For many Wisconsinites, the start of the pandemic is a hazy blur.

Sometime in early March, work became an endless stream of Zoom conference calls, shopping became panic buying, and the constant flood of Covid-19 news reports gave way to health concerns and economic anxiety. The long stretch of socially-distant days blended from one into the next, making two months feel like a lifetime.

Not so for Jeremy Neren, the founder and CEO of the Madison-based white label e-commerce platform, GrocerKey. He remembers the exact day the coronavirus crisis hit home.

“It was March 13,” Neren says in a phone call. “Everything unraveled from there.”

Within the week, Neren says GrocerKey experienced a mass exodus of employees when roughly one-third of the startup’s workforce—by then, collectively monikered essential workers as they were in-store fulfillment workers—departed the company to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.

At the same time, the company saw an unprecedented amount of orders streaming into its e-commerce platform and a rapidly growing pipeline of grocer retailers scrambling to kick their digital transformation efforts into high gear.

It wasn’t the worst position to be in. As thousands of Wisconsin’s companies issued a swell of layoffs, GrocerKey embarked on a hiring spree to meet the increased demand for curbside pick-up and home delivery services, providing more than 300 new e-commerce fulfillment jobs to people in the process. Read the full story here.