Breaking News (not Breaking Glass!)

2020: It’s not the best of times; it’s not the worst of times.

2020: The Lost Year
2020: The Year of Fear

These are just two of the many catchphrases I’ve heard used to describe the warped reality on Planet Covid-19.

In my April 8th post, I suggested that we all should: “Work on one or two things that can make you or your business ready to latch on to opportunities when they return.”

That was a little over 6 months ago. During those 6 months, Teknapack did do some work on things, although what we worked on had more to do with surviving than being ready to latch on to opportunities when they return. I supposed compared to many other businesses that have been permanently shuttered because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Teknapack has latched on to opportunity, in a way.

Way back in May of 2020, Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics fame gave a presentation titled:

Stephen Dubner Goes Freakonomics on COVID-19: What Happens to Business When the Economy Re-opens.

One of the comments he made stuck with me. Paraphrasing; he said something along the lines of predictions tends to turn out better than the pessimistic view and worse than the optimistic view.

Teknapack is based in Minnesota. During the height of our fearful preparation for the worst, the state made a $6,900,000 investment in a warehouse that was to be converted into a morgue to store the bodies of all the people who were predicted to die from Covid-19. Fortunately, there’s been no need to make that conversion. I’m OK with doing better than the pessimistic view here.

Predictions of a V-shaped economic recovery have also fallen short. Thousands of small businesses have been wiped out in spite of the fact that as of today, October 19 the stock markets are near mid-December 2019 levels.

I have friends who are professionals in the investment market and I’ve heard comments like: It’s like the last year didn’t happen. People from the restaurant and hospitality industry have a different view, so that’s worse than the optimistic view.

Teknapack is very niche-oriented. The flat glass used for architectural and automotive applications makes up about 80% of our business base. When automotive manufacturers shut down for many weeks, the demand for windshields and automotive windows disappeared. Glass for new housing and remodeling was better than our worst fears so that helped keep us going.

Virtual work/work from home became the new normal for many types of jobs and now there’s growing discussion that these arrangements are actually more cost-effective than traditional workplace settings. A look into the crystal ball has us wondering if the demand for commercial buildings, office buildings, and even retail stores will cause a significant drop in the demand for flat glass.

The reality is that the future is very hard to predict and the best option is to continue to do the work that allows a business to survive in difficult times. Those survival skills are the same ones that allow us to latch on to opportunities when the time is right.

Best wishes for your continued survival!


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