Today is March 20, 2022, and I have so much to be thankful for.

March 20, 2020, on the other hand was by far the worst day of my life. That was the day that I had to lay off my entire team. The government told us that we had to close our doors to the public for an undetermined amount of time. The week leading up to the layoff was not easy as well as there seemed to be more questions than answers. There was no one to go to get a clear answer as government officials at all levels were scrambling with how to deal with the increasing spread of COVID-19.

It was a sick and dark time

Given the growing concerns, North 49 planned to shoulder the problem equally by having everyone reduce their hours, so everyone could continue to collect a paycheque. However, with the forced closure to the public with next to no warning, our team had to be laid off.

You can recall there was so much uncertainty at that time and I was responsible for not only my family, but the livelihood of several families. This gave me a constant nauseated feeling that lasted until the fall-time of 2020. As many business owners could relate to, I took the gamble to open up a small business with no business training and dealing with the pandemic was not what I had signed up for.

Okay, so I had no staff working, but still had to pay rent, utilities & taxes. Also hard to plan when there are no timeframes. My day would consist of seeing some patients online and trying to develop new systems to deal with the change in how our business was run. Each evening was spent going over scenarios and crunching numbers with my wife.

To keep utility costs down at work I turned the temperature way down, wore warmer clothes and used a space heater. Then once we re-opened our doors to the public there was the initial scarcity of face masks, hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes. I think we spent $60 initially for a box of 100 medical grade masks from one distributor. To be honest, when there were Lysol wipes at Costco I would buy more than one flat. I would go through the line more than once and have my wife do the same, even though it said “limit 1”. Total confession.

Regarding Costco, remember the line-ups to get in?

Outside of work, I was fortunate that my kids were adults, but heard of the troubles navigating home schooling from both the parent and teacher. No public gatherings, so no shows, church, eating out, Rush games, etc. Everyone had to stay home in their bubble. What a sick and dark time. At least going to work gave me something to do and working at the clinic made my bubble bigger. I would have gone crazy staying at home.

What were the options?

In situations like this there are really two options, give up or push forward. If it was just me, it would have been easy to give up and start over when the dust settled, but North 49 was responsible for the livelihood of its team members. So, giving up was not an option.

Key factors to getting through

As I look back it has been two years to the day where I laid everyone off and there are several key factors that got North 49 through this being:

  • Faith.
  • My family.
  • The best group of coworkers I have ever worked with.
  • A great community to work in.

Without any one factor listed above North 49 would not have made it through. So many had to close their doors permanently. In our mall alone at least four businesses closed. We are fortunate and thankful as that could have easily been us.

Did we survive or thrive?

During the pandemic there were new catch phrases like “pivot” and “shift”. One that stuck out in my mind was you can either “survive or thrive”. Looking back I can honestly say we thrived as:

  • The pandemic forced us to think differently and we now have new systems in place that have improved our efficiency.
  • We are actually more busy than pre-COVID and had to add to our team.
  • And, as a team going through this experience we are definitely stronger and look forward to our promising future.

As of today we are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic and there are always things that come up. However, the future is bright and I am so thankful to God, my family, my team & my community.