116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Just a few weeks ago here in Cedar Rapids, it was late and my wife and I had zero energy left in the day to prepare dinner, so I went to one of those restaurants where you have to stand in line and then, when it’s your turn, answer a massive number of questions, almost like at the DMV, to place your order.
And all this just for a couple burritos.
Me: And could you put some in chicken on that second one?
Person behind the counter: We're out of chicken.
Person behind the counter: We had a rush earlier.
Person behind the counter: … And we have a staff shortage.
Me, after a pause: Maybe you should've paid the chickens more money.
The person behind the counter thinks, then adds: We're out of vegetables, too.
You're in business. You know. These past two years have been … unorthodox. The obstacles kept popping up, and keep popping up, for those trying to keep their doors open both small and large.
You know all the reasons for that, too — ongoing hiring and retention challenges (see above); a pandemic with its cast of Loki-like variants, each carrying baggage of often conflicting guidelines and rules; supply-chain woes for many; shifting customer preferences; and inflation headaches for all caused by a truly dizzying number of causes that include but are not limited to the above-mentioned supply-chain obstacle course, shortages of things to sell (again, see above), fuel and transportation charges that surely are going to go higher, rising wages — for some — to recruit and retain workers (yes), and an influx of federal dollars into — some — individuals’ wallets that in turn promotes more buying of decreasing stuff as well as encouraging higher prices. (See, I did pay attention during Economics classes in school.)
And these impediments have been true for business small and large.
Plus, there is the matter of a massive land war, for the first time in 77 years, in Eastern Europe. We’ll feel the consequences of that in many ways.
So now we’re faced with figuring out what to do — how to keep our organizations running, meeting the needs of our customers and doing right by out employees, business partners and community.
Essentially finding that perfect — or as close to perfect as we can get — overlap of a Big Sur-sized decision tree and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maybe we should call what we’re looking for functionally perfect?
But we can talk about that. Which brings me to this coming Tuesday, April 5.
The topic for our first panel discussion? “Doing Business in Pandemic Year 3: How Businesses Can Traction.”
This Tuesday, at 9 a.m., will see The Gazette’s initial panel in our ongoing Business Breakfast series. Yes, we continue online, so you’ll have to supply your own breakfast.
But it’ll be live and, as I promise our panelists, a knowledgeable and lively discussion among smart business people. No slides, no presentations — we’re going to talk about stuff.
Our panelists will be:
- Jessica Dunker, Iowa Restaurant Association, which promotes the restaurant and tavern sector across the state
- Michele Miller, Wells Enterprises, the nation’s largest privately held, family-owned ice cream and frozen treat manufacturer
- Chad Simmons, Iowa Black Wall Street Investment Group, the community venture capital group that invests in black-owned businesses
- Denny Van Zanten, Pella Corp., the privately held window and door manufacturing company — no prizes for guessing where it’s headquartered — with manufacturing and sales operations elsewhere in the country.
I will be the moderator.
The event will be free, but you must register. Go to the gazette.com/businessbreakfast. Our sponsor will be BerganKDV, the customized business, financial and technology solutions company.
… Oh, hey, and before I forget: Also on this coming Tuesday, after our live Business Breakfast panel, will be the first three of our 2022 “Gazette Spotlight on …” series of recorded video interviews with for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. The “Spotlight on ...” series will be sponsored by TrueNorth Cos., the insurance and financial services.
We’ll be recognizing organizations and individuals who successfully figured out how to adapt to these changing times.
In that vein, the theme of our first group will be adaptability. Go The Gazette website, thegazette.com, to watch Gazette reporters and I speak with:
- Pat Airy of Goodwill of the Heartland
- Chris Skogman of Skogman Realty
- Marty Stoll of Shuttleworth Ingersoll.
Join us, why don’t you. It can be a complicated, complex world out there.
With or without the chickens.
Michael Chevy Castranova is business editor and editor of Iowa Ideas magazine at The Gazette; (319) 398-8307; firstname.lastname@example.org,