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Moving forward in 2021

In the fall we turned our clocks back an hour, then focused on year-end activities including a rigorous financial and operational review, and the in-depth process of preparing for the coming year. I can tell you this—our planning process was dramatically different than in prior years.

Knowing what I know now, I surely would have done things differently a year ago. But, since no one has a reliable way to foretell the future, Blue Book will use this year as a means to update and plan in a more comprehensive manner, taking into account a few more what ifs, even if they are seemingly remote. I mean, come on, who could have accurately predicted our current circumstances? Nostradamus, maybe.

What in specific have we learned about ourselves and our organizations? We have learned there is much we cannot control. However, having accepted this fact, we also learned that we can adapt and institute best practices.

As an organization, we learned how to pivot, literally overnight, work remotely, and not miss a beat. This ability to pivot electronically would not have been possible a few years ago. Thank goodness for high-speed internet and reliable laptops.

We also learned how to keep our culture of respect and high standards of quality and responsiveness. Did we falter occasionally? Perhaps, but we felt a special sense of purpose and all hands came on deck to make sure Blue Book members received the best information and customer service we could provide.

We have heard multiple stories from industry members about how their businesses and employees adapted and reconfigured operations. The overall conclusion: there were some good and some not-so-good results. The business owners stressed that, over time, the bad became less onerous and for many, a brighter light was seen down the long business tunnel.

We have heard stories of hardship, hard work, trying things on the fly, and super success. But all had the following in common: never give up, take a long-term view, involve everyone in the company, be transparent with all stakeholders, and rely on each other.

Lots of life lessons the past year; undoubtedly, many more lie ahead.

The produce industry has responded well. People are eating, there have been few disruptions in the supply chain, and businesses are paying their bills. The biggest winner is trust—in the processes and in each other.

As we look forward to 2021, keep your chin up and your eyes on the path. Together, we will succeed.

C. James Carr is the CEO of Blue Book Services.