What we learned during the pandemic and our hope for 2022

Having hope and optimism for the future can be a challenge when you’re in the fifth wave of a pandemic that’s just entered its third year. Yet as humans, aren’t all of us hardwired — some more than others — to look for what meaning and hope we might gain from the past two years and also move forward and plan, anticipating better times ahead?

At Vanderwell, our business has stayed open throughout the pandemic to meet the demand for high-quality lumber for buildings and other essential uses. The success we’ve enjoyed has come down to three things — employees, government support, and high lumber prices.

Of those three reasons, employees, more than anything else, are the reason we have continued to operate and be successful.

Like companies everywhere, employees have modified their behaviours in the workplace to prevent the transmission of the virus — eating lunch alone, no tailgate meetings at the beginning of every shift to touch base and even to say hello, and of course, always wearing a mask. Such changes take a toll and Vanderwell isn’t unique – we all know family members and friends who are in the same situation in other businesses and industries.

Employees’ efforts to guard against the pandemic made all the difference whether we stayed open or had to close all or parts of our business.

For sure, the provincial governments’ initial actions that designated Albertas’ lumber industry an essential service, and common-sense guidelines of how to interact and work together provided the foundation for us to move forward. Then, the record-high prices in the first 18 months of Covid gave the industry a big boost. We all knew those prices wouldn’t last, and they didn’t; they were quite unexpected during a pandemic.

At the end of the day, it’s truly those who work at Vanderwell who deserve our biggest thanks for most of our success over the past two years. We expect when the pandemic ends, or at least becomes manageable without all the current restrictions, that all businesses will look back and thank employees for their dedication and commitment during a truly challenging time.

According to Alberta Health Services projections, it sounds like we still have a few weeks before the Omicron variant reaches its peak in Alberta. The hope is that Omicron’s less serious effect, particularly for those vaccinated, is an indication that the virus’s grip is weakening.

As we near the end of January, the first month of the New Year, we want to wish all residents of the Slave Lake region and everyone, wherever you live, a safe and meaningful 2022.

Ken Vanderwell – CEO

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