COVID & Character

My father told me the measure of a person’s character is not when things are going well – it’s measured by how one responds when things are not going well.  The global COVID-19 pandemic has tested the character of Panini.  I’m proud to say our team has met the challenge and demonstrated character of incredible integrity, tenacity, and perseverance.

We first felt the impact of COVID-19 on our company in late January.  As China began preparations for the annual two week New Year holiday, we began to see delays on key electronic components.  As news and impact of the pandemic began to spread, we took immediate action to increase component purchases and safety stock levels for production.  These early and proactive decisions were instrumental to maintaining consistency of product supply for our customers and partners.

From there, the situation worsened.  As the virus spread to Europe, the operational stability of our production plants and headquarters came under threat.  This was the moment when we established our guiding principles for responding to the COVID-19 situation; 1) do whatever it takes to keep our employees safe, 2) do our best, within the requirements of the first principle, to keep our company operational, and 3) make decisions based on facts from reputable sources.  This led to a flexible policy process which was regularly reviewed and adapted by the company’s leadership team.  We immediately moved to home-based operations for our entire staff in Italy, and equipped employees with the technologies and process changes required to support this action.  Our production plants immediately implemented safety protocols along with multi-shift operations to enable consistent output with fewer people physically together at the same time.

The virus then spread throughout the US, threatening our operations in North America, a key and strategic market for Panini.  Working within government guidelines, we quickly established ourselves as an essential business, moved all North American personnel to home-based operations except for mission critical operations staff, and implemented rigorous safety protocols.  At the same time, our shareholders were directly involved, facilitating charitable donations to organizations on the front-line of pandemic response in the areas where our employees live and work.

Our customers and partners had to manage these same difficult conditions.  Together, we adapted the way we communicated and collaborated, leveraging technology and virtual approaches to ensure continued optimal service levels and engagement. We found it more important than ever to communicate with our customers, partners, and employees, and we continuously adapted our pandemic policies based on conditions and risk.  

Nine months later, I can say the people of Panini demonstrated amazing character in the face of this global crisis.  They never gave up, found ways to get the job done, and always maintained a focus on our customers.  Panini employees continued to innovate, deliver results, and supported each other with an attitude based on positive thinking and unshakable resolve.  They understood when and why policy was adjusted and have been vital to Panini’s ability to keep employees safe and the company operational. 
I’m not sure where this global pandemic will lead us.  I am sure the character of Panini employees will be the foundation of how Panini responds.  Bravo a tutti!

Michael Pratt
CEO, Panini