What a year I’ve been blessed to experience.
First big thing for me is that I am alive, not suffering from dementia except for occasionally forgetting Cubs players’ first names, and I’m still writing this blog most weeks, which a few people evidently still read.
When you see your peers dying and failing, these are major things to be grateful for every single day.
Enough personal thought.
This has been a huge year in a lot of ways. From a business standpoint this has been the best year Graff-Pinkert has ever had. We paid off all our debts, gave the biggest raises, and the biggest bonuses, and still had leftovers.
This is after an awful 2020 that seemed like the end of the line for our business, and was for many. How did this happen?
First, I must admit we took advantage of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program loans, and it actually worked like it was supposed to for us. It gave us liquidity when we needed it, kept workers working, and came promptly. With government failures rampant, this was a program that worked brilliantly for smaller businesses.
COVID-19 has been a tragedy for millions of people, but from a business point of view it has been a great boon to many folks in the machining world. 2021 will be seen as the year when reshoring–bringing back work from China–became a reality and not a prediction. It happened because bigger firms finally saw the downside of dependence on China for the sake of a few pennies per part.
When you are dependent on a container traveling thousands of miles with a possibility of a lot of bad things happening on the way, your company is fragile, which means your job as CEO is in jeopardy, which means that the company private jet might have different passengers soon. Suddenly China did not look nearly as attractive, and jobs finally came back to the United States and Mexico.
Companies needed machine tools, and some of that business trickled down to our used machinery company. Also, the U.S. and the rest of the world began to live with COVID and its deviant variants.
The major professional sports franchises figured out how to maneuver around absences and quarantine. Zoom video conferencing became a lifesaver for businesses in a million different ways.
From a political point of view, 2021 will be remembered as the year China began its long-term decline as a dominant world power, as we saw with Russia in the 1970s and ‘80s.
China has had enormous vitality and growth for 25 years. The Communist regime provided economic freedom to allow the entrepreneurial and creative class to thrive as long as they stayed in line politically. But with the persecution in Tibet, the genocide and enslavement of the Uyghers, the jailing of protesters in Hong Kong, and President Xi consolidating power to become dictator for life, the failures we saw in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Venezula are visible.
Some see China now reaching for world domination. I feel fortunate to be witnessing the beginning of its long-term decline.
I wish you all a wonderful year ahead and look forward to an upbeat and hopeful 2022.
Question: What has been the highlight of your year?