“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” Wayne Gretsky

This COVID-19 pandemic has hit the business world hard. What you used to do, may no longer work. What you used to sell may no longer be relevant. What you do to change the situation, is very much up to you.

For many this means re-thinking what you can do – not just to keep your business alive, but to ensure you can keep as many of your staff on the payroll as you can.

Take Jim Estill, CEO of Danby who recently spoke at the Rotary Club of Guelph Trillium. What impresses me about him, is how he turns on a dime to think about the latest trends and how they will impact his business.

He has several businesses but his main one is manufacturing fridges and freezers – of different sizes and for different client groups – like home owners, motels and hotels, university dorms, and more.

He likes to study the trends. With the lockdown and social distancing, more people are at home, meaning that more food is stored at home, and with stock-piling, more refrigerator and freezer space is required. As a result, he has seen rapid growth in terms of freezer and fridge sales as people purchase them to create a sense of food security for themselves.

Jim is known in Guelph for his philanthropy, and in 2015 he sponsored over 50 refugees to come to Guelph, helping them find employment, homes and fostering a community that cares.

It should therefore come as no surprise when the pandemic struck and there was a shortage of ventilators, that he should immediately take action to address this problem.

He put all his engineers and designers to work to design and develop a ventilator and quickly discovered that this was not something they could do alone. He then pulled in several companies to come together to make this happen and partnered with Baylis Medical to ensure quality control. His plant has turned into a 24- hour operation in order to get the ventilators ready.

With an order for 10,000 units from the Government of Canada, he has 164 of his employees on hand to assemble all the parts to meet a tight delivery schedule. But as he says the project solved two problems – he was able to retain his staff and the medical sector will receive much-needed equipment.

And while his smaller refrigeration units are not in demand right now, he sees that changing after this is over, as there will be more people downsizing to smaller homes, such as townhouses.

Estill has also been demonstrating his leadership with daily emails to his staff, sharing information, including bad news, links to useful articles and the odd cartoon.
He has weekly meetings with all his staff, who report in on their goals, what they have learned that week, goals for the following week and what they need from him.

While he is a leader in technology, he acknowledges that the simple way is better than developing a complicated system and his hands-on approach with his team, speaks to that philosophy.

Are you studying the trends? Are you watching and predicting what will happen when the pandemic is over? And more to the point, what are you going to do as a result? Let me know.

Anne Day

Anne Day

Company of Women

I have had an eclectic career from running non-profit organizations and being editor of a national magazine, to working for government on women’s issues. In 2003 I launched Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. A prolific blogger, I also write for the Huffington Post, and several other online publications. I am the author of five books on women and entrepreneurship, and co-author of Good Enough. Embrace who you are. Unleash your brilliance. which is available on amazon.ca In June, 2016 I launched Full Circle Publishing offering one-stop services to get your words out into the world.