I started 2020 in the first quarter excited to get the year going. We had put together a great list of key corporate projects that we were focused on to bring improvement to our business in many areas. We finalized our budget, so all branches, regions, and sales groups were focused on what they needed to do to accomplish the goal. We were looking at moving HQ and we had robust hiring activity across the network. We had plans for a greenfield, new branch opening in Raleigh, NC, and branch expansion in our flagship Dallas market, as well as eyeing Western greenfield expansion. We integrated 6 more branch locations from a 2019 completed acquisition, then added 3 more companies to our family through acquisition with 17 locations, 120 employees, and tons of new products and opportunity in new markets! We brought on a new head of sales to organize and supercharge our organic growth to match our acquisition expansion and pull together our overall go-to market strategy. We revamped our website and brought on resources for marketing and product line up. We rolled out our first ever Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles to the entire organization through the forming of a Culture Team. This team began meeting and formulating the cultural plans for the new Continental Battery, anchoring our great organization of many company brands into a central, consistent voice. These along with many other great things all in the stew and cooking . . . and then our world and the entire country turned upside down.
Late in March, the COVID-19 pandemic put us all into crisis management mode. Being a key supplier in the essential needs business, we have stayed open at all 75 branches. Employees learned to work and be productive working from home, or on a restricted schedule, or in a very unfamiliar and uncomfortable surrounding. Supply chain focused on turning down the battery flow and focused more on PPE . . . sourcing masks, gloves, cleaning wipes, etc. We stopped travelling and leveraged technology to stay connected as individuals, teams, and departments. It seemed like every conversation was/and a bit still is around the pandemic. It has become a divisive topic . . . up there with politics and religion. Everyone is reading something and everyone has an opinion. We had to think about our business much differently than we had just weeks before. How deep would the business drop go and for how long. We made adjustments to our business and right sized for our new outlook, making the difficult decisions required by the market. We all found that growth mode is much more fun than crisis mode, but through it all, we have stayed safe, we have stayed together and we have stayed positive about the future. Times have been tough, but could be much much worse and I think all have felt relief in our stability at Continental when much of the world around has been the opposite.
As I write this, we are nearing the end of April and a crack of light has opened in the doorway. Our business volume has remained stable through April with a recent uptick near the end of the month. Our leadership is already focusing back on business management, instead of crisis management. We are thinking about getting people back to full time, back to working together, back to growing. The country is coming out of our homes and slowly back to life. This movement back to "normal" will be slow and the normal we feel may not be the normal we had in the past. Our business will not immediately be just like it was . . . but there are signs of hope and growing positive momentum. Some things may change forever but I am confident in us and Continental Battery. We have proven we can weather any storm and this storm is slowly clearing. We are poised and positioned to pick right back up from where we were at the beginning of this year. Get back on our key projects, building out our teams, organizing our company, moving our headquarters, getting our products and marketing lined up, and growing with selling more to current customers, adding more customers, and back on acquisition and greenfield expansion! Do I sound excited? I hope so - because I am!
Be smart, stay safe, and stay positive as ONE TEAM. We are getting through this together!