It’s newsletter time again. Only 24 shopping days to Christmas… Only 18 more days to process orders. Wow, this month went fast. It’s like that in the fall it seems. I feel the compression of the end of the year coming and the selling time and the time left to finish jobs before the end of the year, coming to a close. We have only 18 days, I figure, to get the jobs through the door and processed before we run out of processing time. I am not sure what the work schedule will be this year with COVID-19 and the limits that has impressed, but we will do whatever it takes to get the jobs that are brought in at the last minute processed and purchase orders issued to suppliers so we can end on a high note. We will process what we can with our suppliers so they, too, can end on a high note. That’s what being partners with our suppliers is all about.
With all of the issues we have had throughout the year: from “the fear of COVID and lockdown”; to “the unknown of COVID and how to keep the offices functional”; to “the acceptance of COVID and OK, it’s here, so let’s be safe, but we still have a job to do”; to now, “Dang it! I wish it would just go away”; in spite of it all, the company has had a pretty good year. Some of the offices have faired better than the others. We got hit hard in Arkansas with all of our inspection projects being stopped. We had a number of projects in Houston and Central Texas put on hold. The CAS’s were not allowed to perform their quarterly visits from any of the offices because the hospitals didn’t want anyone except essential personnel on their sites. We had a few projects cancel, but we did get a number of COVID renovations that kinda made up for the lost projects. Fortunately, we have now seen all of the projects that were placed on hold, released. In fact, we have had one project that was cancelled come back to us via a different contractor; that’s a first. It has been a funny year to say the least.
But the good news is, we are profitable and that is a very good thing. We had a good year after all of that. From a Revenue standpoint, we are flat over last year which, as I have said in other writings, is a real win in this environment. Our revenues will be approximately the same as last year. Our Backlog is slightly lower as of today. If you recall, our backlog was over 31 million at the beginning of the year, and that has dropped slightly to 28 million or down to 167 days of backlog from 182 days at the beginning of the year; which, by the way, is still very strong. As it relates to sales, it will come down to December as to whether our sales for 2020 will be up or down compared to 2019. If the sales come in as the sales teams expect, sales will be up by more than 10%. If the sales that are expected to be processed before the end of the year slide to January, we will be slightly lower in sales and our backlog will remain lower than beginning 2020. That may be a little confusing, but again, Backlog is unfinished work we have in-house, Revenues are completed work that we earn profit on, and Sales are accepted proposals. As sales get processed, they become backlog and as they are completed, they become revenue. Whew, that made it clear.
Benefits: We did open enrollment meetings last week via GoToWebinar and all appears to have gone well. Those that attended were very complementary to Ramona about the very clear way she presented the information and shuffled the speakers to cover all of the benefit programs. All credit goes to Ramona and her speakers. All I did was say “hi” and ask questions. Ramona, Cassie, and Trey have all done very well adapting to their new positions. Open enrollment is now closed. If you missed it, November 2021 will be the next time you can make changes. There are only a few things you can change now, so make sure you talk to Ramona if something got missed. Remember, the webinars were recorded and are available on the LMS should you like to see the webinar again or if you missed it completely. You are no longer able to make changes, but maybe seeing it again will clarify what you already signed up to receive.
Office Meeting and Recognition. With all the issues we have had with COVID and not being able to have more that 10 to 15 people in a room at the same time, we missed our annual state of the company meetings. We are planning meetings in February or March and, if we can’t have them in person, we will have them on GoToWebinar or Zoom. The leadership teams want to share all the good things we are accomplishing, and we really want to recognize people for their tenure with Lone Star Communications. We will probably meet in smaller groups and begin the process of recognizing tenure with pictures or video. Then we will share that with the bigger group on a live broadcast. It’s not what we desire, but it is what we have to do to adapt to and keep you as safe as possible in this environment. More on that in the weekly email as it begins to come together.
Vaccine: The vaccine is on the way! There are two vaccines currently applying for applications for emergency approval which are likely to be approved early this month. Of course, the people needing it most will receive doses first. Health care workers, first responders, military, police, etc. and so forth. You and I will probably have an opportunity to receive it in the first quarter of 2021 and I want to be first in line! Seriously, I am hoping we all get a chance to take it soon and when we do get that chance, I will take it. I have no fear it has been rushed or corners cut. This vaccine has been tested on groups 10 times bigger than most test groups for a vaccine in phase three trials of other drugs and these first two vaccines show an effective rate of over 94%. The flu vaccine has an effective rate of 30 to 50% in most years, so this is a good vaccine. There are three more vaccine choices that are likely to finish phase three trials before the end of the year as well and will likely apply for emergency use before the end of 2020. It’s going to be a good start to 2021!
That’s all for now. I’ll send a weekly email later this week as well with some shout-outs. Ray
-Ray Bailey, President