the 2008 crash?” Little did I know when the clock chimed midnight this past New Year’s Eve that 2020 would make 2008 look like a minor disruption.

When making a plan for 2021, we all have to remember that sticking to your core mission and values while improvising creatively is the key to succeeding in a chaotic environment. We have more bumps ahead, I am sure, while we navigate the end of the health crisis. However, we are preparing for green shoots to appear and to seize them as they sprout.

As a domestic manufacturer, we believe our core capabilities will be very attractive for both hospitality and healthcare markets looking to have a more secure and environmentally responsible supply chain moving forward.

We have made some key hires from some competitors who have shed large amounts of staff. Investing in talent is a key step to recharge growth. Another is to take a look at your key human and physical assets on hand and to consider how these can meet the new demands a post-COVID world will make.

Finally, I would be realistic about the first quarter of 2021. “Hygiene theater” will not prompt large amounts of new travel until a vaccine is widely distributed or some other method is found to contain or treat cases.

I will close with some advice my mother would say that I can really now appreciate: “Keep your knees bent.”

Equipment Manufacturing: Bob Fesmire, Ellis Corp., Itasca, Ill.

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Bob Fesmire

Bob Fesmire

I think it is safe to say that everyone I know both professionally and personally is ready for a do-over year. While I am certainly among these people, it is important to remember these times going forward.

When business is good, it can be difficult to push oneself to really dig into issues, personnel, product or service. When the tide goes out, however, many things are revealed that were either ignored or never seen during better days.

I have spoken to many owners and executives this year about their businesses. Most, if not all, have suffered to varying degrees. Yet, many operators tell me that they were really able to discern things about their business. For example, what accounts were truly profitable and those that were not.

It is hard, rather, it is impossible to predict things but being prepared and knowledgeable about the “hows” and, more importantly, the “whys” of your business keeps you better prepared for whatever is around the corner.

Understand what you are really good at—what makes your business a success

Understand where you make money and, more importantly, where you do not. If you need to jettison a line of business or a difficult customer, do it now.

Do not make emotional decisions in times of crisis.

Always, always, always look for good talent—they are all you’ve got and

Treat them how you want to be treated

Thank you to ALN for the chance to contribute and thanks to the readers. I hope my contributions this year were helpful. Feel free to reach out to me anytime [email protected] or Linked In.

Stay safe, enjoy what you do and be successful!

Miss the look ahead from commercial laundry and consulting services experts in Part 1? Click HERE now to read it!