Excalibur’s president reflects on formidable year

Excalibur President and CEO Tom Hornstein shares ways the company remained focused on employees, customers and community.

Looking back on 2020, what are you most proud in what was a most unusual year?

The lessons we learned on leadership from 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic could fill a book or be studied in a semester-long college class.

Remember at the beginning of the pandemic when we were told that millions of people would perish as a result of the virus? At that time, overseeing the business was 25% of our effort. Managing the hysteria and anxiety that resulted took up the remaining 75%, at the least. Communication is a challenge in any business, but 2020 ramped up our efforts. I’m impressed with our team and what we did to ensure that everyone was in the know, good or bad, at all times.

How have Excalibur employees stepped forward during this time?

We have a lot of young employees, and they had their plates full dealing with school schedule disruptions, child care, and then coming to work. It’s been a tough year for them.

Despite that, our team recognizes the times when the best thing they can do is simply put their heads down and work extra hard. I’m proud of how our company builds engaged employees. The performers really shined brightly in the past year. It’s rewarding and exciting to see them evolve in front of our eyes as our future leaders.

We’ve always treated our employees well and with respect. 2020 showed us the payoff when times were challenging. And all of this happened during a year when Excalibur grew nearly 25 percent.

There has always been a directive by Excalibur leadership to help those in need. How did that evolve during the pandemic?

As with most things in 2020, our company giving looked a bit differently, but the COVID-19 and its restrictions allowed us to serve our customers and community in unique and inspiring ways.

Our partnership with a vending machine company provided visiting truck drivers coupons for free drinks and snacks. To curb the virus’ spread, we distributed hundreds of gallons of sanitizer to employees, their families and friends. Local students received Chromebooks for distance learning, and groups unable to host traditional in-person fundraisers welcomed our donations to help recover lost revenue.

Our founder, the late Jerry Hall was always generous, so when I began managing our giving, I wanted to follow his lead: Is our giving in line with our owner’s interests and a cause I think they would care about? The causes we support should always be in line with what’s important to our employees, their families and our community.

What do you think Jerry Hall would say about his company persevering in such arduous times?

Jerry would beam like a proud new father. At the end of the day, that’s a simple and basic litmus test for us. He wanted his customers happy and his employees cared for. I think we excelled at that.

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