Strength in flexibility
My grandpa used to tell me how important it was to be flexible in life. “That which yields is not always weak,” he’d say, adding that it took him too long to learn this lesson. It’s been years since he’s passed but I think he failed to give himself enough credit.
He was born a few years after the 1918 pandemic but he grew up during the Great Depression and lived through (and fought in) World War II. He immigrated to North America, learned the local customs and language, and opened a business — an iron and welding company.
It went through ups and downs, as most companies do, but he ran it for nearly three decades. And, I have to guess that one key to its resilience was his flexibility. Word had it that my grandpa was not always easy to work with, but he was open to new ideas and enjoyed innovation and challenges.
I’ve wondered how he would have managed the last year, given the current pandemic and its hardship on families and businesses. His words of advice came back to me after interviewing several companies to learn how they’ve coped and changed to best handle the COVID restrictions. Somewhat unexpectedly, most of the manufacturers and distributors in the fastener industry we spoke with were doing well. And some were doing better than ever.
One common denominator: flexibility. The companies that excelled also embraced change. They’ve altered schedules, allowed for remote work, created virtual offices (with “live” product demos or how-to videos), developed e-commerce platforms, or implemented software updates to digitalize the supply chain or enhance a web presence. The changes have varied per company but those with resilience seemed to have recognized the importance of offering digital accessibility and welcoming new options for success.
The hope, of course, is that 2021 will eventually allow for greater freedom and opportunities to travel and meet in-person, or attend conferences and events o screen, away from a computer. But until then, flexibility (and technology) has allowed for new ways to connect and for many businesses to continue.
In the fastener industry — one which is essential to the critical devices and everyday products we rely on — this is no small feat. For those companies that have continued to push forward through uncertainty and serve their customers, gratitude and congratulations are warranted.
Here’s hoping 2021 offers more certainty and fewer challenges, requiring a little less flexibility for a change.
In this Handbook, we provide insight into common fastener questions and interests for a range of products, materials, and applications. There’s also an informative Q&A article on frequently asked fastener questions (under “Training”). Thanks for reading! We wish you all a positive and productive year.