Editorial: In search of silver linings amidst the dark clouds of the pandemic
By Patrick Flannery
Overall, I’m proud of how we’ve reacted to the pandemic.
By Patrick Flannery
Future generations are going to come up with a name for this summer and it’s hard to know which of the great calamities facing the world will take top billing. Coronavirus Summer? The Great Pancession? The Season of Protest? The Trumpocalypse? (OK, I stole that last one from David Frum).
Like 2008, Canada seems to be getting a milder strain of the American flu. Our death rate from the virus hasn’t been as high and our more generous and evenly applied relief funds seem to be keeping most people from penury. The protests here have been largely smaller, peaceful and with less violence and property destruction. Our leaders have come off mostly OK most of the time, with only normal levels of fecklessness and duplicity, and nothing beyond the ordinary efforts to skirt the institutions of democracy and undermine rule of law. Business as usual, really.
Obviously, the economic toll has been devastating and we haven’t even seen the end of the beginning of that…but at least our sector has been able to keep operating at some level. Some fenestration folks in some areas have reported virtually no impact, in fact. The concern, though, is what happens when the overall slowdown starts to bite and the orders that were in the pipeline prior to the pandemic run out. It is to be fervently hoped that there is no major second wave and that we can continue on the slow path to reopening that has started around the country. I remain optimistic, even in the face of some experts who know more than me, that our economy can achieve a sharp recovery by the end of the year. I’ve just seen it too many times before. When I graduated university in 1993 you couldn’t find a job. Five years later the North American economy had celebrated its longest, strongest streak of growth ever. The wars following 9/11 were supposed to cripple economies for decades. Instead, the markets were at unheard-of highs before the 2008 crash. The following Great Recession was supposed to be the end of western civilization as we know it. Instead, we went into another long stretch of growth that took us well beyond the old levels. I don’t want to downplay the experiences of anyone who has had to make painful decisions about their staff or their business, but I think overall things will ultimately be fine.
For some evidence in support of that, see our cover story. We collected stories from window and door companies around the country and their resilience and innovation in the face of these crazy circumstances is inspiring.
There’s no question that change and upheaval are in the air everywhere, and not all of it is bad. Sometimes chaotic circumstances create opportunity. Fenestration Canada inked a partnership arrangement with the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, giving all members a complementary membership in the CFIB. I’ve been impressed with how the CFIB has stepped forward as a resource and voice for Canadian business during the pandemic, and I think this alliance will serve FenCan members well.
Another change has been the creation of a light construction media group at our publisher, Annex Business Media, with me guiding the editorial and Danielle Labrie bossing us all around. That group comprises this magazine, Glass Canada, Canadian Rental Service and Canadian Contractor. We’ve welcomed a new associate editor, Sukanya Ray Ghosh, to the group, and acquired Renovation Contractor magazine to fold into the Canadian Contractor brand. So now we can help you reach not only each other but also one of your main customer markets: renovation contractors and custom homebuilders.
It’s a wild time, for sure, but it’s not all bad.