2020 was a heck of a year.
A year of change — we’re certainly not the first to point it out. Many customers switched gears over the course of the year to meet the pandemic’s challenges head-on. Some, like pet food manufacturers, worked in overdrive to meet increased demand; others reconfigured their factories to produce essential items such as hand sanitizer, masks and medical equipment.
The industries we work so closely with are incredibly resilient, determined, adaptable. In them, we see echoes of the values DuroVac holds dear.
With that in mind, we’d like to share a bit about our experiences working and living through 2020 — a year that will go down in history as a whirlwind of political turmoil, economic downturn, climate disasters, inexplicable oddities and, of course, a global pandemic.
We spoke to DuroVac President Anh-Tai Vuong for his perspective on what it took to get through the year. It’s been a tough one, but we hope our story resonates with you.
At the beginning of the year, business was booming. Anh-Tai Vuong began to serve in his official capacity as DuroVac’s president in November 2019, and the company had a renewed sense of optimism about the direction they were headed.
[The pandemic tested] our leadership, our ability to uphold the company’s vision and core values, and our fundamental human resilience.
- Anh-Tai Vuong, President of DuroVac
“The kickoff of 2020 really sank in,” says Vuong. “The economy was doing well, and leadership at our company got an adrenaline shot. We started in a good position to tackle any kind of situation.”
Then COVID-19 hit. Some factories kicked production into high gear, changed their processes or cut back on expenses to pull through. Others would shut down entirely.
Vuong saw the onset of the pandemic as a challenge requiring a human solution.
“This was very much a test of three things,” he says. “Our leadership, our ability to uphold the company’s vision and core values, and our fundamental human resilience.”
The DuroVac ethos is based upon a set of core values: family, respect, passion, decency and discipline. Those values, while not necessarily business-oriented notions, offer a fundamentally human compass to guide the company’s decisions. It’s all about treating people like people, whether they are DuroVac’s employees, customers or leaders.
DuroVac’s core values drove decisions around the most important part of the equation: the people. One of the first big changes Vuong underwent as president was the restructuring of crucial roles within the company. Instead of having one person at the top, DuroVac would have an executive team drawing on the expertise of the company’s veterans.
“That was the first big pivot of 2020,” Vuong says. “We built the human infrastructure to support our visions. We identified the people and defined the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities that would make it all possible.”
Elevating the company’s elders to higher roles, he says, made it possible to tap into the skills, experience and wisdom of DuroVac veterans to better face the pandemic’s challenges.
The pandemic revealed our optimism and our ability to deliver results.
- Anh-Tai Vuong, President of DuroVac
The next important part of DuroVac’s mission in 2020 was to expand its marketing and content development efforts. The initiative was mainly driven by two factors: process and data.
The process was all about breaking a new marketing approach into steps and connecting it with actionable data. The team used analytics to leverage data about their top five vertical markets, then rolled out a content creation plan to address those industries with relevant, targeted information.
“We tend to be like moths — attracted to the next shiny thing,” Vuong says. “But we can look at strategies to help people focus on content that will benefit them.”
To better serve customers in the midst of COVID, the company also implemented remote factory acceptance tests (FATs) conducted via video call. In that sense, Vuong says the change was a no-brainer and didn’t alter much about their process.
“We know these industries and applications so well that we don’t really need to be onsite,” he says. “Though human relationships are important to us, if we’ve seen the same pile of goo several times over our careers, we don’t need to physically travel there. We just know how to handle it.”
By the end of the year, DuroVac’s projections indicate steady growth from 2019. Though they missed the ambitious growth mark they had set for themselves pre-COVID, the company was able to continue investing in their employees throughout a financially precarious year. Vuong attributes their success in large part to the DuroVac team.
“We succeeded because we ultimately cared about our people,” he says. “We came up with game plans that always revolved around the people in our company. It’s not profit-first, but things like employee loyalty bring profit with them. I’ll carry that long into my presidency.”
That teamwork, along with continued development of software, processes and marketing programs, gives DuroVac a healthy outlook for 2021.
“The pandemic revealed both our optimism and our ability to deliver results,” he explains. “We’ve always had it in us, but with a balance of realistic and optimistic people, our team tackled the challenges brought forth by the pandemic.”
In the future, the executive team plans to continue investing in those all-important aspects of the company and make forward-thinking decisions to keep DuroVac in a strong financial position.
Yes, it was a heck of a year. But we — DuroVac, our customers, the manufacturing industry at large — came out stronger for it. We’ve all had to find our silver linings and make the best of what we have.
That’s worth celebrating as we move ahead. Whether you’re looking forward to 2021 or bracing yourself for another wild ride, we’ll be right there with you. For now, the DuroVac team wishes you a safe and happy new year.