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    2020: A Year in Review with Dan Rocconi

    In the midst of the holiday bustle and social distancing, I had an opportunity to sit down (6 feet apart) with Dan Rocconi, our company President and CEO, to briefly review his thoughts on this past year.  As with most businesses, Bixby was not immune to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The company was very quick to make sure all safety procedures were in place per CDC recommendations and has been able to maintain the overall health and morale of employees throughout the numerous changes of 2020.  As a manufacturer, we were blessed to be able to remain open and operational without any lapse in production. Overall, there is a feeling of gratefulness for our fellow employees, the company leadership, our customers, vendors, and community that have continued to support us. Bixby’s culture and core values have always been a cornerstone of the company and in the midst of these unprecedented times, it has truly shown its strength and garnered us through to a new, hopefully better, year to come. 

    In true Dan fashion, he was prompt to show his appreciation for the Bixby Team.  “It’s been a tough year as everybody knows.  We say it all the time and we mean it -- we have THE best employees in the world.  I just want to take a minute to thank them again for their dedication to their jobs, to the company, their flexibility through all of this.  It really has made a challenging situation a lot easier to manage through.” This appreciation for others is echoed to all who had a part in supporting Bixby through this challenging time. 

    One of the first questions I asked him was in regard to the unexpected changes that the company had to make at the onset of COVID-19.  I remember the consistent communication and concern from the leadership team when the impact of the virus began to reach our area in the northeast United States.  As always, the well-being and overall morale of the employees was and continues to be, a driving factor in how the company carries out business.  But without further ado, here is how the interview went:

    What changes did Bixby have to undergo as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

    Fortunately, being manufacturing we were able to stay open and the way the plant is laid out, social distancing (though it is a challenge) was not as big of a challenge as other places.  So really first and foremost was the health of our employees.  We developed plans for social distancing and protecting the employees, obviously wearing masks and temperature checks.  Those have gone very well.  As far as day-to-day manufacturing, we were able to continue that which was very important.  So overall, yeah, there were some changes but because of how we are set up they were very manageable.  It’s been great for the employees to keep the jobs going and keep the business moving forward.

    How was Bixby impacted by the economic disruptions related to the coronavirus outbreak?

    Our revenue was impacted, some of the key industries that we work with were hit hard by the COVID crisis.  We were able to manage through that very well and continue to manage through that well, but we have also found other opportunities - PPE being one example.  We are hopeful that some of those are longer term opportunities as we come out of the COVID crisis and we think those have the potential to be steady business for us which is good news.

    What positive things have you seen in the midst of this past year?

    There have been some positive things.  First of all, I really think it challenged our core values and our culture.  I think it actually strengthened those and I think that is something we will continue to carry forward. I’ve always been very proud of our company culture.   Your culture is revealed in a time of crisis and I think we’ve shown very well through that.  I love this culture here and it’s really helped sustain us through this difficult time. [The shift in focus] also gave us some other business opportunities, especially in PPE which we think can be long-term opportunities.  So, while it is a crisis and very difficult for a lot of people, we do see some positives out of this.

    What are you looking forward to in 2021?

    We’re very excited about 2021.  We have some opportunities to grow the business.  We’re seeing sales in our traditional business rebounding now, so we’re excited about the future.  We think we’ll continue to grow.  We have an amazing employee base that we’re trying to add to.  We have capabilities that we are adding and we think we’ll see some real healthy growth in 2021 so we’re excited for that.

    There is an anticipation and excitement about the coming new year for nearly everyone.  After the continuous changes and challenges of 2020, we look forward to 2021 with a hopeful view knowing that we have made it this far and that there are better things to come.  Dan ended our conversation with a similar message of hope and an urging for each of us to maintain a positive attitude no matter what may lie ahead. “I’d just like to wrap up by wishing everybody a very, very, happy new year.  I hope everyone is staying healthy through this and keeping a good attitude. I think that’s incredibly important.  At Bixby, we continue to keep a good attitude and I think that’s really helped us weather the storm. “

    As we closed the interview, I felt a little sad that the next day I would not be in the office interacting with Dan and my coworkers again.  I have been one of the employees working from home since mid-March, so the in-person interview was a nice reprieve from my virtual work-at-home life.  It has been a tough year for all, each in their own way, but it has been amazing to see how gratefulness and togetherness have managed to grow in the midst of crisis and distancing. At Bixby, we would like to thank everyone again for their kindness, business, and support in 2020.  We wish you all health, happiness, prosperity, and most of all hope in the coming new year.  We are looking forward to the new capabilities, projects, changes, and even the challenges of 2021.  Here’s to working together in the new year!