Eric Pfau came to the PCC Small Business Development Center to learn how the business might improve based upon best practices of other businesses of similar size and experience. Then COVID-19 pandemic hit and Grummel Engineering, like so many other small businesses, had to change the way they worked with clients and with each other. Eric's goal is for the business to come out of the pandemic stronger than going in. This is the story of how Eric and Grummel Engineering is adapting to their "new normal" as they prepare for long term growth.
What inspires you to do this work? I do it for the love of engineering and problem solving, while building an environment that supports and encourages our staff and helps the community.
Before coming to the SBDC what challenges were you facing in your business? We were going through some internal changes in the company and wanted to compare our operations with best practices taught in the SBDC classes. We wanted to look at where we could improve on what we were doing. We also wanted to feel more confident and to be sure we were on the right track.
What types of services did you receive and in which programs have you participated? I started out in the Business Design Series in August of 2019, then I joined the Advanced Small Business Management program in February of 2020 with a scholarship from the Portland Business Alliance and Bank of America. I've also availed myself of individual counseling sessions.
How have the SBDC programs helped you overcome those challenges? We have learned that there is a lot we are doing well! We have also been exposed to some great ways to fine tune our approach. At the same time, we have appreciated hearing from other types of business and how they adapt and confront challenges unique to their work. Specific to COVID-19 it has been therapeutic to hear from other businesses going through similar challenges to us. I've found it helpful to get real-time input on government aid programs available.
What have you been doing to pivot your business through the adverse conditions surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic? Our goal coming out of the pandemic is to be stronger than going in. We continue to ask ourselves, “what can we do to change or improve our approach now that nothing feels ordinary?" This is a unique opportunity to “walk around” our approach and look at it from different perspectives. One measure of our success continues to be our clients believing that we are rising to meet their needs in a timely fashion.
In our office we have worked hard to maintain a sense of social connection via beginning and ending of week all-staff meetings, various screen pairings to collaborate on ongoing work, plus inter-office message boards to share both technical and fun topics. Production-wise we have grown in our ability to edit and communicate using digital markups of documents and shared screens. Lastly, we have encouraged open discussion on how best to strike a balance between work and home now that they can so easily overlap.
What are your plans moving forward as the state of Oregon continues the process of reopening? We intend to adopt a conservative approach when returning to the office. The health of our employees and our community are our top priority. In the past we discouraged remote office work to foster camaraderie in the workplace. We have accepted the challenge to learn what we can about remote work while the pandemic restricts us otherwise. We expect the return to work will look different from the past and are eager to find out in due time.
What would you say to other small business owners thinking of working with the SBDC? The Advanced Small Business Management program covers a lot of material quickly, and that is a good thing. It is hard to imagine other small businesses not learning something new each month.
Get Business Help from PCC's SBDC
PCC's Small Business Development Center offers numerous small business development courses and resources to help small businesses address challenges arising from the pandemic. Our small business advisers are here to help businesses like Grummel Engineering. See how we can help YOU too.
Programs and services are provided to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Language assistance service are available for limited English proficient individuals. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Please contact us at 971-722-5080 or firstname.lastname@example.org, to request accommodations. Oregon Small Business Development Centers are funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Oregon Business Development Department.