By Brad White
CEO, The Tartan Companies
BOARDMAN – To say this past year has been a challenging one would be an understatement. Like so many businesses that serve other businesses, The Tartan Companies, based in Canfield, were dealing with our clients’ issues as well as internal concerns caused by the pandemic and imposed restrictions.
We had decided early on that we would keep all staff employed during the initial shutdown period if at all possible. Two weeks turned into two months, which became a constantly changing environment still ongoing nine months later.
Fortunately, we’ve been able to avoid layoffs. We had one employee retire during the summer and decided to absorb those duties among our staff. We were fortunate in that we obtained PPP funds which, while far short of meeting our payroll costs during the shutdowns, did help our cash flow during a critical time.
Over the last four months, we have had to quarantine, on and off, about 20% of our workforce because of confirmed or suspected exposures to COVID-19. Two individuals were quarantined after testing positive with relatively minor symptoms. Our IT staff was able to move several positions to home-based work sites.
We lost approximately 80 employers due to their inability to stay in business because of the pandemic. With a client base of 2,300 companies, this equates to 3.5% of our total client count. We have been encouraged to see some new clients starting with us in the past eight weeks and have had discussions with startup companies for early 2021. It’s good to see the entrepreneurial spirit is still alive with many being encouraged by the start of vaccinations.
On a personal note, the most impactful outcome last year was seeing the inequity of the COVID-19 regulations on employers. While some clients had to shut their doors permanently, we saw others hiring employees and growing.
Those that had to close did not have to do so because of not working hard enough or not planning well. When regulations shut down entire industries, there is little opportunity to adjust. Many family businesses have paid a high price. Shutting down only certain employers is unfair and does not obtain the hoped for results.
Our company goal for 2021 is to be back at pre-pandemic levels by the end of the second quarter and obtain a 5% annualized growth rate by year-end. Our hope is to be part of the service team that assists many of the employers forced to shut their doors through no fault of their own should they come back in this new year.