Thanks for this year. (What, are you crazy?)

Thanks for this year. (What, are you crazy?)

This was a year to remember, not forget.

First and always we remember the thousands who died including Dan O’Brien our young super who died on Christmas eve. It was a year of trial and testing. Yet, it was a good year. We’re healthy and here. This is part of our new definition of “good”. Good has suddenly become more accessible and achievable. Our relative helplessness humbled us. And humility is always good. The pandemic brought fear and anxiety for sure—which is not so good. However, this anxiety caused us to examine our core and drove us to the wisdom of past leaders like Nelson Mandela, who said

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” – Nelson Mandela

Our generation has never faced such a powerful foe.

While this fear exposed some selfish behavior, the common threat also connected us in some glorious ways. In this connectedness we’re learning to triumph together. For Tocci it came in two forms.

The triumph of the practical

We quickly retooled safety to restore work on site. Before masks were endorsed, we implemented full face shields and hygienic equipment. We followed with task planning to distance workers and sequenced site staffing. Under the courageous leadership of our Supers jobs quickly came back to life. We retained a Lean expert to drive efficiency and schedule recovery to take back our losses.

The triumph of the soul

We engaged the battle for our character. You may have read David Brooks’, “The Road to Character”, where he distinguishes “resumé virtues” from “eulogy virtues”. Resumé virtues are often inflated but cherished by the professional marketplace while eulogy virtues are those recognized and celebrated by others—ones that count most like courage, kindness, strength, persistence, and calmness in crisis (unflappable).

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. Isaiah 48:10

This kind of virtue is formed under fire, much like the purification of metals which only give up their impurities under intense heat, causing hidden flaws to surface like dross. And if COVID wasn’t enough heat, add the pain of George Floyd’s death and the stark realization of our own latent prejudice. In this furnace of 2020 we should take solace in Theodore Roosevelt’s observation:

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Lessons learned and purpose engaged

In 2010, we began implementation of a distributed digital workplace. But it took 2020 to kick it in the butt. And we are thankful. Over the past 9 months we’ve tightened our team. Our common struggle helped us rely on and appreciate each other. We’re a better company for this. The great uncertainty of COVID inspired weekly all-hands meetings with fresh transparency. We drove close to the edge together. We even developed our own Teams app called “Stand Up Sally” for daily and weekly small team accountability and assistance. We’re thankful for these improvements which may never have come without 2020.

Office staff spent unprecedented time at home. Our appreciation of design and space and function grew immensely. In meetings with our talented design partners, we saw how the lessons of 2020 were helping them forever change what home looks like. And on a deeper level, this time alone with “home” helped us realize anew the despair of housing disparity. Never has the lack of a safe, warm home been more obviously wrong to us. We are thankful for this pain of conscience. It’s driving us to develop systems to produce housing that’s more affordable without sacrificing good design. May real social action be one of the changes which survive the cure.

We are truly thankful for the good this difficult year has worked in us. And with you, we will endeavor to go forward, for good.


  1. I was thinking similarly as I reflected upon 2020. Unique challenges? Absolutely! However, it gave Tocci and everyone world-wide to dig deep and to overcome an ominous opponent. Impressive how the world adapted to this pandemic and mechanisms to minimize it’s impact. From a specific standpoint – the Worcester Courthouse team did yeoman work in maintaining an aggressive schedule and not allowing the many excuses and outside impacts from preventing them from achieving their primary-initial goal, a temporary occupancy permit by 12.31.20. Multiple individuals contacted COVID, particularly our own critically important Superintendent, Brendan Clifford. However, the team overcame and Brendan contributed via texts, e-mails, phone calls, conference calls whenever possible to keep the progress going. We had several workers test positive for COVID, yet the testing of others who worked alongside them almost uniformly came back negative – indicating that the extreme diligence to safe conduct on site made a real difference in containing the potential disaster to jobsite safety and progress. Congrats Tocci Field team, particularly Tim Lyons, and all our trade partners. Sometimes it is not just what you achieve, it is also what you overcome IN ORDER to achieve! God Bless – and may 2021 be spectacular for all. And remember – Keep Diligent, we ain’t out of this yet! (VJT)

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