It’s newsletter time again! I hope you are enjoying the constant stream of communications via the daily email, office updates by the COO’s, and the newsletters. It is our goal to keep you informed on what is going on in every office as well as our company plans and our successes towards those plans. It is a funny time with COVID: wearing masks and being on constant watch to make sure we don’t get or spread the coronavirus. Because of this, we are not always in the offices. We don’t see each other as much as we have in the past, so we don’t hear what’s going on as it happens. I expect we will keep up this consistency of communications to all employees for the foreseeable future. We want you to know what we are doing, and we want you to be just as excited as we are about our goings on and successes.
The time has come to begin some travel between offices. We have made a few trips here and there and we know how to conduct travel and meetings safely in small groups. It will be a while before we can have large groups together, but we can have smaller groups together and have in-person meetings and we can do it safely. We wear our masks and keep the distance and we will be fine. Some of the rooms are big enough and we can keep the distances far enough that we can remove the mask during some meetings if needed. I have gotten to the point that wearing a mask does not bother me and I can wear one all day if I need to. We just need to use good sense when having these meetings.
To that end, we started visiting offices last week and hope to visit all offices before the end of November. We call it our “Good Will Tour” and we started with the Central Texas office. We met with a small group for dinner on Tuesday in the Georgetown office then spent Wednesday in the Georgetown office seeing the folks we didn’t see at dinner. Then we went to Houston and did the same thing. It was great to see everyone, and I think they were happy to see us. After Houston we headed to Little Rock late, so we missed dinner Thursday, but we spent the day Friday in the Little Rock office attending the Chili Cookoff! That was great and I ate (too much of) 8 different chili recipes. Yum! Patt has written details of the tour and the chilis, so I will avoid repeating the details here. We visited the Georgetown, Houston, and Little Rock offices, so we have 5 more to go. We are trying for Shreveport and Springdale next week and San Antonio and Corpus Christi the following. Finally, we will get a small group together in Grand Prairie. I’m excited to see everyone again.
(click to enlarge photos)
(We forgot to take pictures in Georgetown…sorry)
Benefits. I have some very good news for everyone regarding benefits. For the second straight year, our broker Rodney Dryden has negotiated a no increase renewal for all programs. This is really exciting, and we should finalize it in the next few days. It is good for the employees because it will be the same program we have had for two years and good for the company because there is no increase to our costs. It is good for HR and Payroll because they will not have the big enrollments we have had in the past. To keep the same program for three years in a row is rare these days and I am trying to get it for a 4th year as well. We can ask anyway…
Strategic Planning Committee meetings. We began these meetings in 2018 and we are going to having our third annual year planning meeting in January 2021. In years past, we have had this in the first week in January to begin the year with a plan. We have decided we have embraced this program well enough that it is less important to have this meeting before the year begins as long, as we plan early in the year. This year the meeting will slide three weeks and happening the week of January 25th and all of the monthly meetings will move three weeks later as well. This means our planning and our financial years will be slightly off, but it will be workable. What this does is create a little breathing room between December and the first meeting of the year. What we found with the old plan is that we struggled to keep people involved in December and by the first week in January we were behind on our plan. The annual session became a lot of cleanup of the previous year before we could focus on the new year’s plan. Now we will have three weeks in January to finalize our previous year’s plan. This way, we can maximize the use of our time focusing on 2021. This should be a good change and will put less stress on the SPC members and allow them to enjoy the holidays. We will publish the planning schedule in the December newsletter.
We are now in the fourth quarter of 2020 and about to close out the year. The sales staff in all offices are working hard to build the backlog as high as possible so we can start 2021 with the largest backlog we have had in our history. I am hopeful they are successful!
That’s it for me. Here is Patt’s report on our Good Will Tour last week. Enjoy!
THE 2020 GOOD WILL TOUR by Patt Bowles
We stood it as long as we could… we simply could NOT stay away any longer. While virtual meetings have definitely provided quality “face time” and have helped keep us as connected as we can be under the circumstances, nothing can replace the energy and just pure JOY of being in the same space with the OUTSTANDING members of our Lone Star Communications Family. It was a whirlwind tour that gave Ray, Trey, and Patt fantastic interactions and some great memories.
Tuesday, October 27th – The flight to Georgetown was uneventful, however the landing was a bit challenging with the clouds deciding they wanted to get as close to the ground as possible to block the ability to see the runway until only a few moments before touching down. No problem for the expert pilot (Ray)… the copilot (Patt) did have to be revived afterwards, however (humor). The evening was spent dining with six of LSCT’s finest: Valerie Brzykcy, Cassie Thompson, Kathryn Marshall, Steven Spangler, Chris Andrus, and Victor Gonzalez. Great food, great conversations.
Wednesday, October 28th – The day at the Georgetown office seemed to pass all too quickly with the usual Huddles, Meetings, and emails being interspersed with lively in-person visits and times for collaboration and planning. Late afternoon had us back in the air headed to Houston to spend the evening with some of LSCH’s treasures: Justo Garza, Jon Pennington and his fiancé Emma, Phillip and Marissa Cerna, Jaime Chapa, Jackson Cole, and Ron Kruse. Again, we experience great food and great conversations.
Thursday, October 29th – Lots of Huddles, Meetings, 1:1’s, Teams calls. Thankfully, there was plenty of time to see the limited number of folks we could due to the alternating work schedule. Nice to meet the new receptionist/assistant Amanda Csombok while we were there. Glad she has joined the team! We had a very late flight into Little Rock, and when we finally arrived, we discovered the area where we landed had closed for dinner, so we were locked in the landing area until the attendant returned from his evening meal to open the gate and let us out. We had booked hotel rooms that each had a “real” kitchen in which to prepare our (hopefully) award-winning chilis for Friday’s Chili Cook-Off at LSAR. After getting all ingredients prepped and into the slow cooker, it was well after midnight before my head hit the pillow.
Friday, October 30th – The morning dawned with the smell of chili in the air. Mmmmm. We all loaded up and made our way to join in the fun of this special day. The talented folks at LSAR had gone all out to provide an incredible venue for the event. Tents, tables, games, food (and more food) all ready to welcome quite a few of the wonderful LSAR Team as well as several guests. Even Dan Hiett and his wife, Joyce, took a moment in the midst of their vacation time to surprise us by stopping in. The main event was, of course, the COMPETITION! 9 varieties of chili were presented for tasting and judging, and it is no exaggeration to say they were all lip-smacking good! Talk about making tough choices… how to choose just one as the best? It was a tight finish with two stand-out chilis and one close runner up (none were mine, of course). In the end, it was Jeff Primm, Service Technician LSAR whose chili rose above them all and claimed the prize as The Best LSAR Chili of 2020! Congratulations, Jeff! It is truly one DELICIOUS chili with a unique, tastebud tantalizing flavor! Thank you for the efforts you took to create it and share with us all! Thank you, too, to those who brought the yummy, yummy desserts and dips and a HUGE thank you to all you selfless folks who helped put the venue together and take it all apart after we had over-indulged.
It was with hearts full of joyful memories that we headed back to Texas. THANK YOU LSC FAMILY!
-Ray Bailey, President