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Economic pain became widespread when the coronavirus pandemic shut down normal life in New York City in March. One company poised to suffer badly was Baldor Specialty Foods, a restaurant supply company that suddenly had no restaurants awaiting its deliveries.

Baldor got creative. The company launched a home delivery service that promised consumers they could “become an at-home [culinary] rock star for bringing easy-to-execute, delicious meals to your family.”

Marketing professor Bill Bergman offered Baldor’s response as one example of how innovation often flourishes during times of economic stress. As one inclined to innovation himself, Bergman quickly developed and launched a four-week, executive education minicourse during the summer to look at the economic sectors and companies that are doing well during the pandemic and why.

“The companies that are going to do the best are nimble enough to say, ‘You know what? This isn’t going to stop us. We’re going to wake up tomorrow and make this work,’” Bergman said.

For some companies, it means doubling down on an existing business line suited for the times (for example, Peloton, the home cycling company). For others, it means fresh strategies (Baldor’s approach). The ones that struggle the most are slow to do either (ahem, legacy department stores).

The course “was a fast four weeks, but it was a ton of fun,” he said. “Usually, when there’s some kind of disaster, that’s when marketing really picks up and innovation takes hold.”