Businesses and community leaders are all answering the call to take action in a troubled time. Here are some of the iconic ways that Fishers-area businesses and community leaders are responding to COVID-19
Chef Carlos Salazar, owner of Lil Dumplings restaurant at the Fishers Test Kitchen, and friend of the Iconic team, has been cooking all day every day, by himself, to fill food orders. Like all Indiana restaurants, Lil Dumplings and the others at the Fishers Test Kitchen were asked to close down in-person dining in March, and move to take-out and delivery options only in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For a restaurateur, this is far from an ideal situation, but Carlos has kept cooking for his customers. By partnering with delivery services like DoorDash and GrubHub, Carlos has managed to respond to the needs of customers, while keeping himself and his patrons safe.
Carlos’ strength resides in being quick on his feet. In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has changed life in the United States dramatically, and almost every industry has been forced to make big adjustments to how they conduct business, fast. As the world searches for ways to cope with the devastating effects of this pandemic, we would like to spotlight some local business leaders, who, like Carlos, have stepped up their game quickly to support the needs of the community during this chaotic time.
Even though food supplies have changed regularly and Carlos has been forced to adapt his menu as ingredients become unavailable, Carlos has impressively managed the situation from the beginning. Never has the Iconic team witnessed a more innovative chef. His creativity and unique culinary skills have brought joy to the community by way of new dishes that break the monotony of staying inside 23 hours a day. Dinner has now become something to look forward to every day as an exploration of new culinary treats provided by a master local chef whose hard work and dedication deserves our support.
Iconic in healthcare…
Right now, caring for the sick is an essential concern all over the country. COVID-19 has strained hospitals’ resources, but many area businesses have taken astonishingly quick action to mitigate the damage, protect healthcare workers, and treat patients. For example, Vendorjump CEO Michael Slate, along with local tech companies, citizens, area churches and Launch Fishers have raised more than $300,000 dollars to provide KN-95 masks to healthcare workers at area hospitals. As of March 29th, they’ve purchased 250,000 masks, which are currently on their way. Their new goal is to raise $1.4 million dollars to get more than a million masks, which will have a truly meaningful impact on the health of those working with patients, and contribute directly to stemming the tide of novel coronavirus cases.
Another case of area businesses moving quickly to support the healthcare industry is exemplified in Roche’s quick action in getting tests approved and shipped out to hospitals across the country. Roche, whose U.S. headquarters is located right in Indianapolis, shipped 400,000 tests to diagnose COVID-19 on March 13th. They are currently equipped to distribute millions of tests per month.
And we can’t neglect to mention that as of March 23rd, Eli Lilly and Company began offering drive-through testing for COVID-19 toIndianapolis area health care workers. The testing is free as a service to the healthcare community. They have effectively turned their research labs into diagnostic labs to run tests for the Indiana State Department of Health. In addition to protecting the safety of healthcare workers, this testing will certainly provide more useful data on the virus for scientists to study in efforts to produce vaccines, treatments, and other countermeasures.
Obviously the bravest and most iconic response to the virus is the response of healthcare workers, who are adjusting to challenges by the minute. No one has had to be more quick on their feet in assessing and responding to a situation than the doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other medical staff keeping hospitals and care centers going.
Iconic in technology…
Though it often seems that society has a love-hate relationship with computer technologies, in the current crisis, these technologies have been literal lifesavers. By giving people access to information quickly, computer technologies have allowed healthcare workers and scientists to share and collate data critical to saving patients. And by making it possible for people to continue working during social distancing, computer technology has made it possible for us to keep a functional infrastructure. Just think of how much more difficult this situation would have been if it had occurred thirty or even twenty years ago.
Local technology companies are responding to the crisis by creating innovative tools that allow people to stay safe if they must continue to work, and stay connected if they must work apart. Emplify, an employee engagement improvement software company in Fishers created a free tool for managers to “assess the well-being, remote readiness, and specific needs of their teams during the COVID-19 outbreak.” It’s really a tool for gauging the health of your team, while maintaining individual privacy, and it provides free access to resources that help managers deal with crisis situations.
Many local technology companies have offered business programs and software free of charge, recognizing the now-essential nature of their products. Sharpen Technologies, the Omni channel cloud contact center platform, announced on March 19th the launch of the Sharpen Quick Start program to enable businesses and non-profits to take advantage of the cloud and get customer service agents working from home in a matter of 48 hours. If you’re a for-profit business, the set up and first sixty days of the service is free, and if you’re a non-profit, the service is free for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. Creating and offering free essential software solutions is a kind, community-minded thing to do no matter what, but doing so as a tech company can create lasting relationships. Our sage, Donald Miller, always says that it never hurts to be known as a generous business.
