What are we doing to support our customers, employees, and what can manufacturers do to support us through the pandemic? On last night’s AVNation panel with Heather Sidorowicz of Southtown AV, Tom Berry of Verrex, and Jay Rogina of Spinitar, hosted by Tim Albright, we shared answers to these questions. The group discussed common challenges and solutions, and as we go through this crisis will do so together. Here are my takeaways:

 

How do we help? We must take care of our employees foremost and have remote staff and field teams taking precautions and working where they are needed. Customers are asking us to work in some areas and less in others, and we are adapting to varying site access and a range of guidelines in each state, township, and job site. This inconsistency can disrupt policies and procedures in ways that require us to be more flexible than ever. We want to continue to deliver critical infrastructure and communication tools to our customers, as it is the best way to return to a new normal. We are built with flexible teams; it is ingrained in our culture.

 

Our customers are the heroes of this story. Network and emergency operating centers, healthcare systems, higher education, utilities, food distribution, finance and governments are all ensuring our communities stay healthy and as functional as possible. Organizations have to be set up to serve in times like these, and relationships within the industry are what will pull us through. 

 

How will we come out better? The value of our networks, associations, and partners during this uncertainty is more important than ever. We rely on NSCA, PSNI and AVIXA for research and platforms like AVNation that bring us together to collaborate and learn from each other, stay current on legislation, and industry guidelines and advocacy in the changing environments.

 

One thing we have all focused on is keeping communication open with our teams on a daily basis. Information, collaboration, and communication delivery has always been at the heart of our industry and we have more tools than ever to achieve connectedness. This will be a strong byproduct of how organizations evolve through, and beyond, the pandemic. 

 

Educating our people during this time has been beneficial as well. The online sessions like Learn From Home are a perfect example. We have been able to work in the field but also had chances to carve out time to learn and recertify, so we are stronger than ever when the world opens back up in the coming weeks and months. 

 

What’s ahead for the economy and industry? This is unclear and there are many predictions. The downturn’s origin is not economic, but began as a public health crisis, so the growth out of it will be different than anything in recent history. The insight from economist Dr. Chris Kuehl includes scenarios that show a way forward with a rebound for some firms as soon as next quarter. His insights into our industry are always enlightening.   

 

Transparency is the ultimate currency in these times. It’s critical to know who you can count on to serve customers. Is there supply or logistics issues, when can inventory be available, how can we meet the demand? These are questions we are all asking our vendors. Our customers are eager to collaborate, ready to rebuild, and want to connect with their stakeholders, and our industry provides those tools. There is opportunity in adversity, and businesses will be rebound when they reinvest for a post-crisis future. We are seeing this build up already and will emerge ready when that time comes very soon.

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