COVID-19: Challenge – Appreciation – Opportunity

COVID-19 is challenging, but also a time for appreciation and opportunity for all of us. This Coronavirus pandemic is challenging all our abilities to work, play, and carry on with our business and personal lives.

Steve Labbe, owner of Paradigm Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning recently discussed with Chris Ryan, talk-show host with WKXL, the predicament in which we all find ourselves. Chris was first to comment, “It’s been interesting and challenging. We want to be out there. For me, I don’t want to simply sit in the studio. It’s a challenge for me. I like being out there. But I realize I have to sacrifice for the greater good [with social distancing]. It’s been only about a week. With everybody in this lockdown mode. But it’s disturbing for me to hear in the news about our people wanting to jumpstart the economy, with comments about getting everything back in order by Easter, when the health pros say they are hoping this quarantining will starting to work.”

Chris continued with his thoughts that human life has to be at the forefront of our efforts like Governor Sununu has been saying. Steve added, that for anybody in business, “It’s obvious, it’s difficult. The President is a businessman. It’s scary. You love the protection and care we are taking. But this [dramatic slowdown in the economy], we have to lay off people because there is no work.” He went on to add, when you are a small business, “There are two stresses: how to get the work done and how to bid to get the work. It’s difficult when you have to tell your employees, ‘Sorry, I have no work for you today. I have to let you go’.”

Chris responded, “I understand. I’m in your boat. The economic woes are right in front of us. The Corona Virus is invisible. We don’t know if our actions will be effective. At the same time, you have the absolute reality of the economy. There are sponsors who won’t be able to continue supporting our programs. And we know that some entities won’t make it out this. This is the reality.” Looking ahead, Chris believed that he could get sponsors in the future. “But I can’t bring back my Dad. I look at this as a battle between the ‘Dow’ and ‘death’. The business concerns are right in front of us. I am cognizant of this.”

They both agreed they are prepared to ride this out, through the great severity of this wave, more testing, and hoping for a vaccine. Steve said, “The [business] overhead is tough.” Recently, he had 3 jobs that he had already won but each got postponed. “We do have some work from the State. I see [an opportunity to] forming a good relationship with the State. Paradigm tries to build relationships, keeping the customer’s best interests in mind.”

Chris added, “In my view you are very successful, but you will have to ride it out. We will lose restaurants. I think everybody’s mindset will change on how they will spend.” The pandemic has changed many things in our lives. Steve said, “My son and I were getting a steak bomb at a restaurant. It’s our little tradition after fishing. We had to do it curbside this time.” Steve also commented about changes with work, “My licenses are piling up. If I don’t renew them, I can’t continue. Last night I had to do it and did a Zoom [online training] with my son [who is also in the business], which was wonderful.”

Chris noted, “It has been challenging with the homeschooling. But there will be memories. My son and I go out for hamburgers. It’s a time we are figuring out. This second week we are figuring out our habits… and there will be new traditions. You’re right about going out – we are social people. Will there be more Zoom or Skype activities? Sure. But there will be people who want to go back to the life they had. Like Opening Day of the Red Sox. Or a birthday party for your kids on the calendar. I am hopeful, that we will treasure more – everything is a gift.”

Steve added, “A big word is ‘appreciation’, and another is ‘opportunity’. Remember it is a global world. There is still the opportunity to say hello to a neighbor. This is a little bit of pleasure.”
Chris finished with, “Let’s hope good things come out of this.”

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