Ohio, where I live and work, has issued an order for everyone in the state to shelter in place. Restaurants and schools have been closed, large gatherings are prohibited — and the world of produce has suddenly changed. Our state is just a little ahead of the curve; dramatic change is coming to the entire produce industry.
We are likely soon to see some great produce companies go out of business, and we will likely lose some industry brothers and sisters to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This outbreak is affecting us in many different ways. The industry association leadership is pushing every lever in Washington in an effort to get help. Some companies are struggling to keep up with demand while others have furloughed and laid off workers in the hope merely of surviving.
Our traditionally competitive industry is seeing the more fortunate companies assist their struggling competitors by involving them in the supply chain (even if it adds cost), helping to liquidate their stock, and finding some other means to help them survive.
We will need all of us when this is over — and it is the right thing to do.
On a personal note, my wife and I brought our sixth child into the world less than a week ago, and my oldest child turns 9 years old (hold your gasps) this week. On top of the added stress that having a baby brings at this unique time, I also wonder what type of world will exist after this time of uncertainty is over. Is my family safe? Will my business survive?
The event has the magnitude to create a whole new world order.
As individuals and as business people, we have a common concern: to assure the safety of our families and our businesses. Paradoxically, in this moment of profound breakdown, we are rediscovering what we can and must do: connect with one another.
We are reminded that at both the personal and the business level, it is our actions to strengthen our connections that will make the difference. The farmers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, grocery store associates, business owners, and all the others who work in our industry are rising to the occasion, connecting with one another to assure our safety and well-being.
How do you want your actions and your company to be remembered? How do you personally want to be remembered? What actions will others look back on and judge favorably?
At whatever level you are connecting today, take an action; do something positive thing for a person or a company — something new, something you haven’t done before.
Not only are we an Essential Critical Industry (according to the federal government), we are a group of connected individuals and companies who know that our safety and our well-being depend on the way we work together in this time of crisis.
And — it is the right thing to do.
Alex DiNovo is president and COO of DNO Produce group of companies, Columbus, Ohio. E-mail him at [email protected].