What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID–19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail editor@apex.aero.

Mark Russell
CEO, Linstol
Location: Naples, Florida

Day 21 of working from home
Date of writing: April 22

Where are you writing from?
My home office is about a quarter mile from our official offices. I spend the mornings working from my den and then move to the back patio in the afternoon to enjoy a little bit of the outside.

Have you or anyone you know been directly affected by COVID-19?
I’ve got a very close friend who is working on the frontlines. She has flown to New York City to set up surge hospitals to help take care of the overflow of patients.

“A lot of the Linstol employees have school-age children that will be e-learning. We will convert one of our boardrooms to allow parents to bring their children into the office and establish a “classroom.”

Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
Linstol had finished a record year in 2019. We were ready to expand into new territories and with new product lines in 2020 and had anticipated another major growth year across all of our divisions.

Can you share some specific challenges your business has faced as a result of the outbreak? How did you overcome them and how can the industry learn from your experiences?
Our initial challenge was with our China-based supply chain as they worked through the early days or the coronavirus shutdown. I am pleased to say we were able to make over 90% of our deliveries on time, even with production slowdowns. I’m extremely impressed with the way our staff has continued to work with customers to overcome the variety of challenges we are facing today.

How prepared was your company to instate remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic? Any tips on how to remain productive under these new circumstances?
Within days, we were able to continue to provide seamless customer support, and that is directly attributed to our IT team, led by Jenny Bremer. We have regional Zoom calls daily and our VP’s and commercial directors have done a great job at keeping staff engaged. Virtual backgrounds have provided a daily dose of humor.

What’s one thing you would do to better prepare your business to weather a similar storm in the future?
I’m not sure we can ever prepare for having 100% of our customers grounded globally simultaneously for weeks.

Can you give an example of generosity or kindness displayed by your company or one of your colleagues during this crisis? 
As part of our Linstol in the Community program, we have been able to provide donations of PPE to various hospitals, frontline workers, local police departments, hospice workers and a variety of other individuals in need. I had the pleasure of dressing up as the Easter Bunny and visiting a few US employees’ children on Easter Sunday, practicing good social distancing, of course.

Can you describe any new working procedures that you have/will implement in light of new health and safety guidance?
We will come back to our offices slowly. Desks and workspaces will be rearranged to allow for social distancing. A lot of the Linstol employees have school-age children that will be utilizing e-learning. We will convert one of our boardrooms to allow parents to bring their children into the office and establish a “classroom” to enable those without childcare to still be able to work.

Where do you see your company or the industry in six months from now? One year?
In a recovery mode for sure. We are anticipating that the slow return to a new normal really won’t start until the third quarter of 2020 and it will most likely be a year or two before a full recovery is possible.

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.