TD Bank Morning Star: Lessons in Resilience

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged small businesses across the country to be resourceful and innovative. In this webinar, a panel of small business owners describe how they successfully led their companies through the turbulence. The discussion is sure to inspire new ideas for how you can make your company more resilient and creative.

• Dion Haynes, Editor, The Washington Post

• Andrew Fetterolf, CEO, Jenkins Restorations
• Mitch Weintraub, Managing Partner, Cordia Partners
• Derek Wood, Managing Principal, Fox Architects

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Early Challenges

Each of the panelists faced unique challenges.

Jenkins Restorations has to go into people’s homes to perform restoration construction. At the beginning of the pandemic, customers began voicing concerns about having workers in their homes. Some of his workers were also uncomfortable with the situation and resigned over the course of the pandemic. For example, one of his workers had an elderly grandmother living with him and could not continue to put himself at risk of being a vector for the disease.

Most of the workers at Fox Architects could do much of their design and architecture work at home but working creatively and collaboratively from home can be a challenge. They also have frequent meetings on construction sites. They had to rethink how they held those meetings to minimize transmission risk. Derek Wood, Managing Principal of Fox Architects, said that he started observing employees question their career ambitions around the fall, and some decided to pivot.

Cordia Partners, an accounting firm, was fortunately able to have most employees work from home but faced typical challenges around keeping workers engaged and continuing to provide top-notch customer service.

Opportunities to Innovate

Though the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the remote work trend, it has created new opportunities for Fox Architects to develop innovative designs for the workplace of tomorrow.

Cordia Partners saw more customers asking them for help developing cloud-based bill pay systems in the pandemic.

Jenkins Restorations began offering decontamination services. Their first customer was a Costco which had an outbreak, and from there they began serving other stores like Wawa. This service hinged on quick deployment—getting staff out to a site in two hours or less.

Ongoing Challenges

Constant remote work has led to what several panelists described as “fray” in employee collaboration and engagement, as well as isolation and mental health challenges. Derek Wood said that Fox Architects has been bringing vaccinated employees together for meetings to give them a chance to connect and rebuild lost energy. The business leaders on the panel also described the importance of senior leaders making an effort to check in with employees directly to identify ways to better meet their needs.

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