As we wade through the final two months of 2020, there is much to reflect on and remember, even as most of us likely long for the start of a new year. Much of this year has reminded me of Meryl Streep’s amazing song in the latest version of Mary Poppins – about the world turning turtle. In the song, Streep’s character sings about how some days it just seems her world has flipped and turned upside down, like a turtle on its shell. And once she’s there, she doesn’t know up from down, this from that.

While much of this year has been challenging, there are some bright spots. While attending Violand Management’s Business Planning Retreat in mid-October, I was happy to hear that well more than half of their clients are up in profitability for this year, and I’ve heard the same from contractors outside that group. Restorers were clearly up for the challenge of continuing to work, full speed ahead, throughout a pandemic.

For me, this issue is a big highlight of my year. We launched The Ladder Award in early 2020 to start celebrating and recognizing rising young stars in the restoration industry. The results were beyond what I imagined. We had dozens of heartfelt nominations of some very worthy young restorers.

The winner, Nicole Humber, is truly inspiring with her grit and pure determination to be the best possible owner and leader she can be. Her journey into ownership is a bit unique, as is her ability to be self-aware and continuous pursuit of growth and knowledge. You can read her story, and meet the other finalists, on page 8. Plus, visit for a link to watch a panel discussion among four of the top five finalists.

Congratulations to all!