Letters from the Industry

Overcoming Adversity: Lessons Learned Across 11 Decades of Challenging Times

Looking back over our 116+ years of business experience, we realize now more than ever how much we have seen, and how much the tough challenges we have faced along the way have helped us to learn through adversity. 

Looking back over our 116+ years of business experience, we realize now more than ever how much we have seen, and how much the tough challenges we have faced along the way have helped us to learn through adversity.

We’ve managed to grow despite facing the tragedies of two World Wars, the Great Depression and the Great Recession, not to mention the global flu pandemic of 1918.  These experiences, one at a time, have gradually helped us forge a spirit of confidence, knowing that we can improve and grow through the worst of times until the world finally rights itself.  We’ve found that uncertainty certainly causes new problems to emerge and the rules and status quo to become upended. This can present opportunity though, creating a time for renewal and transformation like none other, a time to give thought to future-proofing your business for decades to come.

When Patrick contacted us to talk about our experience during this pandemic and the economic downturn, we thought it might be helpful to share just a bit of that knowledge in the hopes that something might inspire those who are struggling and could be feeling faint of heart.

We are a brand that loves to experiment, and nothing inspires a pioneering spirit more than facing a landscape that will be forever altered.  The more frequently we face situations such as these and endure the hardships they entail, the more our collective wisdom always seems to grow, as both a brand and as an industry.

In our experience, even under normal circumstances, healthy growth is created when you rethink what others consider to be “normal” and endeavor to find the unusual, or even unexpected, solution.  Since 1904, we’ve challenged ourselves to discover new ways for our fasteners and tools to be used to connect a multitude of materials which only serve a purpose once the connection has been made.  We’d like to share our experiences here with a view to connect in a different way now, connecting to help our industry partners.

Here are some key takeaways we’ve identified over these many years that can help us all as we manage our way through this new landscape:

  • Become a pioneer.  It’s a new time to explore what to many might seem to be a barren landscape, a new chance to step up to lead.  It’s easier if you’re a company that is accustomed to thinking outside of the box and solving complex problems.  If that’s not engrained in your DNA, then now is the time to challenge that culture. In times of chaos, intuition and imagination serve as our guide to help us take engaging ideas and use them to shape our new reality.  As the situation becomes increasingly cluttered and confused, take a moment to clean your lenses and change your perspective, taking stock of what is technically possible and what people actually need.  Eventually the clear path forward through treacherous terrain will come into focus.
  • Be creative.  When times are difficult, and we mean really tough, you need to have a spirit to create, believing that innovation is the road that leads through tough times and into the future.  Ordinary solutions aren’t going to work in extraordinary circumstances.  Continual reinvention, especially when changing your reality is a necessity, is essential.  And as you experiment and fail and then try again and eventually succeed, be sure you’re creating things with persistent value.  If not, then all you have is a short-term solution that won’t be able to see you or your customer’s through to the other side of better days ahead.
  • Speed will be your advantage.  Moving quickly will be your best strategy, since the spoils go to those who can adapt and implement first.  Even if you’re not 100% ready, don’t hesitate to get started.  Followers generally end up coming in last when there is too little to go around.
  • Trust is essential.  Through the many generations, we understand the feeling of obligation to preserving the family and a company’s legacy and have a deep sense of social responsibility as well.  You need to have faith that your people will do what it takes to help the company survive, and they need to believe that their employer has their best interests at heart for their families to remain safe and secure from the turmoil surrounding them.  Your customers need to know you’re reliable, trusting that you will “go to the mat” for them.  They need to know that you understand how vital they are to your own survival, but also that you believe that doing good is just the right thing to do.
  • Don’t compromise on the quality of your product or your thinking.  Some might be tempted to cut corners as funds run dry, but at the end of the day your reputation might be all you’ll have left.  If you are a brand your customers can rely upon, the measure of your character can never be bankrupted.
  • Lean on your experience.  Even if you’ve just opened your doors, you no doubt have a lifetime of experience, plus access to trusted advisors who are willing to share theirs with you as well.  Through four generations of the Beck family’s guidance, we understand this more than most – respect the lessons learned by previous generations, especially if they seem to have done a lot of things right.
  • Challenge your strategies and challenge your own operations.  As we figure out how to adapt to the changing world around us, there is lasting opportunity in taking a look inward.  When your systems are tested, you’ll be able to find where they are weakest and need to be strengthened.  You might even discover new ways to help your customers orient themselves to this new reality, ways that can help you both emerge stronger.
  • Build long term relationships.  This is something that we believe is imperative, helping your vendors and customers every day, no matter what the economic conditions may be.  When you help in the good times, people know you’ll be there in the bad times, too.  And based on that positive equity you’ve built, they’re more likely to be there for you when you need them as well.
  • Maintain your sense of humor.  Another secret to our longevity is never taking ourselves too seriously, since humor is essential to everyone’s positive state of mind.  If you’ve seen our ads, you’ve no doubt seen that we also enjoy a bit of humor along the way!

So there you have it, advice from over 11 decades of good times and bad.  In April, we put our own advice into motion, creating detailed new safety concepts that significantly exceed the statutory requirements for the regions in which we operate, providing a reliable and strong basis for the gradual resumption of our operations.  These guidelines include safety measures within our production facilities to ensure the protection of our employees, and also measures to ensure safe shipment and delivery of our products to our customers.  For our distributor customers who have been impacted by supply chain issues, we’ve shifted to use our domestic warehouse facilities to ship direct to their customers when necessary.

The dynamics of this pandemic continue to pose a threat to so many of us in all parts of the world. As the world eventually begins to resolve itself back to a new normal, it is our hope that we will have helped our customers in some small way to manage through this time with calm, and purposeful certainty that all will, in fact, be okay.  At the very least, we will no doubt all be able to show the world that we maintained with an attitude of renewed grit and determination.  At our best, we’ll come through this retaining our dedication to life, technology, and the ideas that can create a bright future ahead for all of us!

In closing, we’ll share one of our favorite quotes for times such as we’re experiencing now:

Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” (William Barclay)

We hope and pray that all of you and your families will remain safe and healthy.

In light of current events, BPD e-Weekly will now feature guest contributors offering the industry their thoughts, perspectives and advice. This is NOT paid advertising but rather part of our service to the industry in contrast to the ongoing 24/7 news cycle we are faced with. If you have thoughts to share, please send them to padams@526mediagroup.com. Take care of yourselves, and each other.

Tami Kessler and Vince Almond

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