WHEW it’s OVER. 2020 that is. There are still many obstacles to climb, but judging from what I saw and encountered from so many entrepreneurs, I know we can do this. So many of you completely amazed me at how you handled the adversity with many of you actually finding ways to better yourselves in areas that you already knew needed improvement. All this, while adhering to guidelines and finding ways to keep not only your clients safe but your employees as well.

Many of our clients were forced to shut down and we knew they would be concerned about securing their businesses from theft and vandalism in regards to not having anyone there for weeks or months at a time. We first began by reaching out and letting them ALL know that we would jump in and make sure all their places were tightened up security-wise and gave them at least a 90 days grace period to pay us. We were prepared to give more and did in some cases, but were surprised to find the majority of them were able to square us up ahead of time. I knew then these guys were doing something special.

I watched so many in the restaurant business find ways to separate their tables, change their entrances and exits to help keep people from passing each other, keep their bars and kitchens clean, work with their staff to follow all safety protocols, and overall adapt to a different way of dining. Many of these places found ways to make delivery a prominent part of their business. Some of my clients in the pizza business thrived because they came out of the gate ahead of the curve already set up for delivery and dine out. Some found ways to speed up their drive-thru by adding kitchen staff and shutting the dining room for efficiency and quality in dine-out products.

I went to wineries that were not allowed to have us stand at the bar in the tasting room for-person tastings. They found workaround ways for us to still safely purchase 4 or 5 tastings with a printable description to read about each wine we tasted. One of my favorites was ​Veritas that gave us 4 small glass bottles (much like a corcian pill bottle of the past) in a box with a piece of paper that had a QR code on it. Once we snapped the QR code a video of the winemaker came on to explain exactly what we were tasting and the ingredients used to make it as well as listing complementary pairings. Our own private smartphone tasting if you will.

I know we had many businesses close up for good, and I am still upset about that, but for the ones that survived and thrived ​my hat is off to you​. Thank you for showing your entrepreneurial spirit and the grit it took to make this happen. I am proud to have served and learned from you. Keep up the great work and when this thing gets back to normal, I can’t wait to see you grow. Don’t ever bet against or count the American entrepreneur out as it is a bet you will LOSE. Stay safe everyone and remember to care about each other. Here’s to 2021 and new beginnings!

-Rusty Stevens, Owner/President at Advanced Tech Systems & Automation