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How Has Your Business Changed Since the Pandemic?

Interviews by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

In many ways, the world will never be the same since the COVID-19 outbreak. In the business world, the pandemic’s effects are still felt in many sectors. We recently asked area business leaders, “How has your business changed since the pandemic?” Here’s what they said:


It hasn’t been as crazy as it was during COVID with everyone staying home and remodeling. We haven’t seen a big drop-off in sales. Right after COVID, the supply chain was really tough. Now things are starting to level off. We’re really close to being back to normal. Building material pricing has come back to pre-pandemic levels. Since the pandemic, we’ve been looking at our inventory a little bit more closely and get things in three to four weeks sooner than we used to.”

   — Charles Handley, Owner, Burke’s Do It Best Home Center, Oswego


“The pandemic put a big emphasis on becoming totally digital on work. Things that were put off on going fully remote for work in the accounting world became a high priority and got done because of necessity. Although at first it was difficult learning new technology, it has actually helped since streamline workflow and communication with clients since. Doing more accounting work remotely has allowed for less wasted time in schedule and travel. The only drawback is not meeting face to face with clients.”

   — Brenda Weissenberg, Accountant and owner, Affordable Business Solutions, Central Square


“It actually hasn’t changed at all. We maintained the same service and customer interactions all through COVID and since COVID. We didn’t change how we do business.”

   — Dave Canale, Owner, Canale Insurance and Computer Accounting Services, Oswego


“COVID caused a drastic change. Now it’s like trying to build back up because we were closed over two years. I’ve never been open in the summer, only September through the end of April. My grandson, Jeffrey Geracci, is taking the property over and I need to slow down. Jeffrey has been there a couple of years with me. I’ll be there but not in charge.”

   — Linda Tarbox, Owner, 1880 House, Pulaski


“Since the pandemic, not a whole lot has changed for us. We were an essential business with our cloth diaper and laundry service and operated fully during the entire time and kept our employees working providing our weekly laundry service and cloth diaper service to Rochester and Syracuse areas in addition to our local area. The largest impact as a result of the pandemic has been the cost of doing business requiring me to work many more hours to get the job done in an effort to keep our costs as low as possible. Our online sales have seen a boost too for toys and cloth diapers.”

   — Lisa Emmons, Owner, Mother Earth Baby LLC, Curious Kidz Toys and More, Breezy Kleen Laundry Service, Oswego


“Things did pick up after COVID. Guests seem to be coming back. People are getting out and traveling. And there’s college parents visiting, and the Renaissance Fair and harvest fest. People are looking for places to stay while they go to these things.”

   — Joy Moody, Innkeeper and owner, Merriam Vincent Guest House, Oswego


“The Friends of History at the John Wells Pratt House Museum in Fulton was closed the entire year of 2020. We re-opened in 2021, but still did not go forward with our annual Parade of Trees as many schools lacked the necessary transportation and children were still wearing masks. Other than that, we are back to our normal hours, etc. Other than our maintenance guy who works as needed, I am the only paid employee at the Pratt House. All others are volunteers. We have noticed a decrease in the amount that some of the sponsors have given and it seems to be harder to get sponsors as well.”

   — Theresa Jones, Museum coordinator, Friends of History in Fulton and J.W. Pratt House Museum, Fulton


“In certain fundamental respects, our business has not changed and in other ways our business is altering significantly. We are accustomed to adapting to the fluctuations in local and regional real estate markets, and we are seeing a return to a more typical seasonality compared to the extreme sustained volumes during the pandemic. Traditionally, businesses in our industry cater to attorneys and lenders, though we are seeing some indirect effects of regulatory enforcement shifting toward emphasizing the consumer — e.g., homebuyers — over the last several years. The pandemic has changed the way people work and live in some very permanent ways, particularly through the decentralization of work, expectations on delivery of goods and services, and a desire to interact through technology. With an increased reliance on technology comes an increased burden to ensure the proper safeguards are in place to protect against fraud and cyber crime, as well as to streamline the use of technology in day-to-day business operations.

“I think one of the critical lessons of the pandemic was an awareness that we have to be more adaptable in our operations and ready to pivot quickly. We will likely not give up our brick-and-mortar operations, but we are learning how to build more flexibility into how and where we work without compromising the quality and personality in service to our customers. Another challenge we face is learning to grow in such a way as to make our operation feel local, but sophisticated enough to compete on a large scale with the increasing complexities that scaling up brings. One advantage we have over competitors is our ability to react quickly to changing demands and shift course easily without a lot of bureaucratic process getting in the way. I think we have led the way in our use of technology but keeping that focus as a true solution provider is getting harder as third-party technology servicers proliferate in the title and settlement space.”

   — Patrick J. Corbett, CEO, Vanguard Research & Title Services, Inc. Syracuse and Oswego


“More people, especially couples, are traveling in small groups. I see this with Alaska cruises, tours, European river cruises and escorted motorcoach tours in Europe. I escorted a group of 16 to Ireland in September and have a group of 24 I’m escorting on a Greek Island Cruise in August. People just want to travel together as friends and family after missing out on being together safely for so long. Now, we’re starting to go beyond ‘revenge’ travel, where people were traveling because they could. We’re going gangbusters, with people checking off things from their travel bucket list.”

   — Michele McIntyre, Owner, Travel Savvy, LLC, Jamesville


“COVID definitely changed the way that we do business. We were fortunate to have telehealth already in place prior to COVID, but we weren’t really utilizing it. Once COVID hit, we turned all of our private practice to telehealth and started doing all of our meetings over Zoom. It was difficult at first but then we realized that we could take it to more locations and expand our reach nationwide. Over the COVID years we grew to 17 dietitians across the country and now have our workplace wellness solution in over 200 companies. COVID was the game-changer and made people think differently about how they receive their healthcare.”

   — Kelly Springer, Registered dietitian and owner, Kelly’s Choice, Skaneateles


“I know that at Curtis Manor, we lost all the wedding bookings for the year while everything was shut down. That was pretty serious. The following year, things were busier. Some people rebooked. Right now, it’s back to normal. The contracting has been busier than normal. Prices of materials skyrocketed. They’ve come down but are still high compared with pre-COVID.”

   — Tony Pauldine, Oswego contractor, owner of several businesses, including Curtis Manor