A few days ago, a customer said to me, “Are we having fun yet?” It was an off-hand remark made as he was passing by putting on his mask, but I think it might be my slogan for 2020. The year may not have gone as planned, but it hasn’t been all bad. There have been some high points, some fun parts and some exciting moments. For me, the important thing is to focus on the things that have brought us together in our businesses, our communities and as an industry.
As if functioning during a global pandemic wasn’t enough, many of us have dealt with other issues that have arisen this year. I know that those of us in Iowa and the Midwest experienced the worst storm with the most damage in history, and it even had a name, a derecho. Areas around our truckstop were without power for nearly a week, and since we were one of the only exits open, traffic was backed up for miles. It was one heck of a Monday, but we had electricity, and we were able to meet our customers’ needs. As we were getting through the day, I tried to focus on the positive.
On that particular day, as with many others, our staff pulled together to keep things running, clean things up, repair damage and serve professional drivers, locals and the traveling public. We will be cleaning up branches and trees for months. On a broader scale, our team has continued to work together to serve customers even as social distancing requirements and safety precautions have changed how we operate. As an industry, I’ve seen NATSO members share ideas and inspiration to ensure that we can continue to function as individual businesses and as an industry. NATSO’s board of directors is conducting board calls every two weeks, so everyone remains current on the state of the industry. I have never seen this type of on-the-fly, frequent communication before. We have also been conducting regular calls with NATSO’s Chairman’s Circle members who have shared valuable insights into consumer demands and trends.
All of that speaks to our ability to come together for the good of truckstops and travel plazas across the country as well as the drivers we serve. There are high points, and these days aren’t all terrible, even if they are all tiring.
I know you have your own first-hand accounts of the good, the bad and the ugly moments that have arisen during 2020. Again, I wonder, ‘Are we having fun yet?’
I look forward to hearing about your high and low points and learning how NATSO can continue serving you during this time. We must continue to pull together and seek out the good during this unprecedented year.
Thank you for your continued support of your fellow operators, our industry suppliers and our association.
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