Tuesday, July 28, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Treatments, Vaccines, Herd Immunity, Testing +

Covid medical update

We all have questions about COVID and how to keep ourselves, our family, and our colleagues healthy and safe. Today, we find that we are providing custom advice on everything from testing and temperature checks, to what to do if you spike a fever in the middle of the night, to what are the most important things personally right now to be as healthy as possible. We’ve even gone on virtual tours of offices, providing feedback on how to improve the safety of the environment.

It’s a new frontier for healthcare providers, no doubt!

Are you in search some reliable, up-to-date medical information about the COVID-19 virus? Each week, Dr. Steven Bishop, Director of Wellness at PartnerMD, provides a COVID-19 update on Facebook Live, explaining in easy-to-understand terms the latest information related to the virus.

For example, on July 22 Dr. Bishop:

  • discussed promising vaccines from Phizer, one from Moderna, and one from AstraZeneca
  • shared his thoughts on why there is a focus on metabolic health
  • discussed testing in Virginia
  • answered the question, “Does the increase in positives indicate immunity sharing?” and more.

Listen in on that video session here:


Dr. Bishop regularly advises clients and their leadership teams on COVID and how to maximize their resilience against the virus – both as a company and as an individual when it comes to your personal health. He’ll be giving a virtual presentation to the VACEOs community on August 6 at 2:00 PM. Don’t miss this opportunity to ask him direct questions. Here’s a link to register. (VACEOs Members and Sponsors only.)

Janet Kiss is a Membership and Corporate Sales Associate at PartnerMD and is available for one-on-one and/or roundtable conversations for VA Council of CEO Members.

Editors Note: PartnerMD is a Sponsor of Virginia Council of CEOs.

Posted by Staff at 9:53 am
Labels: ,
Friday, June 12, 2020

Economic Survey Continues to Improve But CEOs Want Faster Action

Although COVID-19 has forced many employees to work from home, CEOs report that productivity is “about the same”.


Read Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage >


Each quarter the Virginia Council of CEOs (VACEOs) and University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business partner to take the pulse of top executives in the region through a comprehensive Virginia CEO Economic Outlook Survey. 

For the first time ever, the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business and the Virginia Council of CEOs conducted a follow-up to their quarterly CEO Economic Outlook Survey to determine how CEO sentiment had changed after dealing with COVID-19 for another month.  

The second edition of this special survey found that CEO sentiment has continued to improve after dealing with COVID-19 for another month, but CEOs are not happy with the pace of reopening the state.

Overall expectations for sales, capital spending, and employment over the next six months all increased compared to expectations at the end of April. Fifty-eight percent of CEOs reported that compared with their expectations for their businesses at the end of April, the last month had been “about as expected.” Nearly 28% reported it to be “much better than expected,” while about 14% reported “much worse than expected.”

Economic Index Historical Data (May 27, 2020)

YearQuarter 1Quarter 2Quarter 3Quarter 4
May 27, 202026.2
April 27, 2020-1.33
2020-18.73 (historic low)
2017108.97 (historic high)103.6399.17106.3


Says Scot McRoberts, executive director of the Virginia Council of CEOs, “I’m relieved to see that small business CEOs feel like the worst is over, and that optimism is ticking up slightly. I think it is also a good sign that few of these CEOs have resorted to layoffs, indicating a belief that business will rebound sooner, rather than later.”

“Despite the uncertainty that remains around future policies, we see a gradual increase in CEO sentiment,” said Randy Raggio, Associate Dean at the Robins School of Business. Raggio administers the survey and collects the responses each quarter. He adds,  “These monthly surveys have given us a unique look at how sentiment has inched upwards as the situation has begun to stabilize.”  

Mickey Quiñones, Dean of the Robins School of Business, says, “As companies begin the slow climb out of this steep downturn, they will have to draw upon the ingenuity and skill of their employees to discover new ways of doing business.”


  • More than 67 percent expect to continue to operate without significant layoffs. (Only 19% expect significant layoffs, while about 14% are uncertain at this time.)
  • Seventy-three percent of CEOs whose workforce has shifted to work-from-home report that productivity is “about the same.” Twelve percent rate it “much better,” while 15% rate it “much worse.”  And 42% expect that compared with their workforce in January, more employees will work from home after the crisis is over.  
  • Although nearly 37% of CEOs indicate that Virginia’s timetable for reopening the state is “about right,” nearly half find it “a little too slow” (17%) or “way too slow” (30.4%).  About 11% rate it “a little too fast,” and only 5% rate it “way too fast.”    


