It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
This time last year, the team here at AGiLE Business Media was feeling decidedly upbeat about 2020. Business was humming along nicely, we were about to launch a powerful new digital publishing platform, and the pieces of our long-term growth strategy were falling into place. Plus, we were gearing up for a couple of major organizational changes—one we would soon announce to the market and one we were keeping under wraps for the time being.
We unveiled the first of those changes in early December, when we announced the promotion of Publisher Gary Master to the role of COO. It was the most well deserved promotion I’ve been honored to make. Gary has proved to be one of the most talented publishing professionals out there. Not only is he smart and savvy, with an enviable work ethic, but he is also a kind, thoughtful, and compassionate person—exactly the person to lead our enterprise into the future. We were all excited about the prospect of meeting up with him at MHI’s upcoming Modex Show in Atlanta.
So, as we rang in 2020, we were looking forward to what was shaping up to be a record year. The stars were aligned. What could go wrong?
The first inkling that 2020 was not going to go according to plan came at the beginning of March. During the week leading up to Modex, I was in Washington, D.C., covering the spring meeting of the Industrial Truck Association. While I was there, news began filtering in that a lethal virus first reported in China had made its way to these shores. On the second night of the meeting, DC Velocity Group Publisher Jim Indelicato and I were having dinner with George Prest and John Paxton, MHI’s CEO and COO, respectively. Sometime between the main course and dessert, both John’s and George’s phones started to blow up. Their team, already on the Modex show floor in Atlanta, was calling to alert them to a brewing crisis: Several exhibitors were canceling at the last minute, citing health and safety concerns. By the time the bill came, George and John had changed their travel plans and booked seats on the first flight out to Atlanta in the morning.
It was at that moment that I realized this virus was something to be taken seriously. Very seriously.
In the end, the Modex Show went on, albeit in slightly diminished form. But while we were there, the public health crisis escalated. By the second day of the show, March 10, it was clear to everyone that had the event been scheduled a week later, it would have been canceled.
Then, on March 11 and 12, the Covid-19 dominoes really began to fall. Broadway shut down. Major League Baseball suspended spring training. Disney closed its parks and resorts worldwide. Whatever was happening was serious, and it was happening fast.
At AGiLE Business Media, our focus shifted to responding to the crisis and building a continuity plan. But more challenges awaited.
On April 3, tragedy struck close to home. Jim Indelicato died in his sleep of heart failure. His death was not Covid-19 related, but it nonetheless compounded the misery that we had come to know as 2020.
We had no choice but to forge ahead. We had built a plan to maintain business continuity, and we worked the plan. And it succeeded. As a result, we enter the new year in solid shape, if not a bit weary.
As for that other announcement, well, that one’s a bit personal. In a year that has gone entirely off-script, I’m bucking the trend and actually sticking to a script I drafted back in college. On Dec. 31, I will be ending this chapter of my journalistic career, stepping down as group editorial director of DC Velocity and CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly.
Admittedly, the events of 2020 did cause me to briefly reconsider my plans. In the end, though, watching the AGiLE team respond to the crisis—and seeing Gary pilot the ship through the storm—convinced me I could safely stick with the original script, right down to the closing line of this column, which was selected over 20 years ago: “The time is gone. The song is over. Thought I’d something more to say …”