I am so proud of my fellow boxmakers, our suppliers, and AICC, our Association.
In the middle of March, events related to COVID-19 accelerated at an incredible rate. As we know, the virus itself grew exponentially both in the number of people afflicted and, sadly, in the number of people killed. Governments at all levels responded with varied and numerous orders, some following federal guidelines, others not, some even stretching the imagination if not the Constitution itself.
Our boxmakers and suppliers were in most cases deemed “essential businesses,” although in some states, members had to fight for this designation. They did, and they were successful in keeping their doors open. It’s truly amazing how little politicians seem to understand about supply chains. Members responded to the demand to provide packaging products for food, produce, hygiene, medical, and pharmaceutical goods that must necessarily go to a now homebound populace.
In the midst of the new realities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the immediate demands to produce, members rose to the occasion, reassured their employees, took great lengths to ensure their safety, and created clever and flexible ways to accommodate the needs to produce with the needs of employees’ families and the changes wrought in their lives.
The federal government responded with a number of programs meant to alleviate some of the uncertainty created by the situation, even for an essential business. I can tell you, it has not been easy to navigate through these programs—FFCRA, CARES Act, IRS changes, SBA PPP loans—but it is something that we have all done and continue to do as we don’t know yet what we don’t know about the coming months. There is so much uncertainty. Will increases in the above market sectors last? Will these increases offset decreases in orders from customers that have been deemed nonessential? Which direction will the economy go?
Through all this tragedy, economic carnage, and uncertainty, we have all been there for each other. Many AICC members have produced personal protective equipment for their employees and for local care providers and have made these available to other members. We have shared best practices and helpful ideas with each other. We have provided emotional, mental, and humorous support to each other, because crisis leadership takes a toll, and we need to remain resilient.
AICC, your Association, has been there for us as well. It has provided the forums necessary to facilitate so many of the exchanges among members, from a website page updated daily with the information members need to make decisions to a weekly video conference in which you, the members, are the educators. AICC has provided webinars on the relief legislation, HRand business planning. It has created an online community board where members can exchange experiences, ask questions, and provide answers and guidance.
AICC will continue to adapt and create—just as we all will. Stay well.