2020 was an eventful year, to say the least, despite the lack of actual recreational events. Mark Laferla Jr, Executive Director at Laferla reflects.
As the defining factor of the year (and possibly of the decade), the onset of the global pandemic COVID-19 brought with it a number of new challenges as well as a novel way of life. Apart from birthday parties, weddings, concerts and events being cancelled, many businesses were forced to look towards any survival tools available to them just to keep their organisation alive. Whether this meant investing in online commerce, implementing delivery services, as well as permitting remote working, many organisations found that they needed to announce new procedures in order to keep afloat.
As a result, much needed investments were made concerning technological improvements within business organisations, such as online portals and product management services. Malta suddenly found itself able to cater to public services online, and businesses discovered the benefits of introducing the concept of delivery to their list of services. If we look at COVID from this angle, could it even be possible to say that despite its challenges, 2020 was a positive year?
We’re not so sure that the year’s positive aspects do in fact overcome the challenges. Some businesses were either not as prepared for measures introduced by the government, or the industry in which they found themselves did not allow for their continued existence post-COVID. Any organisation dependent on tourism was sure to feel the pressure, and naturally, a ripple effect with partner and subsidiary companies began. The firms affected by COVID the most were themselves clients to others, and the economic consequences of the whole year are yet to be felt.
For Laferla, 2020 marked a number of ups and downs as COVID-19 had brought with it many challenges. However, the stability which Laferla had built over these last three and a half decades meant that the firm was able to get through the especially hard year without compromising on its values, operations and staff compliment. On the contrary, the organisation welcomed new additions to the team, invested strongly in marketing as well as IT and office infrastructure, and looked towards new projects in Malta and abroad. The fact that Laferla has offered contactless customer support through various channels, and self-administration of policies to clients for a number of years, positioned it well to cope with the need to cut down on face-to-face contact during the pandemic. Further developments such as online claim submission and a further improvement in payment methods helped to further lessen the effects.
Despite this, as Malta started to emerge from the first wave of the pandemic, and business seemed to be getting back to normal, the company mourned the death of one of Laferla’s founding directors, the late Mrs Mary Rose Laferla, who passed away on the 2ndJune 2020. Mother to the founder, Mary Rose was crucial to the setting up of the company, helping not only to establish the insurance agency, but by offering frank and valuable advice, and providing unfailing support to the firm.
With the onset of the third quarter, the company announced the much-awaited appointment of a new director, Keith Laferla. The appointment, which came into effect on the 12th October 2020, is expected to strengthen Laferla’s involvement in the introduction of new and special projects, and so continue the upward trend in growth that Laferla has experienced since its conception.
A week after the appointment, Laferla also celebrated the great performance of the Dufour 44R race boat, Ton Ton Laferla at the 2020 edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race. The sailing boat, which Laferla signed a five-year sponsorship deal with in 2019, did remarkably well in the race, placing First in its category, Second in ORC and Third overall. The substantial investment contributed by Laferla, made possible the upgrade of Ton Ton Laferla whilst strengthening the long-standing relationship between the company and the racing boat’s skipper and owner Jonathan Gambin of Malta Charters.
October 2020 also marked the 36th anniversary of the founding of the company. The milestone marks a successful year of growth and nurtured relationships despite the challenges that 2020 brought with it.
Was 2020 a wasted year? Despite all the challenges that 2020 seems to have brought with it, the year, if nothing else, has thought us the importance of stability within a business, the vitality of preparing for a rainy day, and the value of maintaining relationships in good times and in bad.