Alta businesses in the age of COVID

Friday, July 3, 2020

Pam Henderson, co-president of the Alta Community Chamber, said that to her knowledge, businesses in Alta that had closed due to COVID-19 have reopened with the exception of two restaurants.

The pandemic has brought both pros and cons to area businesses, and Kathy Peterson, President of PeopleWorks, Inc., sees the glass half full. Her company specializes in leadership training and development and is also a venue for meetings and parties.

Over the past few months, she has adapted their programs to be delivered virtually and all over the world. “It’s a new landscape and you have to adjust, adapt, and be flexible,” Peterson said. Some clients now want a combination of online and face-to-face options.

Unique opportunities have recently come her way. For one, she was asked to be a roundtable panelist on a topic about COVID-19 and topics to help farmers navigate through this time. “We had people join from around the world join in to learn about the topic.”

In addition, a June conference where she was scheduled to speak turned into a remote Zoom program. “100 people from all over Iowa tuned in live to my program last week, and it was recorded and is being shared with people who couldn’t attend the live Zoom.”

“In the end, I’m able to reach more people than I would’ve been able to in-person – and I’m putting WAY less miles on my car,” Peterson said. “I do miss the pre-program small talk and the during-the-program side conversations I usually get to have, but I appreciate the opportunity to still be able to do what I love and continue to reach and teach people through all of this craziness.”

Another Alta business owner, Clem Ledoux of Century Bar and Bowling, reopened the beginning of May. He advertises Century as a hole in the wall bar that everyone loves, and it is the only eating establishment open in town at this time.

Ledoux closed Century during March and April which hurt financially, he said. He stayed home for those two months and focused on cleaning and sanitizing the bar.

The bowling alley is up and running as well, and league bowling will begin earlier than normal, possibly the first week of August. He is open 7 days per week with some limited hours at night. The other two Alta restaurants, Buffalo Ridge Cafe and Scooter’s Bar and Grill, have not reopened yet.

Aric and Mandi Aronson, owners of Aronson Plumbing and Heating, were relatively untouched by the pandemic in the workplace. “It’s been going good. We did not close down. We were busier than ever,” Mandi said.

Their number-one priority was the safety of their customers, some of whom were worried about health risks and workers entering their homes. Employees took extra precautions which included using masks and hand sanitizers.

“We’ve been blessed to continue working,” she said. She is the other half of the Alta Community Chamber co-presidency along with Pam Henderson.

Alta Implement Co., Inc., never closed its doors during the pandemic because the implement business is qualified as essential. “Obviously, our customers needed to continue care of their crops and livestock, so we also needed to serve our customers to the best of our abilities,” Operations Manager Denny O’Bryan said.

They took extra effort to protect employees and customers from transmission of the virus. “Our shop area was and still is off-limits to all customers as well as limited in-house movement between parts and sales,” he said. “We had to change our parts and sales marketing strategies to less physical contact by use of the telephone and internet services.”

Employees had limited contact with customers and provided curbside and in some cases free on-farm delivery.

O’Bryan is uncertain how the pandemic has affected the company financially, but expects a new normal as do most individuals and businesses. “Like most people we would like for the pandemic to be over and done, but also afraid that is expecting too much.”