*Emblematic* #13 – Gilbane’s Ryan Hutchins: “Core values kicked into high gear and the mission motivated our teams.” plus NYC rises for ramadan with 500,000 halal meals and Publix sends farm surplus to food pantries


This is *Emblematic* #13. For Issues 1 through 12 Click here. We are shining a spotlight on stories of inspired leadership in the coronavirus crisis. The idea is to inspire greatness in all of us. Now is the time.

gilbane sets an example of a business that knew who it was before this crisis hit and who it needed to be now

On March 24th, the Gilbane Building Company’s blog featured a detailed post entitled “What can we do to help” designed to give employees, clients, partners and other stakeholders a sense that everyone is needed for this crisis and that there were tangible, immediate ways to safely make a difference.

Emblem Strategic’s Andy Tarsy had a chance to put five questions to Ryan Hutchins, Executive Vice-President of Gilbane Building Company about leading in this time of crisis and upheaval for so many people, communities, businesses and the economy as a whole.

Andy: I see Gilbane everywhere in the response to COVID. How do you decide to do that and what is the vision for all the initiatives?

Ryan: Gilbane is a 150-year old family run construction company that operates out of 9 geographic divisions.  Because our leadership is local in all these areas, we are ingrained in the communities that we live in and want to be able to support as many communities as we can.  So it starts with one of our Core Values of Caring. 

Andy: What do your employees say about all these extra projects you take on?

Ryan: All of our team members have a can-do attitude.  As witnessed locally in MA with our response to the Lawrence community as they dealt with the over-pressurization of natural gas in 2018, we mobilized 150 team members from across the country in less then 3 weeks.   We treat the COVID-19 hospital projects in the same way.  We ask for volunteers and people jump at the opportunity to help.  We are all builders at heart, and we love helping people.  Our one-company philosophy at Gilbane is that we are “Building More Than Buildings”.

“Core values kicked into high gear and the mission motivated our teams.” – Ryan Hutchins, EVP, Gilbane Building Company

Andy: Do you feel like this activity is all about COVID or does it feel organic to core commitments and culture of the company that were already present?

Ryan: Gilbane is a family-owned business family.  Our culture is highly responsive, and people focused.  Whether it is our employees, clients, industry partners or the community, we are structured to take care of those we are responsible for and exceed expectations.  As the COVID crisis evolved, our crisis team took the reins to leverage Gilbane’s one-company resources and respond to those in need. Core values kicked into high gear and the mission motivated our teams.

Andy: What is it like being in an industry that has to keep people out there working in so many places when there is still so much risk of infection?

Ryan: As an industry, the first few weeks of the pandemic were unpredictable.  We have contractual commitments to our clients, and we were receiving mixed directions from many different groups.  We knew we immediately had to secure our sites and assure that any employee or trade partner that entered the site could expect it to be disinfected.  I am happy to report that all of our sites that are working have all of the right protocols in place.  As many of our safety rules are more stringent than OSHA requirements, the same applies in this case to the CDC guidelines. We are doing temperature checks, cleaning high touch areas hourly, providing proper hand-washing/sanitizer stations and using technology to assure social distancing is being followed. 

Andy: Any words of advice for those leading organizations or businesses through this period?

Ryan: I truly believe that the companies that survive and grow when this pandemic is over are ones that treat their employees well.  All of our decisions have been based on making sure we are in business for another 150 years, but we can’t do that without all of our 3,000+ employees who deliver for our clients every day. 

New york city steps up to provide HALF A MILLION FREE halal meals for ramadan

New York City will serve a half-million Halal meals during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, in a program that could provide food for 2 million residents who are unable to pay, according to a Bloomberg News report quoting NYC Mayor Bil DeBlasi. The City’s inclusive meals program has made available “10 million grab-and-go meals at 435 sites and via taxi to housebound New Yorkers, at a cost of at least $170 million.”

Publix Markets to buy farm surplus and donate it to food pantries in southeastern Us

You’ve heard the news that farmers are destroying massive quantities of food because so many of their customers in the restaurant and hospitality industry are shut down or feeding far fewer people than they normally would. According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal the Lakeland, Florida based Publix Super Markets Inc. will buy surplus milk and produce and donate it all to Feeding America food banks which are spread across seven states in the southeastern US.

Farmers have dumped excess food due to plunging demand during the coronavirus crisis..


Multi-media star Mike Muse is an important public intellectual, cultural observer and critic. He is also a champion for more equitable access to relief funds.

With one report after another making the US effort to support small businesses seem hollow, doubt and disappointment are swirling around the CARES Act initiative even as the second tranche of payroll protection grants become available this week. Between Harvard, Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House (all three have returned their money) getting paid while the mom and pop economy largely stands on the sidelines, things need to get better. In this environment, some tremendous resources have emerged from states, foundations, and the corporate community. ABC News Special Contributor and SiriusXM Radio program host Mike Muse provides a terrific list of grants and resources around the country here. Muse has shared multiple important opinion pieces focusing on the disparate impact on Blacks and African Americans in various elements of the COVID-19 crisis. Muse’s pieces on the urgency of data about who is getting sick and dying and about the effective exclusion of Black owned businesses from the federal bail-out are must-reads today.

More places to look for resources? The Chronicle of Philanthropy is compiling resources and keeping their list updated and the Boston Foundation has a great regional round-up here. Sources as different as Freshbooks.com with a resource list for freelancers and Forbes offering a round-up are all worth looking at if you are trying to find help for yourself or others right now. Widen the scope of your search for resources and use your voice to tell political and business leaders what you need. If you are a Black, African American, Latinx or immigrant-owned business & want free help writing non-bank grant applications for #COVID19 related relief please ping us here. Outstanding writers available. Free help. Empathy and equity – not charity. Let’s go. Thanks.

In the US, for the most up to date information about Coronavirus health and safety, please contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Elsewhere please contact your local and national authorities. Stay safe, be smart.

Emblematic is a publication of Emblem Strategic LLC. For more information contact info@EmblemStrategic.com. Andrew Tarsy is Principal and Founder of Emblem Strategic LLC. We can help you make sure your choices in this crisis are emblematic of the core values and the vision that drives your organization even in the best of times. Let’s talk!

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