The depot in downtown Coeur d’Alene, once a train depot, is the beautifully renovated office building for John Swallow’s New Jersey Mining Co.
Photos by MIKE PATRICK/BJNI
Editor’s note: The Press is seeking suggestions from businesses and other organizations for staying afloat in these challenging times. Here’s one of them.
John Swallow is CEO of New Jersey Mining Company, headquartered in the depot in downtown Coeur d’Alene. He’s also the founder and chairman of Continuous Composites (located next to the depot) and owner (with Tyler Alvarado) of McAllister Technical Services, which is located at 12th and Sherman.
“Together we have around 100 people we are responsible for in all three businesses,” Swallow said today. “Most of our employees at New Jersey are located in the Silver Valley and we are actually a decent economic engine for Shoshone County (and proud of it).”
Swallow shared with The Press a letter released to employees, their families and stakeholders.
He said it’s times like these “that we must find the pieces that fit and discard the noise, simplify things down to the most simple piece of which we have control and build out from there.”
Here’s John’s letter:
“May you live in interesting times.” Whether or not those words are actually a Chinese curse is irrelevant (although the irony of the assumed source is not lost on me.)
Over the last weeks, during the drives back and forth to the mine and mill I found myself thinking about the sources of our individual resilience and the collective scrappiness of the folks at New Jersey and the citizens of North Idaho (and Montana). I also reflected on how the traits needed to build a company (or a turn-around) are similar to those a person reaches for in times of uncertainty and/or personal challenge.
To way over-simplify the comparison, by utilizing a “aim small, miss small” approach at NJMC, any fallout from mistakes was kept to a minimum, the noise was just noise and we didn’t allow unsolicited advice from others to deter us from the task at hand. With a modest base of “the known” to build from, we determined the direction and started out on the trip… essentially getting comfortable with the idea of assembling the car as it is headed down the highway.
And while we still fully acknowledge what “could go wrong” (as it is usually waiting for us at the start of each day), we still do not make any “all-in bets” or allow much time for paralysis by analysis to develop. We conservatively own it and go… knowing what is on the line.
I firmly believe that you will find the news you look for — and have found some comfort in the stories from folks that have documented their coronavirus journey and are now recovering and/or back at work. Just as we did not blindly follow the advice of those that have not built a company or put a mine into production, I believe we also need to look for and pay attention to those that have this virus as well as those that have conquered it. Social media can be the source of much angst, but it can also be of great help. And avoiding self-imposed internet rabbit holes is important in times like this.
This is a difficult time that we will get through together. I greatly appreciate that each of us is taking care of ourselves and families, thus taking care of our fellow employees and their families, thus taking care of our respective communities. Furthermore, I am glad we chose to be in the gold business and built the base of our company during difficult times in our industry. We cannot control commodity prices, but there has been a market for gold for more than 2,000 years and the current business checklist is a mere fraction of what it was a few years ago. And as we have often acknowledged — it was considerably harder to get to where we are than it will be to get to where we are going.
Let’s stay diligent, focused and cognizant of the world around us, and if anything is needed do not hesitate to let us know. The mine, mill and offices are open, but let’s remain smart about it. If someone is feeling ill or exposed… well, you know the drill. Please take this seriously.
This too shall pass, but we definitely have some work ahead of us.