The New Normal

Hamilton County Businesses Adjust to a Post Covid-19 World

By Ann Craig-Cinnamon

To say businesses in Hamilton County, like everywhere, have been negatively affected by Covid 19 is the understatement of the century.  While some have shut down permanently, many others have reopened with major adjustments in the way they do business.  We talked to business owners and managers from a wide range of industries in an informal survey to learn how much harm the virus has caused and what their plans are moving forward.

Sahm’s Restaurant Group 

Sahm’s has been in business since 1986 and has multiple locations.  Owner-Operator Eddie Sahm says during the statewide shutdown they offered curbside pickup at five of their locations in a contactless marketplace concept and they developed a system for delivery.  Their catering side became a second hub for Second Helpings and they served over 100,000 meals to those in need.

Sahm says the virus has shown how fragile the restaurant industry is.  His company’s plan for the future includes expanding ways to get people food, newly designed packaging for carryout, and grocery options that include their own baked and brewed goods and homemade sauces.

His company prides itself on being neighborhood-based and hopes people recognize restaurants are more than just food and drinks. “We provide texture to the fabric of a community. A place for people to gather, celebrate, escape, grieve, and make connections.”

Travel Leaders Carmel

Travel Leaders has been in business for 37 years and franchise owner and President Ann Waters says within the course of two weeks her company faced a 95% drop in business as well as cancellations of nearly all of the business previously created.  “We continue to have to navigate daily changes to policies by governments and our suppliers worldwide plus a reluctance and even the inability to travel internationally on the part of our clients,” she says.

Waters envisions more work being done remotely in the future which opens up the possibility of reducing facilities costs and putting those funds into training and client support.

Estridge Homes

Estridge Homes has been in business for 50 years.  Vice President Clint Mitchell reports construction was deemed a critical industry and home construction continued but at a slower pace to provide safe working environments.  Estridge offices were closed during the shutdown with staff working from home. He says despite slower customer traffic they are finding that many people still need to find a home or are still interested in moving for a variety of reasons including taking advantage of low interest rates.

Mitchell says Estridge is ramping up a different model for house shopping.  “We have taken this time to make it easy to shop for our homes remotely, via 3D virtual tours, live video, and private and safe home tours.  Going forward, we are also looking at ways we can create even more options for our buyers to work-from-home and have multiple private work and living spaces in their home.”

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