Lasting Impact

Last blog—of the year that is. So I have spent most of the weekend thinking of how to accurately describe this year and capture the lessons it taught us. Can anything really do that? I doubt it, but I am going to try. I am writing here of the pandemic in general because far too many people have had their health, or that of their loved ones, affected. Far too many have watched loved ones wage and lose a war against it. I am sorry for all these losses. Those of us still here have aged more than a year since last December.

What COVID has is the extraordinary ability to simultaneously blow up and vaporize much of our lives at the same time. Simple things—like watching a little league game on a warm summer night, grabbing a meal with friends, celebrating Thanksgiving with family—all exploded and evaporated, leaving us only with the memories of what we couldn’t have.

I think back to the shock I felt in March when the first basketball games, the NCAA and professional ones, were cancelled. Such shock would barely register now. Some days, it felt like the only certainty was the sunrise, and there were a few days I even had my doubts about that.

COVID has made us learn by practice the lessons we already knew in theory. We learned not to take anything or anybody for granted and to remember the true meaning of holidays like Christmas. COVID made us think more about driving to our families than how they can occasionally drive us crazy. COVID stripped us bare, back to what was really important.
And COVID, I think, gave us all a sense of perspective we might not have had before. It’s turned perspective inside out. For example, I found myself thinking over the weekend how lucky it was that my Mom was in the hospital fighting for her life last year and not this year, because we would not have been allowed in the hospital this year. And though our family has always been together for Christmas—none of us have ever missed a one—this year we will be zooming into Mom’s house instead of driving there. The important part is the being together, even if it’s virtually.

I’ve admired the glass industry since the first week I came to work for it, but at no time have I admired it more than this year. Time and again, I have seen companies and individuals reconfigure and reinvent themselves to meet our new reality. The resilience and the adaptability of our industry’s leaders as they reinvented, reconfigured and reformulated their companies is not something I will forget. And the dedication of the industry’s workers, who modified and readjusted schedules to work from home, to be their kids’ teachers, to keep their families and their co-workers safe, to put out extra effort to produce what was selling in an effort to make up for what was not. You have all been phenomenal in extraordinary times—and this includes our talented team here at KMR who have been amazing through some very challenging times.

Our customer relations manager, Janeen Mulligan, got into the spirit last week, right down to her toes.

Throughout this year, I have kept two quotes close. The first was from a calendar page left on my desk by our customer relations manager Janeen Mulligan on the day in March when we sent everyone to work from home without any answers as to how long it would be for. The quote was from Proverbs and it said, “Blessed is the man … whose leaf does not wither” and it reminds me every day not to let any of our leaves wither.

The second is an adaptation of a quote from former Intel CEO Andy Grove. He said: “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.” Judging by what I have seen this year, we have a lot of great companies in our industry.

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Happy holidays and a happy and healthy new year to you. It is, and remains, an honor to work for you.