Visiting some of the companies in the Top Companies list with Joe Arnett and David John is always a pleasure. This year it was more of a pleasure than last year — since our 2020 meetings were virtual.
But if there is an image that stays in my mind, it is standing in the parking lot of Pacific Islands Club in late October after our meeting with Ben Ferguson, general manager of PIC.
We were approaching the end of the workday and Happy Hour — which under normal circumstances in previous years would have seen a bustling Tumon. In the “new normal,” the silence was deafening. It was a case of the lights are on, but is anybody home?
Those businesses in the Top Companies List in this issue are looking forward and planning — even if it’s with Scenario A or Scenario B, as we all solidify our business plans for 2022.
This year we are also including the results of a survey of small businesses in our coverage, since these enterprises are at the ground zero of doing business in our communities. We have obviously lost some of them, or they or some of their lines are comatose until our source tourist markets return.
Many of our businesses have had to slim down, become creative and sway with the punches that came our way to maintain even a heartbeat. The infusion of aid from federal and local governments has kept some of our businesses breathing during lockdowns in the islands that continue to this day.
But there is innovation out there. One of my local mom and pop stores has rearranged its stock so most sought-after items (like milk) are easy to spot at the front of the store. The snacks range is now adjacent to the line for the cash register. Maybe in recognition of the continued trend of working from home? Either way, it’s hard to resist those packs of pistachios.
As I write, five of us have organized a date for dinner. We are all executives in small businesses. It will be wonderful to break bread together with people I haven’t seen in a while, and to support another business while we do so.
It takes intent and planning, but our economies are still hanging on, with signs of life —even signs of social life.