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REW In Retrospect: Surpassing Great Challenges In 2020 And 2021

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REW In Retrospect: Surpassing Great Challenges In 2020 And 2021

To say that the past two years have been turbulent ones is an understatement. The changes to large and small businesses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have been far-reaching and unavoidable. Without a doubt, chief among these changes are trials and hardships. However, in an ironic twist, the pandemic has also brought out the best in many businesses.

These two phenomena hold very true in the eyes of our company president, Brad Pierce. I recently spoke with Pierce about REW's biggest challenges, successes, and solutions throughout 2020 and 2021.

REW's customer needs changed drastically in 2020 due to new health and safety challenges. This ultimately impacted the company's business focus and the range of products it supplies.

"Operator priorities changed from needing equipment and supplies to fighting for survival," Pierce said. "Survival meant…re-configuring their operations to focus on carry-out and delivery operations. These customer shifts meant REW needed to pivot as well including sourcing from new vendors, some of which were far outside the scope of our normal suppliers (such as t-shirt companies who were selling masks and hand sanitizer)."

REW not only expanded its product offerings to meet new and vital standards, but also stayed open throughout 2020 with full staffing—a capability that was decidedly lacking throughout last year. It was this unusual capability that made all the difference for REW in 2020.

"Because we were fully staffed, we've been able to capture a good deal of business others haven't the capacity to handle," Pierce said.

The company kept up with said business by implementing safe and sanitary procedures in the workplace, while also finding virtual options when necessary and/or desired. Given the contagiousness and the dangers of the virus, it sounds like a radical change that was difficult to implement. Pierce assures, however, that it was merely a natural evolution of the current climate and situation within the company.

"Internally, we've always had a layout that was conducive to social distancing which has meant very few changes, though of course we have added additional common sense precautions such as utilizing gloves during events such as company lunch buffets," Pierce elaborated.

Unfortunately, 2020 would not be the end of the pressing challenges faced by REW. Even as restrictions in the state of Florida eased in 2021, that same year saw two new threats to the business: supply change shortages and rising costs.

"It seemed throughout 2021 the question was not a matter of how much we could sell, it was a matter of what we could actually procure to sell," Pierce explained.

REW also continued to face COVID-related restrictions in 2021 as a result of individual health protocols.

"For instance, at some of our customer locations in New Mexico, they don't allow any visitors from outside the state without a mandatory quarantine period," Pierce elaborated.

From a particular point of view, it certainly seems as though 2021 was an even greater challenge for the company. But even so, great challenges can be met with greater solutions. Pierce shared an example of how company operations adapted to the circumstances during 2021:

"While the cost factor is largely beyond our control, we can assist with supply chain challenges by being relentless in our quest to find equipment necessary for an operator. One recent example was the search for a refrigeration unit, our team scoured inventory at 11 manufacturers – finally finding an available unit with one particular brand which we procured for the customer.  We could have just thrown up our hands and said, sorry, it's not available. Instead, our team worked hard to ensure we were able to take care of this customer's needs."

In short, REW's answer to business problems throughout the past year has been relentless dedication to the customer. There is no doubt that times are trying; there is also no doubt that it would be so much easier to wait for things to get better, or complain until they do. But as Pierce himself showed, customers won't wait until then—especially not the hundreds of restaurants in need of critical equipment and supplies for their operations and their own customers.

This mentality is the driving force behind what Pierce calls the company's greatest milestone in 2021.

"The biggest milestone for the company throughout this pandemic is actually growing in a time when "break-even" is considered success and even losing money is quite common. Anything above the neutral line is a resounding success in my opinion and makes me proud of the entire team," Pierce stated optimistically.

Indeed, thanks to continued commitment to full operations, diligence, and teamwork, the company has showed tremendous growth within the past two years. From the growth of this very blog site to the company's business abroad, REW continues to persevere, strive, and succeed in all its ventures.

"While so many companies are focused on quarterly or yearly results, we make long-term decisions based upon decades and generations – literally," Pierce reflected. "I feel REW has the stellar team of staff members whom compliment this passion while bringing solutions to customer operations which in turn will continue to drive REW's success long into the future."

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