2021 Year-End Message

By: Stephan Schmitt, President

When I walk into the office every day, I’m greeted with our mission statement: “Build a more welcoming and sustainable community with abundance of personal growth and contribution.” 

Many companies have a mission statement, but how many actually have the privilege of living theirs? When times are good, it’s easy to follow through on a big idea like building community — but when times are tough, commitment becomes key. And 2021 has been tough. 

Like so many other companies, we had to furlough workers at the start of the pandemic, but we kept everyone on their health insurance so they would have access to healthcare. We gave them unlimited days off if they had symptoms or needed to care for a loved one. We bridged supply chain gaps when the factory had to idle so our employees could maintain their paychecks. When an employee fell ill, others stepped in to make sure our customers received their orders. 

Our employees showed their commitment to our mission by weathering the storm. In an era of enormous worker turnover, only one employee moved on to a different job. 

When the calendar flipped to 2021 and the supply chain slowed to a maddening crawl, our lead times stretched from four weeks to eight weeks to 12 weeks. Our delivery record slipped away. We took costly measures to shield our customers, including ordering far in advance, applying multiple sourcing strategies, importing through multiple ports and airlifting, and boosting our inventory. 

Our customers responded to these efforts with commitment to us. We did not lose a single customer throughout this entire difficult year. 

The supply chain dragons that upended 2021 are far from slain, but we’re riding them. We’re back to our industry-leading service levels and lead times, and we’re ready to support our customers and partners now more than ever. 

Yes, this year challenged our resolve. But it has also shown that our commitment has paid off. Little by little, decision by decision, we’ve built a community of employees and customers that we know will endure any test because we pull together. 

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