Into the Eye of the Storm – 365 Days of COVID-19 in NYC

March 4, 2021

Where were you and what were you doing exactly one year ago on March 12, 2020?

March 12th sure felt like the day that COVID-19 “broke” and became “real”. Panic was in the air, especially in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area. Offices and streets were empty. The stock market fell 10%. Engagement with customers and partners plummeted. Those were dark days indeed, especially for those who call New York home.

Looking back over the past 365 days, I’m proud of how we reacted, evolved and grew during one of the most challenging periods on record. While others retreated, we stayed put, stayed safe and eventually ran into the fire, growing our sales, project management and installation teams while executing on large and exciting projects. Through a difficult time we refocused, adapted to the new world, and believe our business is the better for it.

Let’s dive into how 2020 played out, bit by bit.

Health & Safety:

  • COVID-19 was scary and chaotic for the nation as a whole, and that was certainly the case in New York, the most densely populated city in the United States. As information came out, we adapted our processes.
  • While sales professionals can often prospect from home, their job involves getting in front of clients and assessing client needs. Business development came to a halt, happening almost exclusively via Zoom (we still offer virtual AIA-accredited lunch & learns!). Sales assessments declined materially, happening much more often via FaceTime or utilizing Google Earth, at least for a few months.
  • Office employees began working from home immediately; while we have long utilized workflow software to help communicate and organize our work; it was a blessing during COVID-19. What was brand new for our competitors was already part of our routine, making the virtual transition much more seamless:
    • Installations unfortunately ground to a halt; as we pulled back from residential work and focused on essential, clean, school and commercial security window film projects.
    • The business started to recover in June 2020, although to this day our our processes are still different relative to 2019. We struggled with guidance and PPE shortages like everyone else. Masks, once strange, are now a part of daily life. Raw material shortages have impacted our supply chain. Commercial contracting sites, never without challenges, are now even more chaotic; one positive case shuts down projects and stretches out completion time by weeks or months.
  • We developed and implemented a COVID-19 safety plan early on, and stick to it to this day. The safety of our employees and customers is always top of mind.

Our Team / Process:

  • Our products and films are great!!! But they are not DIY, and, they certainly are not going to sell or deliver themselves over the internet. The end product is very much about our team, our people, and as business began to stabilize, we started to look at ways to improve our process and product line.
  • While Q2 bookings declined materially, we were fortunate enough to execute well, and did not make any COVID-19-related staffing cuts. Our sales and project management teams are intact and stronger than ever in New Jersey, New York City, Long Island, Westchester, and Connecticut. As other businesses pulled back, we used the opportunity to continue to grow our in-house installation crew to 5 trucks / 10 installers. Keeping folks busy consistently throughout the dark days was hard, but important.
  • Zoom Happy Hours were a great way to stay connected throughout the pandemic. We stayed consistent, Friday at 5pm, and maybe even a few impromptu meetings during the darkest days of COVID.
  • We continued to hold in-person teach-ins and meetings, either in our Manhattan office or our Yonkers warehouse. We stay connected via chat, weekly zooms, and so forth, but there is no substitute for human interaction, even if we are all behind masks.
  • We very much missed our annual holiday party. Our heart truly goes out to those restaurants and bars whose businesses have been torn apart by this pandemic.

Key Work / Accomplishments:

Moynihan Train Hall

One of our favorite jobs this year! We were thrilled to contribute to the expansion of Pennsylvania Station into the adjacent Farley Building. The $1.6 billion renovation was done to reduce congestion. If you find yourself in the beautiful glass atrium, you’ll notice our wall graphics! The whole project looks amazing and we’re so happy we could contribute!

Prominent Westchester School District

This one was a beast! Acting as prime contractor, we furnished and installed over 30,000 square feet of 3M Security Window Film (and related caulking) covering every ground floor door and window in this school district. We love all of our jobs, but providing security film for schools means a little bit more given the peace of mind we provide.

3M Northeastern Dealer of the Year

As this post is written, we have 18 full-time employees between sales, management and installers, and we are pushing forward. We are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, between warmer weather, numerous vaccines on the market, a softening political landscape and growing awareness in our products, we’re excited to be here. We’re thrilled to have received 3M’s Dealer of the Year Award for the Northeastern United States. Looking back over the last twelve months, we’re excited to have dug in our heels, evolved, grown our business and team, and are ready to see you soon.