March 2020
Life in an Age of Coronavirus
By Frank Hurtte
River Heights Consulting

Good old Friday the 13th! It was a personal tipping point, the day I came to the realization the Coronavirus thing was going from bad to worse. For an Iowa-based guy, watching the whole thing unfold on TV, I realized things were troubling in New York, Seattle, and a few other cities. But for residents of small-town America, it was difficult to gage whether Coronavirus was media hype or real. Then it turned real. Within minutes every store in the country was stripped of their toilet paper supply, not to mention every kind of canned good. Fortunately, the beer people have a solid supply chain.

Early the next Monday, my phone and email lit up; friends, colleagues, clients and acquaintances all pushing out trying to discover the situation in other parts of the country. We chatted, tried to find something comparable in our lifetime, and we postulated on the future. Despite surviving three hurricanes, a tropical storm in New Orleans (AHTD 2002), a couple of massive floods, and a minor earthquake, I really had nothing to compare the situation against. Nor did any of them. In the end, we promised to keep in touch.

After week one, here’s what we discovered
Distributors are exercising great caution around their people. Nearly all have asked their sellers to work from their home offices. Inside sales teams are either working from home or scattered throughout the facility to maximize social distancing. Shipping and receiving people are still working but under strict orders to wash hands often. Management is bouncing from place to place, pulling their hair, keeping things moving, and wondering what will happen next.

Some of the big companies, like the automotive, have closed operations. Most are restricting visitors except for essential services. Everyone is thinking about safety, sanitation, and remaining virus free. 

But some big questions remain
During the first week of the shutdown, invoicing at most distributors remained solid. Despite, or perhaps because of the COVID-19 related closures, some distributors saw solid in-coming orders last week. But what happens next?

Now is the time for networking, and now is the time for all of us to apply the power of AHTD.

Rather than relying on data from our own territory, let us to band together to broaden our scope and better understand the North American market dynamics. To that end, AHTD will conduct a weekly survey of business conditions and will share that information back to the group.

The surveys will be short and will cover the points important to the AHTD family. I will be working closely with the AHTD team to tailor the questions and will provide color commentary along the way. Everything you provide will be 100 percent confidential and anonymous in our weekly updates and articles.

If ever there was a time to take a three minute for a survey, it is now.  
AHTD's 2020 Financial Benchmarking Survey Launched!

The Financial Benchmarking Survey is designed to help business owners analyze financial and operational data and compare results against companies of similar size and the highest profit performing organizations within AHTD. 

AHTD’s Financial Benchmarking Survey is the best and most useful tool of its kind in the industry. Survey outputs are available at no charge for those ASP members who participate. 

ASP members should login to access the forms.

Survey results will be available for purchase this summer. Stay tuned!
Member Networking Opportunity!

It's vital to stay connected with members of our industry especially during times as chaotic as these. Claim your seat at the table: registration is open for you to join one of AHTD's Executive Roundtable groups for this upcoming session.
What's Up Members?

What's Up Strategic Business Partners?
We're grateful for our Strategic Business Partners.These companies offer strategic products or services in the industrial automation distribution industry.
  • Peg Heinen of MRA has shared webinars one, two, and three regarding Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Peg says this website page is a go-to source for COVID-19 resources.

  • SalesProcess360 is hosting free webinar for you. "Sales Process Audit" will be held Thursday, April 16 at 1:00 p.m. CDT. Contact Brian Gardner to say "sign me up for the webinar!"
ITR Virtual Session: Save-the-Date
Guidance in an Uncertain Economy
 April 22, 2020 | 11:00 a.m. EDT.
Login details will be made available for this AHTD members-only event. 
Never has it been more critical for company leaders and key decision-makers to have a clear, impartial, and data-driven perspective of how factors such as COVID-19 and oil price volatility will impact the economy moving forward, and what should be done in response. This session from ITR Economics is targeted especially to the needs and interest of AHTD members and member companies, and will help us all determine the best course of action for the benefit of Industrial Automation, for you and for your business. ITR will :
  1. Look at a system of leading indicators proven to signal cyclical turns in the economy and markets.
  2. Present the outlook for the market segments most important to our industry.
  3. Assess interest rate and other financial market trends, including the latest information on stock market performance.
  4. Consider our three, five and seven-year planning needs and talk about the 2020s and how we should prepare for challenges and opportunities.
  5. Cut through the noise and present ITR's expectations of both the human and the business impact of these black swan events.
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