We are excited to share these stories of resilience during Covid-19 from our FBC Family Business Members. Over the next few weeks, you will learn about businesses in various industries nimbly facing challenges through innovation and compassion.
The need for resilience in today’s business climate is showing no signs of slowing down so, this week, we bring you a chapter from Flyers Energy, LLC, a multi-faceted company that serves as an authorized ExxonMobil distributor, producer of renewable energy, cattle waste biodigester, solar management company and investment company. It was formed in 1979 by four brothers – Tom, Walt, Steve and David Dwelle – and remains family owned and operated.
As a fuel and lubricant supplier to the transportation industry – deemed essential – Flyers remained open during the mandated closures and committed to keeping employees, known as “team members”, on full-time hours. Although Flyers was open, the team as a whole was no longer permitted back into its largest offices in Auburn, South San Francisco and Bloomington together. Immediately, 30 percent of office staff went to work from home. At that point, Flyers Energy had not finalized a formal company-wide WFH policy. “We had one foot on the dock and one on the boat. Now, after these months of practical experience, there is a policy in place,” added Haven.
“It’s the crisis moments when you assess all available resources and use and improve on the ones that best apply. Working from home, digital work tools, managing uncertainty, we already employed these things in some capacity. Everyone just stepped it up,” said Chris Haven, marketing manager.
The work-from-home model did come with some challenges. As a company with locations in 18 states, many Flyers directors and managers had experience working remotely, but for others accustomed to coming to the office every day, they had to adapt to the changes quickly. Team members at home and at the office made full use of communication tools already in place. G Suite proved invaluable. Shared documents and calendars, and Google Hangouts meetings and instant messaging allowed team members to interact at much the same regularity and pace as they were used to – albeit digitally.
Uncertainty is stressful. It was important for leadership to demonstrate stability and communicate it to the entire company. The fairly new Human Resources manager came through with “Fly”-ing colors. HR communications were explicit, regular, and reassuring. The sleepy monthly company-wide video meeting was improved to be more engaging and to happen more often, going from monthly to weekly through March, April, and May. The CEO, CFO and COO started giving reports every time, from their offices, on video. It was a reassuring contrast to the swirl of changing information on the news.
“Showing what hasn’t changed has been critical,” said Haven. “Safe driver awards, years of service recognition, and charitable donations were reported as usual.”
She encourages other family businesses to be as generous as possible and consider what is good for the company AND the team. “Share what you do know and show them what they can count on from you.”