Every once in a while, history has a way of reminding us not of our differences, but how much we have in common. Depending on how old you are, you may remember events such as the assassination of a president and then of a civil rights leader. We were brought together by the devastating loss of the Challenger space shuttle and an almost unimaginable terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Today, of course, we are faced with a different kind of attack. Like the previous historic events that preceded it, the coronavirus is changing the way we live, and will live, for the foreseeable future.

During these times it can help to step back and pause. To take a look at just how resilient we have been and remind ourselves that, this too shall pass. We don’t even have to look back that long ago to see examples. During the financial collapse of 2008, what has since been known as the Great Recession, millions of Americans were seemingly instantly put out of work. Homes were quickly foreclosed upon after just 90 days. Stores closed, factories shut down, government services scaled back. Abandoned and repossessed homes dotted just about every neighborhood. But even those times brought about change. Today, as opposed to quick foreclosures, steps are being taken to help mortgage holders and renters stay in their homes. That is a significant, and we think, positive change from just 12 years ago.

As difficult as those times were for manufacturers, including metal fabrication shops like Indiana based Wiley Metal, those who survived came out wiser. We became more prudent managers operating companies that were more efficient and leaner. We better recognized the importance of building partnerships and how critical it is that we can lean on each other in mutually beneficial relationships. We began to gain a broader understanding of how to better compete in the worldwide marketplace.

So what is it that we should learn from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Essential vs Non-Essential

As we face more “stay at home”, “stay in place” and “lockdown” orders, we are becoming more accustomed to hearing the terms “essential” and “non-essential” when it comes to employees. In some cases, these terms are being used very loosely.

It can be important to understand that if you are the major source of income for your family, your paycheck, and therefore your job is essential to your family. In other words, you really can’t blame anyone for trying to keep their jobs because it is likely essential to them. But beyond semantics, the COVID-19 crisis is helping us draw clear lines in how we depend on each other.

There has been much debate, for example, on if manufacturing is “essential” in these times. Of course, to the companies and their employees the answer is yes. For those outside the industry, perhaps a wider picture needs to be drawn. Let’s take a manufacturer that produces batteries, for example. At first, this may not seem essential in a pandemic. That is until one considers that ventilators and oxygen machines often require batteries, particularly in a power failure. The picture then begins to change.

At Wiley Metal, for example, we produce components for trailers in the trucking industry. Again, at first glance, that may not appear essential. That is until there is a shortage of toilet tissue on store shelves. Then the trucking industry we serve becomes so much more important. We also supply parts for emergency vehicles including fire trucks and ambulances. It’s not difficult to begin to see the wider picture of how different manufacturers and metal fabrication shops network in a critical fashion.

The Infrastructure of Life

It has been said that metal fabrication shops provide the infrastructure of life. We build the things that help build the things that keep us moving, progressing and advancing. The point is not to say how important, critical or “essential” we are as a metal fabrication shop, but to encourage everyone to take a moment to step back and look at the bigger picture. To realize how important metal fabrication and manufacturing are to this country, especially when it comes to building items critical to our national security and safety.

Perhaps that will be one of the great lessons of this pandemic. To gain a better appreciation of how we can support each other during these times. Whether it is ordering take-out from a local restaurant, practicing social distancing, giving blood or supporting food banks, we are in this together.

Wiley Metal has been a family owned and operated business since 1982. We’ve seen a lot in nearly 40 years in business. We take our responsibility to our community and employee family members very seriously. We’ve always been a cheerleader for American manufacturing and will continue to lead the way. When we emerge on the other side of this, and make no mistake we will, we will be stronger for it. Like in times past, it can be hard to visualize at the moment, but we will get through this…Together.

During this unusual time, what can we do for you? Do you have an idea or concept that you need help to bring to life? Contact us and let’s talk.