A Letter to Our Industry Friends

Mar 30, 2020

Firstly, I would like to be clear: this is not a business development letter. It is simply an effort to check on all of our valued friends, offer support where appropriate, educate if possible, and come together during these unprecedented times.

Current Situation

As I write this, the situation is extremely fluid, changing not by the day or week, but by the hour. Many states are under restrictions and many are trying to decide what is essential and what is not - all while juggling the most important issues of keeping our people healthy and doing our part to mitigate the spread. Unfortunately, we haven’t reached the point where we can establish a new normal, so I wouldn’t be so bold as to offer any projections. What I can say with some confidence, and what you already know, is that it will be uncomfortable and longer than we hoped. In the same breath, I can say that there are some encouraging signs.

What We Are Seeing & Hearing

For the most part, what we are hearing is optimism and resilience - not so much for today or the immediate future, but for the long term. There is some “doom and gloom” out there, but overall, people are surprisingly upbeat and moving forward in the ways that make the most sense. To that end, we have seen three main reactions from our clients. This is in no way an opinion on which course is correct; everybody has their own set of unique circumstances, and I am certain all are making the very best decisions for their companies.

  • The most dire and least surprising: canceling all current hiring with no immediate plan to resume. These are the companies that are really ‘hunkering down’ and preparing for a long siege (about 30% of our client base).
  • Secondly: putting some searches on hold and continuing with the mission-critical hiring - the most pragmatic and popular course right now. These are the companies that believe this will be turbulent, but will end or normalize in the not-too-distant future. Many of these companies are building ‘Essential Services’ work (about 50% of our client base).
  • Thirdly, and most encouraging: doubling down on their most important positions and beginning new endeavors. These are the companies that are generally well capitalized and able to look beyond the current distress (about 20% of our client base).

As the situation is extremely fluid, these may change within the next hour; that is how fast things are moving. Overall, though, the mood is “resigned optimism” - accepting the reality of the situation and making the best of it. When this is over, things will ramp up quickly and we’ll be ready, healthy, and safe.

What We Have Done

Over the past few weeks, we at Kimmel have been working diligently to mobilize our offices to best serve you. As you may or may not know, all of our consultants work in one building in Asheville, North Carolina, so it has been no small task to reorganize our company to work remotely - much easier than it would have been five years ago, but still a challenging task. I am happy to report that we have accomplished our goal, and every employee at Kimmel & Associates will be able to work and serve you throughout the process. That includes all front office, accounting, reception, and search consultants.

That being said, we are using this time as an opportunity to grow and learn, sharpening our tools in order to serve you better. Whether you need us now or when things normalize, we are here and we are ready. This may be a long slog, so please feel free to call any one of us; we want to hear from you. Whether it is to report intel on the market or just to touch base and visit, we welcome the opportunity to support you in any way possible.

Lastly, I just want to say how optimistic I am. I am not saying it isn’t going to be hard - it is. But these are trying times, and we are seeing people pull together to solve problems like I haven’t seen in my 30 years in the business. It is unfortunate that it took these circumstances to revive my faith, but I am grateful for it. So, in my humble opinion, we will get through this, together. I don’t know when and I don’t know exactly how it will look, but I do know that we will all be stronger for having experienced it.

Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts or insight.

Charlie Kimmel

About the Author

Charlie Kimmel

As President and CEO, Charlie has dedicated his 25+ year career to executive search at Kimmel & Associates. Charlie joined Kimmel & Associates in 1990 as a Recruiter. In 1993, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he received a BA in History.

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