A little bit of positivity can go a long way during the most trying of times.
The way Jim Glazer sees it, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a seemingly never-ending set of challenges and opportunities over the course of the last few months. However, in taking an objective approach to COVID-19, planning appropriately and – most importantly – viewing ever-changing circumstances through a positive lens, Glazer and his employees at AEM member company Elliott Equipment Company (Elliott) have been ready for whatever has come their way.
"Our approach to COVID-19 has brought our team closer together, and we've been willing and able to work closely with one another and make adjustments along the way," said Glazer, the president and CEO of the Omaha, Neb.-based manufacturer of telescopic truck mounted aerial work platforms, cranes and digger derricks.
"The way we see it, there are challenges and opportunities, not problems. And looking at [the pandemic] that approach has served us well."
Dealing With Disruption
While Glazer readily admits COVID-19's impact on his company has been "disruptive to say the least," Elliott's leaders have remained steadfastly focused on ensuring the safety of its employees and customers.
Whether it has been complying with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, embracing social distancing, facilitating the ability for certain employees to work remotely, using masks on the shop floor, or establishing new cleaning and sanitizing practices, Glazer and his colleagues are doing whatever they can to help slow the spread of COVID-19, all while continuing to be as productive as possible.
"We've been working throughout the pandemic as an essential business, and Nebraska has been more open that most states," said Glazer. "Like a lot of other AEM members it's made planning different for us because there's such a wide range of potential scenarios for us to account for."
A willingness to work together in an effort to overcome challenges, along with remaining steadfastly focused on supporting employees and customers, has allowed Glazer and his fellow leaders at Elliott to find some silver linings amidst the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We've really tried to embrace and use new technology with our teams, like videoconferencing, and we've also used some of our time to conduct some extra training with our employees," he said. "It's also allowed us some time to refine some things related to how we go to market and who we go to market with. We've been able to do a lot of things in a very condensed time because of the minimal amount of distractions."
Staying 'On the Same Page'
It's no secret effective communication has been a critically valuable tool for organizations of all types and sizes during the ongoing pandemic. According to Glazer, all-company meetings have helped Elliott's leaders stay on the same page with employees, while newsletters and other written communications have allowed the organization to share important information with customers and distributors alike.
Remaining in touch with its workforce also has allowed company officials to gain feedback from employees about how they're navigating the pandemic.
"It's been both good and bad," said Glazer. "On the good side, people have really enjoyed having some more free time and being able to share it with family. When there is such a significant shift in in your life, there are really things that come about that you may have taken for granted in the past. I think that's what happened here. But overall, I think people are quite anxious to return things to normal."
Getting Back to Work
And what is "normal" at this point? It's really anybody's guess, but Glazer said it involves being able to make sure people can be as effective as possible while on the job.
"I think people appreciate going to work," he continued. "It really does give people a sense of normalcy, and they are able to see and socialize with the people they work with. All the technology and videoconferencing is great, but there's really no substitute to being face to face."
While it's difficult for anyone to truly know what the future holds as it relates to navigating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Glazer said he and his colleagues at Elliott are staying true to their values of safety, customer satisfaction, culture and sustainability.
"The biggest challenge has been the degree of uncertainty in the environment," said Glazer. "Things are changing way faster and more broadly than normal. Trying to piece all of the moving parts together and understand what's going on – without ever really stopping – has been the most challenging thing for us."
That said, the Elliott President and CEO remains optimistic about the future of both his company and the equipment manufacturing industry overall.
"As the situation evolves, everyone is learning and adapting as we continue to go down the road," said Glazer. "And, I think as things really start to open up, people will just get more and more confident about heading out and getting everything going again."