It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
This time last year, the team here at AGiLE Business Media was feeling upbeat about 2020. Business was humming along nicely, and we were gearing up for a couple of major organizational changes.
We unveiled the first in early December, when we announced the promotion of Publisher Gary Master to the role of COO. It was the most well-deserved promotion I’ve ever been honored to make. Gary is not only smart, hardworking, and savvy, he is also kind, thoughtful, and compassionate—exactly the person to lead our enterprise into the future.
So, as we rang in 2020, we were looking forward to what was shaping up to be a record year. The stars were aligned. What could go wrong?
The first inkling that 2020 was not going to go according to plan came at the beginning of March. During the week leading up to MHI’s Modex show, I was in Washington, D.C., covering the spring meeting of the Industrial Truck Association. While I was there, news began filtering in that a lethal virus first reported in China had made its way to these shores. On the second night of the meeting, I was having dinner with George Prest and John Paxton, MHI’s CEO and COO, respectively. Sometime between the main course and dessert, both John’s and George’s phones started to blow up. Their team, already on the Modex show floor, was calling to alert them to a brewing crisis: Several exhibitors were canceling at the last minute, citing health and safety concerns.
It was at that moment that I realized that this virus was something to be taken seriously. Very seriously.
In the end, the Modex Show went on, albeit in slightly diminished form. But while we were there, the public health crisis escalated. By the second day of the show, March 10, it was clear to everyone that had the event been scheduled a week later, it would have been canceled.
Then the COVID-19 dominoes really began to fall. Broadway shut down. Major League Baseball suspended spring training. Disney closed its parks and resorts worldwide. Whatever was happening was serious, and it was happening fast.
On April 3, tragedy struck close to home. Jim Indelicato, SCQ’s group publisher, died in his sleep of heart failure. His death was not COVID-19 related, but it nonetheless compounded the misery that we had come to know as 2020.
We had no choice but to forge ahead. Luckily, we had built a sound plan to maintain business continuity, and we worked that plan hard as we—among other things—helped CSCMP take their annual conference and exhibition virtual. In the end, we enter the new year in solid shape, if not a bit weary.
As for that second organizational announcement, well, that one’s a bit personal. In a year that has gone entirely off-script, I’m bucking the trend and actually sticking to a plan I drafted in college. On December 31, I will be stepping down as group editorial director of DC Velocity and Supply Chain Quarterly.
Admittedly, the events of 2020 did cause me to briefly reconsider my plans. In the end, though, watching Gary and the AGiLE team’s response to the crisis convinced me I could safely stick with my original script, right down to the closing line of this column, which was selected over 20 years ago: “The time is gone. The song is over. Thought I’d something more to say …”