Americans are all dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and must work together to stem the tide of this terrible virus. As business owners we also have the daunting responsibility of saving our businesses and preserving jobs for our employees.
When I was in my early 20s, my father told me that we can only manage things that are in our control. I now find myself telling my children — who are now adults — the very same thing. Taking steps to help control the coronavirus is something that we can all do. It means protecting ourselves and our businesses. This requires us to make some tough decisions.
In my case these decisions center around curtailing operations, furloughing employees and protecting those that continue to work. The governor of Kentucky shut down restaurants and other businesses, which included my riverboat operation. As a result, for the first time in my life, I had to tell employees, many who have worked in my company for 30 or 40 years, that they had been furloughed. This included members of my family. It was a tough pill to swallow.
I have been a member of the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) since 1980. In those four decades, we have faced many challenges. Unfortunately, the previous challenges seem to pale in comparison to what’s going on now with the coronavirus pandemic.
To try to keep things in perspective, I speak almost every day with PVA staff and many of the association’s members. PVA staff and board members have been working around the clock to disseminate information to members on how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The PVA Safety and Security Committee has been gathering resources with best practices to make available to members.
In addition, PVA urged President Trump and Congress to provide emergency assistance to its members to help them survive. In a call to arms, PVA members participated in a grassroots letter writing campaign to Congress to make sure that all members of the passenger vessel industry — vessel operators, suppliers and others — were included in federal economic assistance programs.
While it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I believe we will prevail. The U.S. maritime industry is creative and resilient. My company will survive and emerge stronger than before, and I will continue fighting.
Please stay healthy and safe during these difficult times.