By R. Christopher Haines, President and CEO

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time for shopping, family, good meals, and resolutions. It’s also the time at which everyone is saying a lot of, “Let’s do that after the 1st.”

To say 2017 was a challenge for me and those around me would be an understatement. If we were sitting here on this same day, 12 months ago, and someone tried to convince me how 2017 would go, I’d have told them they were nuts. But we survived. And there is no reason to look back.

As we sit here today, I feel a strong energy going into the new year. There’s a desire within me personally, that I can also feel in those in our organization, that I haven’t felt before. We’ve always been driven to succeed. To take care of our customers like no one else can. To make sure each one of them knows how much they mean to us. To grow each day into something better than we were the day before. But now this drive seems much stronger.

I consider myself lucky to be doing something I really like, surrounded by people I really like, with the unwavering support of my friends and family. The second half of 2017 saw many of our staff members grow to new levels of maturity and contribution. It’s not that we underestimated what they were capable of. It’s more about seeing them excel at what they do or conquering new challenges. It’s one of the greatest feelings to see individuals grow. And then the strength and depth of the organization grow as a result.

At our organization, we don’t want to take over the world. But we do want to provide a stable, rewarding career for our team members. And we want to provide services to our customers that help their businesses succeed. As part of gaining our independence in 2017, we now have more control over this than ever. There are fewer hoops to jump through in our efforts to do what we should for our team members and our customers.

2018 looks to be the best year yet, on many fronts. Who knows, maybe I’ll even keep that New Year’s resolution to exercise.

I wouldn’t count on it.