World turned upside down

Posted on May 13, 2020 :: Editors Note
Jessica Thiel
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

As I sit down to write this, I can’t help but reflect on how much has changed since I wrote my last editor’s note. Yes, COVID-19 was on my radar then, tugging at my consciousness but not front and center. The weekend before change began to sweep through the state, my family and I dined in a crowded Oshkosh Culver’s and packed into a Wisconsin Herd game alongside hundreds of other fans. Watching our state transform in a week’s time and seeing the shock waves continue to roll through was surreal to say the least.

Coming to grips with life change on this level is a journey. For me, the first weeks were like going through Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief in miniature on a daily basis. I would cycle through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. To a degree, I’m still going through the phases with some regularity, but as I type this from my home office/bedroom, I’m getting closer to acceptance.

In this month’s cover story on page 8, I look at how the pandemic is affecting some of the region’s manufacturers and the industry as a whole. While many of us, for now, are toiling from makeshift home offices, most manufacturing operations have been deemed essential and carry on. Countless manufacturing workers set aside fear and bravely head into work to continue to produce the products we all rely on each day: food, sanitizing wipes, paper products and, perhaps most importantly, supplies desperately needed to help keep our front-line health care workers safe. Times often feel bleak, but I feel hopeful when I reflect on the selfless efforts of so many and the innovation and perseverance manufacturers are displaying. Manufacturers and manufacturing workers, we can never thank you enough.

This issue is packed with coverage about how COVID-19 is affecting manufacturers. MaryBeth Matzek’s Back Office story on page 17 looks at the steps manufacturers are taking to keep workers safe. Turn to page 20 for a look at how the pandemic is affecting supply chains and how companies might better prepare themselves for future disruption. On page 22, Insight From contributor Lisa Cruz, owner of Red Shoes Inc., shares advice for crisis planning and communication.

The world has changed, and as many wiser than I have posited, it’s unlikely to return to what it was. That idea can be daunting and sad but also freeing and invigorating. If I may get personal for one more moment, the way this all has affected me most deeply is that my oldest son was set to graduate from high school in early June. He, we and so many others in our position are left with uncertainty and much sorrow. Benjamin Joseph, this one’s for you. These setbacks do not begin to eclipse all you have accomplished. To you and to all high school and college seniors, our hearts are with you.