March 2020 changed our lives forever. That’s when the federal government and, shortly thereafter, individual states throughout the country, started to react to the quickly spreading communicable virus we now call COVID-19. Countless press briefings and ever-evolving measures were put into place to help slow the spread. During the third week of March, based on state-ordered mandates, PSA shut down operations in both its California headquarters and New Jersey office. No one was clear on the length of time it would take to reopen or the potential havoc the virus might wreak on the nation as well as the world.
A fair share of uncertainty followed, but PSA had a plan and put it into motion. Its personnel immediately started working from home, thanks to the IT team’s strategic implementation of literally hundreds of co-workers. PSA temporarily requested that customers not submit any more packages with items for authenticating and grading until after March 31, 2020. In April, adhering to the guidelines proposed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that included wearing protective masks, practicing social distancing and frequently using hand sanitizer and washing one’s hands, PSA slowly began bringing back a limited number of staffers to its California facility to help with the building backlog as well as to receive and process incoming orders.
With the influx of orders, some reconfiguration within the building needed to take place to facilitate the process. It was a vital measure in order to keep staffers in compliance with social distancing requirements. PSA even brought on a full-time nurse who continues to check everyone’s temperature upon arrival before entering the building. If anyone has a fever or shows signs of a cough or respiratory issue, they are sent home until their health improves.
“The safety, health and well-being of our employees is of paramount importance to us,” said PSA President Steve Sloan. “We continue to spread our operation out to the fullest extent. We are trying to use our footprint as effectively as possible in order to spread people out according to CDC guidelines.”
On May 18, PSA began bringing back some operations staff to its New Jersey office as well, again practicing CDC guidelines. The Woodbridge facility is open, and personnel is currently receiving, processing and shipping both incoming orders and those that were already in-house. They are only accepting customer drop-offs and pick-ups by appointment only, so please set and confirm your appointment online between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. EDT.
Well, it’s been three months now since our normal way of living changed drastically. Incredibly, despite the economic woes, the hobby has flourished. With collectors working from home with more time on their hands to peruse their cards and collections, submissions to PSA continue to arrive at a record pace. That’s a testament to the comfort the hobby provides to people, even during a pandemic.
In fact, just as a barometer check, PSA has seen a huge upswing in completed online submission orders, which were up 188% in May from our previous monthly high this year. To help with the ever-growing number of submissions, PSA has hired 45 new employees since the start of April, many of them landing in the Receiving and Research departments. Their additions have helped immensely with getting the job done so far, but we need even more talented people to join our team. The bottom line is that we continue to be extremely busy as the hobby continues to thrive.
What’s more, PSA’s Customer Service department experienced a 167% increase in calls in just one week alone last month. We’ve also seen exponential growth in our web traffic page views (up 139% last month from the same time a year ago). Even the number of PSA Collector Club memberships being purchased has grown by 21% since the start of April. We have been incredibly blessed with both your support and patience during this difficult time and we really appreciate it. Stay safe and keep on collecting.