Look for the Helpers

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”  — Fred Rogers

We’ve seen a lot of helpers profiled in the news during the COVID-19 pandemic. Medical workers and first responders have truly been heroes working the front line of defense. But there are other helpers who have pitched in behind the scenes to help business owners navigate a strange set of circumstances that has thrown into disarray all the normal assumptions we have made about our business operations. This blog is Sain’s way to say thanks to some of the helpers in our A/E industry.

Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama (ABC Alabama) has provided timely and trustworthy advice to the construction industry focused on the special needs of employees engaged in construction activities. ABC Alabama’s safety committee has been so helpful in providing resources for supplies, guidance for implementing measures to keep employees safe while working, and answers to our questions about OSHA reporting requirements.

American Council of Engineering Companies of Alabama (ACECA) has been a true partner to all A/E consulting firms in our state, providing regular videoconferences with much needed content from attorneys and accountants that has helped us proactively manage a long list of business disruptions. With support from ACEC’s national office and industry experts, ACECA has provided guidance on PPP loans, human resource policies, and most recently best practices for how to safely re-open our offices as we transition back from teleworking. The group videoconferences have helped foster collaboration between firm leaders as we have encouraged one another.

Our local business associations and chambers of commerce have been terrific repositories of news and information. The Birmingham Business Alliance has disseminated timely notifications of government policy changes and resources for understanding how those policies impact our business. BBA leadership personally reached out to see how we were doing and ask what we needed. The entrepreneur roundtable has provided a confidential format for collaboration with business owners from a variety of industries.

Last year we participated in a training program called Find the Lost Dollars, led by June Jewell. During the pandemic, June has hosted a weekly AEC Crisis Roundtable videoconference that has brought together firm leaders from across the country to share ideas and solutions.

Perhaps most deserving of thanks are some of our longstanding consultant service providers. Dent Moses, LLP, our CPA firm, has coached us through business planning questions and the intricacies of the PPP loan program. Servis1st Bank, has provided responsive guidance on lending issues and government programs for small businesses. Mike Tate, of On the Same Page Consulting, has provided weekly encouragement through his leadership blogs and a listening ear through personal contact.

These and many other folks have helped us navigate rough waters. We are grateful for their partnership and the wisdom they have shared.