This month found that executives’ expectations for sales, hiring and employment improved slightly over last month. To summarize, CEOs predictions over the next six months include:

  • 56.1 percent expect sales to be lower over the next six months (an improvement from 77% last month). 42.7 percent expect the decline to be more than 10 percentage points (compared 66 percent). 
  • About 32 percent expect sales to increase (vs. 13 percent), while 12.2 percent expect sales to remain flat (vs. 10 percent).  
  • About 52 percent of CEOs expect capital spending to decrease (compared with 73 percent last month)
  • Nearly 10 percent expect capital spending to increase over the next six months (no change).
  • More than 38 percent expect capital spending to remain flat (vs. 17 percent).  
  • Twenty-seven percent of respondent CEOs expect employment to decrease over the next six months (down from 37 percent last month).
  • 51 percent expect employment to remain flat (vs. 53 percent), and 22 percent expect an increase in employment (vs. 10 percent).  
  • 82 CEOs responded to the survey, which was administered May 20-22. 
  • Multiple industries are represented in the sample, including construction, manufacturing, finance, insurance, and retail.
  • The average company whose CEO responded to this survey had about $21 million in revenue for the most recent 12-month period.
  • The average employment was about 47.


The Robins School and VACEOs jointly conduct the quarterly survey, which regularly asks about expectations for sales, capital spending and employment, plus other relevant issues, helping Virginia companies anticipate business conditions and plan for growth.

The Robins School adapted the survey from the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of American companies that conducts a similar survey nationally. Randy Raggio, associate dean at the Robins School, administers the survey and collects the responses each quarter. The survey has been administered quarterly since 2010.

Read Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage >


The Council continues to expand the survey beyond its members, offering any area business owners whose companies gross at least $1 million in annual revenue the opportunity to participate. If enough businesses participate, the Council will provide survey results by industry. Participation is free, and all participants will receive copies of the survey data.

Business owners and CEOs who would like to participate in the next survey should contact Scot McRoberts at smcroberts@vaceos.org.



The Virginia Council of CEOs is a nonprofit association whose mission is to connect the CEOs of small and mid-sized businesses for learning and growth. The Council is led by a volunteer board of directors, advisory board and a small staff. Currently, there are more than 200 CEO members, mainly in Richmond and Charlottesville. Learn more at www.vaceos.org.



The Robins School of Business is the only fully accredited, highly-ranked undergraduate business school that also is part of a highly-ranked liberal arts university. U.S. News ranks the Robins School’s MBA program #35 in the country. The school’s executive education division offers open enrollment courses and customized leadership development, training and consulting to area businesses.

Posted by Staff at 8:23 am
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Road to Recovery

As a business leader you are at the tip of the spear making significant decisions that affect real people. It is a lonely place to be most days. The stakes could not be higher, and as business leaders, we have great responsibility and opportunity as we navigate our way through this crisis. Over the last eight weeks, you have been inundated with articles and guidance on the things that you need to be doing, right now…PPP, loan forgiveness, cash flow modeling, layoffs, furloughs, rehires, open, close, PPE, testing, screening,…the list goes on and on.  

We also know that leading an organization is often a thankless job, particularly when faced with making hard decisions that may put employees in tough positions. Now is a good time to step back and reflect on the accomplishments. Allow us to take a moment to simply say THANK YOU for your leadership during this health crisis, business disruption and preparation for the economic challenges we will surely face even as COVID subsides and the business disruption lifts.  

We’ve seen this cycle happen before and we know will be stronger as a business community and nation. But it is painful, right now. But don’t lose heart, a business leader and friend of mine said it so well at the onset of this crisis, “the work that we are about to do will be the most important work that we will likely ever accomplish in our careers.”  So again THANK YOU for leading, and congratulations on having the guts to make critical decisions in rapid-fire succession to protect your businesses and the families that it supports, and for persevering.  

As we navigate situations that are new and unfamiliar, I encourage you to establish your absolutes….define them and write them down. If you don’t, you will risk deviating from what’s most important to you, your business and your people. Share them with others that keep you accountable and use them as a cornerstone as you continue to solve problems, evaluate risks and make decisions.  

We have been forced into opportunities to make critical decisions but the work we are doing right now will set us up for the future. We need to be quick to react or face the realities of running out of time. Paraphrasing Peter Drucker, I leave you with this, “in turbulent times we can’t act with yesterday’s logic.”  We all can benefit from fresh material, broad insights, objective candor and the ability to press into hard decisions with counsel from others.  

