Settling In: EFBCers Define Their “New Normal”

While the last two years have been a roller coaster for business owners, the members of EFBC have brilliantly forged their way through to the other side and we’re sharing what has led to their successes. At EFBC, one of our best practices is shared experiences. It’s how we approach forum, roundtables, even one-on-one conversations. So, sit back, grab a snack, and learn from your peers!

As a member of EFBC, you know how much we value our tight-knit community of family business owners and entrepreneurs. We decided to pull together a crowdsourced list of what helped our members keep pushing through the last 18 months. We asked some EFBCers to share one thing that helped ground them in these rocky times and proved to be invaluable throughout the pandemic. From a refreshed perspective on family time and daily devotions to video conferencing and Doordash, our members have a unique perspective to share as small business owners who make brilliant moves.

1. Loyalty takes the cake

I can’t do without long-term loyal vendors who do everything they can to keep you running. -Ira Lichtenstein, Sales Business Development, Richardson Seating

2. Schedule your breaks

In my new normal, I can’t do without scheduled breaks in the day for a walk outside or check-in with family. They are a tremendous way to break up long days of phone calls and meetings. -Ken Schack, Director, Licensing and Brand Development, Rico Industries, Inc.

3. Total tech disconnect

Turning the phone off, disconnecting and not feeling guilty. With remote work and wearing many hats, quiet, disconnected times have been invaluable. When I get back into the game, I’m more focused and more efficient. -Alex Argianas, Vice President, Argianas and Associates

4. New normal

Without a doubt, opportunities for our team to connect. We are remote by design, but COVID prevented us from being together. Now that COVID is waning, our new normal will be to have more virtual meet-ups to build camaraderie. They work! We have only settled for in-person meet-ups before, but the new normal will be us meeting up more virtually.  -John Kabance, President, BIOKINETIX

5. Carpe devotions

Each morning, I set time to think about the day ahead, the personal friends and family members who may need an extra prayer. I send good thoughts their way and ask for grace and patience to flow my way too. This is something I did a few times each week prior to COVID and feel that this daily reflection gets my head and heart set in the right direction for the day. -Deanna Salo, Managing Principal, Cray Kaiser

6. Forum Group

One thing I find invaluable is being a member of a forum group. I cannot stress enough the support, encouragement, and partnership I receive from my forum group. Forum is a place to express what is stressing you out and have a group of individuals really listen to your struggles and support you. You really feel valued and heard. You also feel like you are not alone in your struggles because most of the time there is someone else who knows how you are feeling. – Kim Schrader, HR Manager, Vaxcel

7. Family… and Doordash

A year and a half into the Pandemic, I’m still not so sure I have really settled in to the “New Normal”. I started the pandemic working from home with a 1.5-year-old daughter. I am now still working from home but with 3-year-old and 6-month-old daughters. My wife is also still working from home over zoom. As many have realized, the combination of two “professional workspaces” with what effectively amounts to a day care all under one roof has been quite the challenge. It sounds cliché, (yet also fits nicely into the family aspect of EFBC) but it didn’t take long into the pandemic to realize that family is the one thing I could not survive without in this “new normal.” Oh… and Doordash. Can’t live without that either. -Max Jacobson, Director of Strategic Development, Covenant Services Worldwide

8. Take care of your people, and they’ll take care of you

When Covid struck, the future looked bad.  I had many sleepless nights and had to change my business’ operating model. My employees flexed and matched my determination to survive and thrive. We worked together to remodel Oil Express, and we shared ideas. I didn’t make unilateral decisions except for a few safety rules, and we grew as our business added customers while many competitors closed or cut hours. I’m flush with great employees who now anticipate my moves. I rarely have to direct people, customers are happy, employees are excited and our bottom line is strong. The one thing I learned is that we can take care of each other and create loyal leaders and business success in the face of imminent danger. People matter most, then all good things will happen. -Art Lutkowski, President, Oil Express

9. An agile evolution

Agility. As we approach the “new normal,” one thing is clear - the ability to adapt, and adapt quickly, as a business is key. From transforming hiring practices, hedging against supply chain uncertainty, or re-evaluating traditional sales channels, a company’s ability to move away from “the way things have always been done” and change course quickly, will be a looming factor in business longevity. -Romit Soni, Chief Executive Officer, United Scientific Supplies

10. Zoom supremacy

Video conferencing! I was introduced to Zoom by my kids and the EFBC.  Our forum met on Zoom and I “attended” EFBC committee meetings and learning or social events, as well.  My husband and I participated in virtual happy hours with friends near and far. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that I could enter into meaningful and genuine relationships with others due to video conferencing, but that has happened. While I certainly LOVE in person events, I know that I definitely LIKE video conferencing and it’s used enough to make it a normal part of my life! -Melanie Kuhar, Owner and Operator, Grind to a Halt

11. Ready, set, reset

I've found a renewed focus on family time is invaluable. Ever since I started my company in 2005, I'd been traveling over 50% of the time, and even when not on the road I often spent late nights and many Saturdays at the company, especially in the early years when it was one obstacle after another to overcome. During this period from conceptualizing the company, taking the plunge, then getting through the start-up phase and eventually becoming an established player in our industry, my three daughters grew from small children to super busy high school students and then, one by one, started going off to college. In March 2020 the hectic pace came to a screeching halt. My company is a manufacturer that supplies the medical, defense and transportation industries so we never shut down, but I was home every night and not doing any weekend work because our business had slowed considerably at the time.  We re-connected as a family and had a lot of time together, which at least for me, really reset my relationship with my daughters and my wife, who had been carrying an undue share of the activity management on the home front over the last 15 years. Now my daughters have all moved out of the house and we are empty nesters (a year later than originally expected, which was a great year). My business has also now gotten very busy again, however, the reset, and renewed refocus on family, has continued because the last 18 months have re-oriented my priorities and outlook permanently. -Doug Thurman, President, Sunrock Ceramics

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