Update #15 from Bruce McDonald

Everyone,

“What if these are the good old days?”

This wry observation was made by comedian Conan O’Brien recently. It isn’t most uplifting of thoughts but I think the underlying message is important: we will be dealing with the disruption and economic fallout of COVID-19 for a long while and we will do ourselves a disservice if we are not realistic about our current situation and the immediate future. 

My view of the “old normal” is fading quickly in the rear view mirror. There has not been a day in past two months when I didn’t say or think “this sucks!” I remain as eager as the next person to resume daily life as I knew it in February. But every time the fear of infection enters my mind, I realize my former lifestyle simply isn’t possible now and the circumstances making it so are remain well beyond my control. So I try to make the best of where we are at, to focus on the positives, and find the small celebrations of what remains good about these new days.

May has always been an important month at B&M. Having reached the mid-point of our financial year at April 30, we begin focusing more sharply on our year-end forecasts versus our budgeted expectations. Summer work kicks into high gear. Seasonally-driven service increases sharply. Our workforce swells. Optimism and activity typically run high.

There has never been a May as significant as one that draws to a close tomorrow. We have been busy restoring the health of our company. We have a ways to go but I am happy to again report that we continue to ascend. We are returning tradespeople to work and our workhours have increased by almost 10% per week since the lowest point in mid-April. As we recover from the depths of the pandemic, we are creating our financial projections with an unprecedented number of unknown factors. I will have more to report next week but we remain on stable and improving footing.

We are having to completely rethink many aspects of B&M’s business to adjust to the COVID-19 world: how to work safely and productively; how to interact with our customers; how to run our jobs; how to work as a team when separate. We have never been faced with so many tough and unpopular choices.  Change can be so daunting and unsettling but it can also be invigorating. Let’s face it, our old ways were not necessarily the best ways. 

Our company is far from perfect but I believe our motivations are sound and full of earnest intention. We will undoubtedly make mistakes and experience failures. We will disappoint some people. This pandemic remains an enormous challenge and we are trying our hardest to figure it out

In spite of the news that constantly dwells upon the negative and obsesses with everything and everyone that is wrong, we will not abandon the positive and allow fear and uncertainty to drive us into an age of unreason and indecency. In that light, I offer the following small celebration of B&M brought to us by a complete stranger who was compelled to post a comment on our website after seeing our people at work in her area:

You have crews working to replace light poles and lines in the Lebo, KS area. This morning as a funeral procession passed by their work areas, both crews stopped what they were doing, removed their hardhats, and stood at solemn attention while the procession passed by. Could not be more impressed!

This small demonstration of decency and respect for others reminds me that not everything in our world has changed and that no amount of hardship and pandemic mayhem will alter who we are and how we behave. I believe what is good about our people and B&M will always be good and that our best days lie ahead.

Thanks to all for living the values of our founder WJ McDonald.

Bruce