You are members of the Virginia Council of CEOs because you value outside perspective, just like we advise because we value helping companies and their leaders make and execute on key decisions at critical points in their journey. We are here to help you find your straightest path forward.

About the Author

Chip Bowman is a Managing Director responsible for developing Fahrenheit’s business in Virginia and providing clients with customized strategies for solving their challenges and growing their business. He is skilled in leading operations and finance functions across numerous public and private industries including banking, healthcare, family business, education, manufacturing, and real estate development. He has a demonstrated ability to drive growth based on strategic vision and management of daily operations through process improvement, performance management, systems building, financial initiatives, and policy design and implementation. Chip also has experience in turnaround situations for middle market clients.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Image and content provided by Fahrenheit Advisors. Fahrenheit Advisors is a Sponsor of Virginia Council of CEOs.

Posted by Staff at 7:29 am
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Rent-the-Help Rebrands, Young CEO Embraces Today’s Challenges

It is a gap in the labor market that ultimately birthed two businesses, and the young CEO at the helm is embracing the pandemic challenges he now faces. 

“One of my favorite parts about being a business owner is being faced with challenges and then formulating different strategies to overcome them,” says Corey Divine, president of Candidate Source and a member of VACEOs. “The past six weeks have presented unique challenges for my employees, clients, and vendors and together we have had to make adjustments. It is important to realize that everyone is dealing with this pandemic and the only way we can survive is to support each other and work together.” 

Corey Divine’s initial business, Rent-the-Help, opened in 2012. The business model filled a gap he saw in the residential labor market. It gave homeowners a place to go for help with odd jobs, like cleaning out a shed or helping with yard work.

Says the Charlottesville native:  “In the eight years we’ve been in business, we’ve probably helped 5,000 people move or do an odd project, whether it be stacking firewood, setting up for a yard sale, or move to Florida or Texas,” he explains. “But as we got into more staffing and long-term placements in warehouses and administrative settings, the Rent-to-Help name just didn’t fit fully as we grew,” he adds.

Noticing the new niche, Divine developed a business designed to attract quality candidates and clients who were seeking long-term placements. And in 2020, Candidate Source was born.

Divine reports Candidate Source currently employs six different individuals to recruit and market his business.

“I’m really excited about the rebrand and how it positions us. I think that our team, most importantly, is excited about it. They all feel more confident telling people, ‘Hey, we’re with Candidate Source.’ They feel better. And what’s cool is that they’ve all been here, all my senior folks, who’ve been here for five plus years. So they’ve seen the evolution of the company grow and then they can enjoy this change as well,” he explains.

About the new challenges he is facing, he adds, “Since our team spends the majority of their days interviewing candidates, we have had to significantly adjust our operation to ensure we can continue to deliver our clients the people they need. While expanded unemployment benefits have made recruiting more challenging (applications have dropped by 90%), our team has gotten creative and has been able to deliver what our clients need. During these difficult times it is a privilege to continue to service our clients and we look forward to building even stronger relationships with them in the months to come.”

“Having my roundtable has been a blessing throughout the pandemic. The relationships I have built with roundtable #13 over the past few years have proven to be a solid rock during an otherwise unstable time.” – Corey Divine



Corey Divine joined the Council in 2017, making him a relatively new member. What motivated him to join? “Because I wanted to invest in myself and make my business better by making myself better,” he tells us.

Adding, “I always joke that you might walk into your roundtable meeting or walk into a Quarterly Lunch and you’re just super-stressed or struggling with an issue in your business. And I can’t think of a time where I walked out more stressed than when I walked in. I always feel calmer. And I think that’s just because it provides an education and a confidence as you go about your day. You look at all these folks, at what they are doing and how they are impacting our community in a positive way. I want to do more of that. It breeds a growth mindset, which is really exciting.”

Members within the VA Council of CEOs are placed within confidential and highly-structured peer groups. A safe haven, where members share what is going on in their lives and in their businesses. The Roundtable experience sharing is about addressing the CEO as a whole.

Corey and two of his roundtable members enjoy golf together.

“Having my roundtable has been a blessing throughout the pandemic. The relationships I have built with roundtable #13 over the past few years have proven to be a solid rock during an otherwise unstable time,” says Divine. “We have spent many hours sharing resources, giving feedback, and just having simple conversations. Having fellow CEOs on speed dial who are navigating similar challenges is something that dollars can not buy. It has been great to see what so many VACEOs Members have done for our community and I look forward to continuing to work together in the months to come.“

True to his character, Divine is an active member, showing up at almost every event and even volunteering as chair of the Membership Committee. He’s quick to encourage his fellow members to become active in the VACEOs community as well.  

