Meet Beth Sak, Sherwin-Williams, Connecting in a New Town Despite the Pandemic

by | Sep 28, 2020 | Family Friendly Stuff, NE Ohio in the News, Networking & Connections, Newcomer Profiles, Public Spaces, Parks & Recreation, Schools & Education

Beth and her family relocated from Illinois to Chagrin Falls in the fall of 2019 for her job at Sherwin-Williams.  She shared her thoughts on how to connect and feel at home in a new town during a global pandemic.
Q. How did you balance personal and work life this past spring when shelter-in-place orders were handed down from Ohio’s Governor?
A. There was no balance in the beginning. I was working 12-14 hours a day, from a makeshift office in my basement. I wouldn’t see sunlight at all. I didn’t have the right desk or chair and I kept switching out where I was sitting and where my computer was until I found a comfortable solution. As Vice President, Human Resources for Sherwin-Williams in the Automotive and Aerospace Division, I had employees on five continents dealing with the challenges the pandemic brought to their personal and work life. Like every company, our entire workforce was working from a different location in just a matter of days so it was a blur. We were actively monitoring our employees who contracted COVID-19 to ensure their health improved, learning daily what the new directives from health and government officials in all those countries required and engaging with our employees virtually to ensure they felt connected and informed as information became available. I was on phone and video calls to so many different time zones that I had to constantly remind myself not only what day it was, but what time it was. Now I am back in the office several days a week and our employees are all starting to come back to our headquarters in downtown Cleveland in phases. I was also supposed to be traveling once a week from January thru July and all of that stopped in March, giving me lots of family time which was great.
Q. Since you relocated just months before a global pandemic, how are your children dealing with all the additional changes happening in their lives?
A. My children are 7 and 9 years old and in the 2nd and 4th grade at St. Rita’s in Solon. Their school voluntarily chose to close down two weeks before most other Ohio schools, so we had a jumpstart on figuring it out compared to many of our neighbors. And then when on-line school ended, there were no activities to keep them busy. Sports, play dates, ballet classes all cancelled, so we created Mommy Summer Camp with arts and crafts and learning assignments and outdoor activities. I reached out to their teachers and ordered five workbooks for each child and consulted the kids on what books they would like to read thru the summer. Every day my kids spent the morning focused on learning and reading then I paused the video calls at noon so they slide the completed assignments under my office door at home with a note that said “Can I go play now?”, and it would make me smile. They are proving to me they can work independently and it makes me proud.
Q. How have you found ways to enjoy your new city?
A. I find fun things to do with my family on weekends using the Northeast Ohio Family Fun’s newsletter and website which I highly find recommend. As a newcomer it gave me lots of ideas for what to do even during a global pandemic. We also joined Chagrin Valley Country Club which provided outdoor activities and a way to socialize in a safe space.  It’s been a great mix of women who work in the home and outside the home and the kids were on the swim team this summer and really enjoyed the pool. I also signed up to be on the email distribution list for the Cleveland Metroparks, Holden Arboretum and many other places so we knew what was going on and could take advantage of activities.
Q. I know that your daily workouts are really important to you. How did you adjust when the gyms all closed during the early months of the pandemic?
A. I was working remotely from home, so I ran through Chagrin Falls and explored the town and neighborhoods on foot and on bikes with my family. The weather was so beautiful this summer and I was grateful we could all be outside as we are a very active, outdoorsy family. When my kids went back to school in person in September, I went back to Orange Theory, so I could workout again at 5:00 am then be back in time for work, school and the newly restarted kid activities each evening.
Q. There are certain industries that benefited from millions of people suddenly spending 24/7 at home (Zoom, grocery stories, DoorDash). Anecdotally we hear so many stories of people fixing up their homes, adding new decks, turning the basement into office space or classrooms for their children.  It would be great to know a local company with deep roots in Cleveland saw a boost to their bottom line, is this the case for Sherwin-Williams?
A. I’ll start by saying Sherwin-Williams did an excellent job of balancing the health and safety of its employees and clients and the needs of its customers. All you have to do is look at the increase in our stock price from March thru today to see the evidence of how well our company has managed during the pandemic. I’m very proud to be part of the Sherwin-Williams family.
Q.  Out of all the neighborhoods you considered, are you happy with your choice to settle in Chagrin Falls?
A. We have fallen in love with Chagrin Falls. Everyone waves, smiles, and genuinely cares for neighbors. I have met so many people just walking through town. Plus, our neighbors are great and have lots of kids our children’s age. Which is huge! We also began to really love everything about our house, primarily our front porch which was not even a selling point when we bought our home but we are so glad we have one. We often sit on the front porch or on the porch swing after dinner to unwind, play competitive Scrabble with the kids, wave and talk to neighbors walking by. We use the back patio with fireplace to entertain neighbors and lure them with s’mores night! Thank you to Executive Arrangements for ensuring our family found the best town for us, doctors, restaurants, and places for the kids to continue their sports and dance activities. We could not have gotten so settled so quickly without you, and more specifically Peg Furnas.
To learn more about how Executive Arrangements can help your organization woo, educate, connect and acclimate senior level talent to NE Ohio, call us at 216.231.9311. What we do is needed now more than ever given the disconnection many new to Cleveland/Akron transplants feel during a global pandemic.