It’s finally December, the last month of the year I want to forget. As the door swings shut on 2020, many of us want to sigh with relief and look forward to a much better, safer world in 2021.

But can we truly forget the year when the entire world became engulfed in the COVID-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc on our lives, our livelihoods, and our society?

Let’s have a look at where we were in 2020 and why we won’t forget this year anytime soon.

The 2020 Pandemic

The Spring 2020 shutdowns, social distancing, and face mask requirements hit small businesses very hard, and some won’t recover. Though things did ease up a bit, the onslaught of the second and third waves of infections led to more than a quarter-million deaths. The world is still dangerous and scary.

Early on, HVAC contractors were categorized as essential. They were allowed to remain open to help their customers stay comfortable and safe in their homes. But many were forced to completely change how they conduct business.

With more people than ever forced to cancel trips, work from home, and home-school their kids, the need for better indoor air quality and system maintenance went through the roof and continues doing so even today.

In 2020, many High-Performance HVAC companies added new wrinkles to their service offerings like using low-contact services. For example, they used virtual walk-throughs to help determine what was happening in a home or building before dispatching techs to the site.

Others focused on community service – including using MERV-13 filters to create masks. Then they donated these masks to their communities which helped build customer confidence. The masks helped protect consumers and techs alike. They made it easier for technicians to enter homes and do their work.

Training Issues

On the downside, general and technical in-person training simply stopped in early 2020. At least for a while.

But luckily organizations like National Comfort Institute, ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America), and others very quickly adapted. They developed virtual capabilities so they could help contractors continue training their people despite limitations imposed by the COVID shutdowns.

Social Climate in 2020

This year was a year of panic, social activism, and an extremely divisive presidential election that left this country reeling. As a result, we’ve seen an increase in vandalism, thefts, and other issues that make it difficult to keep employees, tools, and equipment safe.

Oh, let’s not forget that shutdowns across the country clobbered the delivery channels and we saw HVAC equipment shortages that still linger today.

Despite all this, the industry persevered.

We learned how to use new technology to train our people and keep our customers informed. We changed protocols to help consumers feel safe while we worked in their homes. And the changes implemented throughout this industry will help make it stronger once we get past the pandemic.

Yes, 2020 was a tough, sometimes ugly, and seemingly endless year. But I hope the positives will carry us forward and help make 2021 a better one. Check out Dominick Guarino’s One More Thing column (ncilink.com/2021) for some thoughts on where next year may take us.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays from all of us to your teams and families. Best wishes for a better, even more successful 2021.