“I encourage members to go to Council events. You won’t regret it,” he says. “The education is great and I feel like the more you invest in the community, the more the community will invest in you, and you will get more value from your membership. And I can speak firsthand because whenever I join organizations, I get in the weeds and try to help improve in any way I can and serve in any way I can. And it’s always benefited me in a positive way. It’s a good investment.”

Ready to invest in yourself? Virginia Council of CEOs has developed a special no-cost membership in response to COVID-19. Visit VACEOs Community Membership page to learn more.


Posted by Staff at 7:23 am
Labels: ,
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Virginia CEOs Find Answers and Solace in Peer Groups

Melissa Ball takes a snapshot of her roundtable practicing safe social distancing during recent meeting.

To say that many small and mid-sized Virginia business owners find themselves on an emotional and operational roller coaster today is an understatement. 

Connie Hom, CEO, Buckingham Greenery

“We as CEOs have been plummeted into chaos, and the levels of stress for us have accelerated exponentially,” says Connie Hom, CEO of Buckingham Greenery. “We are taking the lead in this crisis, and our teams look to us not only for empathy, but also for guidance and true leadership. This is probably the best test of how we’re leading.” 

As the backbone of the U.S. economy, how will small business CEOs manage the COVID-19 crisis? Some, like Hom and Charlie Connell, CEO of PUNCH, are finding a safe haven in confidential (and virtual) peer roundtable meetups. Both Hom and Connell are members of the Virginia Council of CEOs, and Hom says her roundtable group has given her “the opportunity to vent challenges in a very safe place.”

“The feeling is that I’m not in this siloed by myself,” Hom explains. “This has been a fast-paced, changing environment. There are decisions as a CEO in regard to labor, clients and revenue, and the shared experiences have been very helpful. The virtual roundtable has truly been a breath of fresh air, and the Council membership has proven to be, for me, a port in the storm.”

Connell agrees. “My roundtable has always helped me deal with the emotional side of running a business. Now, more than ever, it has helped me navigate the business end of it. Without my roundtable’s support, I would not have been able to sift through all the information we were bombarded with in terms of the Payroll Protection Act and all the other support options that were put in front of business owners. Our experience-sharing has been more influential than any other resource in making the decisions I have made to deal with our current situation.”


(Left) Charlie Connell, CEO, PUNCH with his pups. (Right) Charlie’s roundtable enjoy a retreat together.



The nature of the confidential information shared within VACEOs peer roundtable groups means that trust among members often grows quickly and runs deep. 

Melissa Ball of Ball Office Products

Melissa Ball, Managing Member at Ball Office Products, has been a member of VACEOs since 2011. She describes her roundtable as “a good, solid group with a high level of comfort with each other.” Where they once met once a month for several hours, they’re now meeting every week for an hour. She says the format of the meeting now is less structured than before, but it’s been an invaluable outlet for her and other members. 

On top of managing her family at home, Ball is also managing new vendors, new customer relationships, new ways of handling freight inventory, and much more. “I’ve never worked harder,” she says. “Sometimes you just need a sanity check, you know what I mean? I’m like, ‘How crazy am I really for thinking this or doing this?’ And then I’ll be like, ‘Okay, it’s not just me.’ It might sound flippant, but it’s real. When you’re able to pose a question to somebody and say, ‘Okay, guys, here’s what I’m thinking,’ it’s helpful to hear what other people are doing, especially as it relates to payroll and HR and emotions.”


Many of the CEOs we spoke with reported that at times they’ve had almost too much information coming at them from well-meaning organizations and industry groups – and that it sometimes adds to the chaos. 

JJ White, CEO of Dale Carnegie Southeast United States

JJ White, CEO of Dale Carnegie Southeast United States, perhaps most concisely expressed how many CEOs are feeling by saying, “Now, more than ever, is the most critical time in your business to find people who can help you get through this, but more than just get through it – actually create something in your business so that you’ll come out of this better than you’ve ever been before.”

Do you run a small or mid-sized business in Virginia? Don’t face these challenging times alone. Now until September 30, 2020, VACEOs is offering a no-strings, no-cost membership to those who would most benefit from the experience. Learn more at vaceos.org/community-membership





Posted by Staff at 7:19 am
Labels: , , , ,