Though you absolutely don’t have to be a tech company dealing with health care to make a difference, tech companies that deal directly with health-related businesses are indeed uniquely positioned to help. The Indianapolis-based hc1 is a bioinformatics company that collects and analyzes data from labs and pharmacies in order to get insights that improve healthcare. Their business relationships and existing technology give this business the opportunity to respond in an impactful way, and so they have. hc1 worked with a coalition of laboratory and technology partners and created The CV19 Lab Testing Dashboard. Along with companies like AWS, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce, hc1 has committed to sharing resources, plans, and information with those in science and medicine who are trying to combat this illness. Without getting too bogged down in tech jargon, what this basically means is that these companies are pooling their resources to gather and analyze data such as COVID-19 testing rates, de-identified results and demographic information. Accurate data delivered in a timely way will be one of the world’s best weapons in fighting this disease, so this contribution is nothing short of iconic.
Iconic in leadership…
Though times like these are trying, they often serve to highlight the talent and dedication of good leaders. The leadership shown by the City of Fishers and many of its officials and public servants has been exemplary. Their response to an unprecedented public health crisis has been efficient, caring, and likely life-saving. Many resources have been provided to the citizens of Fishers to help them deal with the crisis, including the implementation of a hotline for those experiencing symptoms, a daily assessment of the availability of food in food banks, and a plethora of resources for small businesses and non-profits in the area. This is just a fraction of the response measures taken by the city, though. Any resources or guidelines a community member might need to access have been compiled here , to give residents vital information in one location.
Meanwhile, Fishers Fire and Police Departments are working as they always would trying to keep citizens safe, but of course it’s not exactly “business as usual.” First responders at the Fishers Fire Department, like nurses and doctors, are taxed with an influx of public need and increased personal risk. Fishers Police are charged with protecting a population that is suffering from increased levels of stress. But this didn’t stop them from heading up to Saxony Hospital’s parking lot and flashing their lights while blasting “Eye of the Tiger” in support of health care workers earlier in April. It also didn’t stop them from taking the time to drive by a little boy’s house to show off their cool cars and wave to him on his birthday. These sort of efforts to model compassionate behavior during a difficult time are noteworthy and make them iconic in the realm of community leadership.
Iconic in food service…
We began this blog talking about the food service industry, and that’s where we’re going to end it–while our local tech and medical industries obviously have an important role, the response of businesses in EVERY industry is vital, both in terms of responding effectively for the public good, and in terms of their survival as a business. The local restaurant business also serves up some excellent examples of iconic responses to COVID-19.
Restaurants all over the region are finding innovative ways to feed their patrons and respond to the change in customer need. Everyone needs to eat, and while under normal circumstances, many of us consider eating out to be a luxury, not everyone can cook for themselves. Community members who are elderly or immunocompromised, those with young children, and those who are caring for sick or elderly loved ones are depending more than ever on restaurants and grocery delivery services to get them the food they need. Fishers restaurants have been especially proactive in terms of coming up with ways to get people fed, and keep their businesses going.
Sometimes the simplest innovations make all the difference. For example, Four Day Ray is one local restaurant that has adapted their menu to current community needs. They started offering “family style” portions and pricing, knowing that customers need food in larger quantities because they are going out to get food less frequently in order toavoid unnecessary exposure. And when you pick up your order, you don’t even have to go inside. They’ll bring your meal out to you, so there’s as little contact as possible. It’s strange that in this particular moment, “good service” means low interaction, but those businesses adjusting to this new definition are seeing the benefits.
Still other restaurants in Fishers have entirely pivoted their businesses to respond to the effects of the virus and the need to socially distance ourselves. Sahm’s Restaurants, Big Lug Canteen, and Half Liter BBQ have worked together and pooled resources to become Sahm’s Neighborhood Marketplace and Pantry . The idea is to provide the community with large portions of prepared foods, but also give them access to the ingredients the restaurant has access to, so patrons can get basic groceries needs met as well. Customers can get the variety and quantity of food they need for the whole week, avoiding as much contact as possible. The new marketplace’s website says “Our main goal is to encourage everyone to stay home and help us flatten the long term impact this virus will have on our neighbors.” Rather than wish for a different situation, these restaurants have adapted to the new needs that have sprung from a new situation.
Businesses exist to meet the needs of their customers. So in this moment, the most successful area businesses are asking themselves, “what do people need now?” and trying find innovative ways to respond to that need. The faster businesses are able to adjust their thinking, it seems, the greater their chances of survival in a world that needs innovative people more than ever. We recognize and respect these businesses for their iconic responses.
And we also know this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of out-of-the-box reactions to the current situation. Has your business done something iconic to respond to COVID-19? Please share it with us, so we can expand our list of iconic, community-minded business leaders.