A letter from the Chairman

This is not the letter I had imagined I would be writing after becoming Chairman here at MVTTC. But it is the one that is called for, and I guess that’s what the job is all about. But first I must mention that we truly appreciate you, our members, and with your ongoing support, are looking forward to continuing to be able to serve the membership and putting forth what has become one of the premiere industry conferences.

Having spent my entire career in industries that are directly related to the trade and transport of bulk commodities, I am no stranger to the ebbs and flows of business and the effect those highs and lows can have on businesses, and more importantly, the affects they have on the lives of the people that are part of those businesses.  Dictated by the moves of a specific market relative to the global economies they serve, companies consistently find themselves battling forces and competing with the downturns to save themselves, and to save the livelihoods of their employees. Typically, with the proper maneuvering or reinventing themselves altogether when necessary, a company can push hard on the thrust lever to pull out of the dive the company is in and in doing so, righting the craft.

Now is not one of those times. No amount of thrust could have stopped the crash – we faced an invisible, voracious, seemingly unsurmountable, foe. The current collective emergency has happened to every business, everywhere …around the world. With the total shutdown, or drastic slowdown of businesses due to COVID 19, and the inevitable crash that was to come with it, immediately companies went into triage mode to try to save as many people as possible: Work from home, cutting expenses/pay/bonuses, putting moratoriums on travel,  downsizing where necessary, and on and on. It is still ongoing today, and we’re not quite sure when it will end.

In the process of personally handling this pandemic, we had a reminder – not that we hadn’t known it all along, but a reminder that told us not to forget what is most important… family, friends, and the network of folks in our lives. It gave us more opportunity to either spend time with, or at least spend time thinking of, or talking to, family/friends/colleagues, and etc…

Furthering that reminder, was seeing images on TV, or worse yet actually experiencing ourselves, instances such as family members standing outside of assisted-living homes for the elderly and not being able to go inside to see them as they became more and more ill – it was crushing. But it is also this image that I reflect on now whenever I feel inconvenienced by the still-in-place COVID avoidance requirements such as social distancing, closed or capacity-limited restaurants, mask mandates, and etc.

It is also images such as these that came to mind when the Mississippi Valley Trade and Transport Council had to make the hard, but necessary decision to not hold our various member outings here in 2020 – such as the Rock and Bowl family event, and the Christmas party. Even looking forward into 2021, with an unclear crystal ball of what the timeline for a fully safe outing will be, we have decided to take the most prudent measure, in the safest interest of everyone, that the 2021 conference not be held in person. This was a really tough decision. We are aware how much everyone appreciated the opportunity to come down to New Orleans, hold meetings over a bowl of gumbo, network with industry titans at the ‘Fete, and get your fill of industry inside news from top-level panelists, and maybe catch a parade or two before heading home. You will miss it, and we will miss you.

We’re not exactly sure how the conference will look just yet, as it is a work in progress… But we will be releasing more conference info as it is finalized in the coming weeks. I do know, however, that we will look to resume our normal outings as soon as safely possible. To get there, we’re going to need your support more now than ever. So, sign up for the conference, be a sponsor if you can, pay your membership dues timely and let’s try to get back to some normalcy. And with your continued efforts and support, we’ll be rubbing elbows and catching beads before you know it.

Until then, be safe and be well.

Kind regards,

David Ryan

Executive Chairman of the Board