The last column of 2021 should be a time to reflect on how great the year was in business, what new milestones we had and what lessons can be taken and positively used for a great 2022. That’s generally how you’d end most years: with some nostalgia. However, 2021, much like 2020, can now be relegated into the history books as a dud, disaster or downer.
The list of issues is long. Business shut-downs for some, especially in the events industry. Uncertainty in customer spending intentions. Labour issues. Supply backlogs. Rising costs in every facet of the business: equipment, insurance, manpower, fuel and parts. Divisive news and politics. Mental health and family issues. Not to mention the actual threat of catching a highly infectious disease that kills one percent of the people who get it.
I’m sure this list could go on and on. These ramifications affected each one of us in very different ways, but no matter how hard 2020 and 2021 tried to beat us and keep us down, they failed. Those miserable, difficult and distressing years had no idea how tough Canadians are, especially those in businesses that have always required resilience. The rental industry isn’t for the faint of heart. We know what it takes to push through and get the job done.
Through the challenges of the last 2 years, we’ve refined ourselves and our businesses. We’ve learned to do more with less, in terms of staffing, equipment, materials, capital – you name it. We’ve learned that there are new ways of doing things, whether it’s advertising on social media, contactless pickup and delivery or new equipment cleaning techniques. These past two years have shown, without a doubt, that you can teach the old dog new tricks. We’ve focused our businesses on what makes money and what we can do with less manpower. We’ve realized that the rental industry is truly important. Not only because the provincial governments across Canada deemed us essential, but because the customers returned en masse once they realized the world wasn’t coming to an end just yet. At no time that I can remember has the rental industry been more needed than it is right now. With new equipment lead times stretching out from weeks into months and even years, more and more contractors are needing to rent. Yards are empty of certain kinds of equipment, and the new models are trickling in at a rate that can barely keep up with the backlogs. Here’s your chance, raise your rates! I’m never going stop pushing for this.
Now, there’s no doubt that next year is going to have its share of challenges. There’s a good chance we’re going to have to learn to live with some of the effects of COVID-19 on our businesses permanently. But if 2022 thinks it’s going to crush us when the last two years didn’t, it’s going to learn the hard way. We may bend, but we don’t break.
Adam Snook owns JustBins, a Regina-based provider of waste disposal solutions.
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