How to become essential when you're nonessential.

April 15, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis that’s currently gripping the world is without a doubt one of the largest and most impactful events to occur in our lifetime. It has had an impact on virtually every type of business both large and small.

Businesses of all types are being temporarily shut down to try to control the spread of the disease, with only those businesses and organizations that are deemed essential being allowed to remain operational.

Industries that are still operational include:

  • Hospitals and healthcare providers
  • Utility services (power, water, communication, etc.)
  • Transportation and shipping companies
  • Grocery stores and pharmacies

This of course means that a company like ours, that provides mobility solutions and mPOS device accessories, was branded nonessential. We were left with little choice but to temporarily close and for employees to self quarantine in their homes. Not an ideal situation for us (or our clients, for that matter), and certainly providing no obvious opportunity for us to help in this fight. 

What it means to be essential

That’s where things get a little tricky, as there really isn’t a good definition available during this crisis.

According to an April 8, 2020 article on the US News and World Report website, what ultimately classifies as an essential business varies from state to state and even from county to county. Most would agree that health care workers, transit workers and grocery store employees are essential in and of themselves, but arguments could probably be made for other services too.

Even the government isn’t much help. Here in Michigan, according to Executive Order 2020-21, ‘essential’ includes those “who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences”; an equally vague description.

Because of this ambiguity, it thankfully leaves the door open for an interpretation that many organizations could get behind as a way to become seen as essential. For example, it’s been widely reported that many companies, groups, and schools are offering their 3D printers and supplies for use in making face shields and masks for healthcare workers. Although that isn’t their main business that support function does seem like a pretty essential operation so it’s allowed.

How we’re helping

Although we know we’re important to our clients and the industries we serve, according to the State of Michigan, we don’t meet their definition of an essential business. We can respect that, but that didn’t stop us from wanting to still do something in this time of insecurity and upheaval.

One of the companies we work with regularly and that’s located nearby is currently performing a support service for an essential business in Michigan, and thereby is quite necessary in their services. We certainly applaud all companies who are actively engaged in combating this current crisis, and this company is no exception.

As our neighbor company continues to work, it came to our attention that they were growing short on space in their own facility. Due to the lockdown, much of our space is currently unoccupied and is literally sitting unused. Understanding that this was an area where we could assist, we immediately offered to let them utilize whatever space in our warehouse that they may need.

It wasn’t long before they took advantage of this offer, moving their regular stocked items into our building to make more space available in their own area for the materials needed in the new essential function.

Give What You Can

The above is an example of the good that’s coming from this crisis and the potential need others may have. Right now, many people and businesses are hoping for ways to be helpful, to provide relief, give back, and make a difference if they can. The forced lockdown changed what we were allowed to do, surely, but we still wanted to be involved and do our part.

We found our way.

So if you feel the way we did, that something, even if it’s indirectly helpful is a good thing to do, look around and find something you, your business, your employees, friends and/or families can do to help these essential service providers.

They’re working hard to do the things that have to get done to keep moving forward and protect the people. As our actions prove, even the smallest gesture can be of help to these hardworking organizations,  allow others to do their part, and also move from nonessential to essential.

-- Mike Burns, President


To learn more about Handeholder Products, Inc., visit

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