By Bob Rose
Vice President, National Produce Sales
Allen Lund Company
My daughter is a smart and caring teacher of young children in Seattle. She has been out of work for months and is doing fine, but obviously concerned about the job she loves.
Teachers’ salaries deserve more debate, but we acknowledge the societal importance. While I understand some companies have no choice but to lay off their workforce, what is surprising is the substantial number of layoffs and even changes in compensation plans for those employees in essential businesses that our society depends on.
The first quarter of 2020 was difficult for the produce industry and transportation providers like the Allen Lund Company. We are proud of how our company remained loyal to our customer base while truck rates skyrocketed. We added people to our staff to fill in key spots, quickly adapted new protocols to maintain clean and safe work environments, and we are flexible with some of our team members working from home in order manage the needs of our customers during these difficult times.
As we speak, my 401K looks a lot less like Swiss cheese and feels more like I can breathe. I’m sure this is more of a reaction the world will come back from this over time and erase the initial reaction we were all doomed, which we are certainly not.
What we should see is a speeding up of certain trends that were going to happen, just a lot earlier than we all thought. Trends like home delivery and home health care are at full speed.
Produce should be foremost in our thoughts as a process of health and wellness. I would imagine restaurants, gyms, and sporting events will return, but I’m hoping it would be a safer, new normal that will be better for everyone in the future.
Our produce clients have many challenges going forward. Innovation is all around us as change can be very positive and profitable once we all get over the shock of the suddenness of this movement. Stores such as 7-11 were born from the off shoot of their primary business of selling ice before the invention of refrigeration.
We are witnessing much stronger communication and collaboration from all parties and are hopeful our new way of working will continue as these issues subside. We expect the utmost ethical business practices are used as the economy rebounds and we all work together to ensure a robust and hopefully v-curved economic recovery!
People in our industry have always been able to work through challenges and adapt to whatever curveball is thrown. We are smart, focused, and live in an ever-changing environment. We are resilient in our business practices and the current extraordinary circumstances will be met with a positive “get it done” attitude.