Keeping Our Composure

It’s been one week since our area of Western Pennsylvania has been in the “green” phase. While we kinda don’t know what exactly is the “green” phase, we are all very glad that we’re in it. There are signs that other people like the “green” phase, too. There are more cars on the road now and instead of the nine minutes it took me to get home, I am back to thirty – which I don’t mind — I get a lot of thinking done. Even better, there is now more parking spaces at Tandem Connection, which is a little bike shop located at the Montour Trail. The COVID-19 virus forced everyone out of their houses and onto the bike trail, which beforehand only people “in the know” used and finding a parking spot was nearly impossible. Because more people are back at work, I can park where I want.

But what does this “green” phase mean for the small business?

You call tell that small businesses are opening up, but frankly, I am not hearing any great sighs of relief. Instead these businesses are trying to figure out how to function: You have to pay for 100% of the building and 100% of the utilities but you can only serve at 50% capacity and get 50% of the revenue and sales. I doubt that West Penn Power or the Pennsylvania Water Company will accept a 50% payment on the electric and water bill. These same businesses now need to invest in stuff like masks and thermometers to monitor the health of their employees. Where there was once a single bottle of hand sanitizer that sat on the checkout counter, these businesses have to keep an inventory of wipes and disinfectants in order to do a complete wipe down of surfaces after each patron leaves. The “burden of being shut down” has now shifted to the “burden of being open”. I am not sure what’s worse but I completely understand the business owners saying, “this is just not worth it”, and deciding to not open at all. The thing is, what do you do after investing your life into your own business and having to walk away? I doubt anyone is working on a vaccine for that.

The challenges are felt in the supply chain, too.

As a distributor, Hartman has felt it. We are part of the supply chain. We have been able to weather the slow-down of our business, but now, we are facing as part of the supply chain, the results of labor shortages. People are still concerned for their health so they are not coming back to work. That translates into creating long lead times. We are being quoted lead times into September, and that is from domestic sources. Manufacturers are working at a “capped capacity” which means the drill that we used to be able to get in 3 days is now going to take 10 or more. The list goes on, but through this pandemic Hartman has learned to pivot rather well. We have taken moves to expand our resources and as a result our warehouse is well stocked, which means our customers can continue to be supplied.

More importantly, we have not lost our composure.

Composure is calmness and tranquility in mind and spirit. We have it because, well, for 72 years Hartman has been in business. That’s seven decades of weathering everything that occurred during those seven decades. How does this help you? This makes Hartman a dependable partner for our customers and the supply chain. As we return to normalcy (I am actively resisting the term “new normal”), even though it will take a while, we will maintain our composure, our sense of tranquility, through to the end of 2020 regardless of what may (or may not) happen.

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