The Marketplace Magazine May/June 2021

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Working under unprecedented circumstances Pandemic closures bring challenges of both scarcity and overload For JMX Brands, 2020 was the both the best of years and the worst of years. Revenues at the Sarasota-based increased from 40 to 60. But for CEO Jim Miller, the year was turbulent and unsettling. “It felt like a big storm came with a lot of uncertainty,” he said during a MEDA webinar on faith and work in a pandemic. Miller, a MEDA board member, initially thought pandemic impacts could be a survival issue for his outdoor Amish furniture. JMX closed its Sarasota retail store in March and sent 90 per cent of its employees to work from home. By the end of the second quarter, JMX realized COVID was having a positive effect on its revenues. The company spent the orders and lost a lot of business because it didn’t have the capacity it needed. That led to ambitious hiring last fall. Some of the challenges JMX faced were on the supply side. The company works with 120 small woodshops in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. As JMX’s volume of orders increased, its competitors were also sending more orders to swamped small shops. Some niche products were impacted by delays and a lack of materials. Certain paint colors for poly The Marketplace May June 2021

furniture were no longer available. At one point, supplies of cedar wood dried up. Limited telephone capacity was also a challenge. It hindered both the sales process and the servicing that goes with each order. “By the end of the second quarter, we had volumes of work stacked up on top of the same number of people.” “It was very stressful, Jim Miller looks forward to thanking his workers face to face. particularly working from home in that think it’s the cumulative effect of environment. How do you handle the last year.” that tidal wave of new business Auchter, who hasn’t seen a with limited capacity? We just client in person since March 13, couldn’t keep up.” 2020, hasn’t “missed a beat” in JMX wasn’t the only Sarasota appointments thanks to online video platforms. demand. People who have struggled “We’ve been very busy, as you with different issues in life over the can imagine,” said Cindy Auchter, licensed clinical social worker, and that with the pandemic, “it’s just co-owner of Alliance Counseling been too much,” she said. “People Services, a faith-based counseling are reaching out for help.” centre. The stress and fear people Jeff Miller, Sarasota Campus have felt due to COVID has kept Manager of Dutchman Hospitality Alliance’s phones ringing every day Group, the parent company of Der with requests for appointments. Dutchman restaurant and Carlisle “It seems to be building. I Inn, faced different challenges. 6