Amidst all the uncertainty surrounding Corona Virus, uncertainty of when it will all end, uncertainty for the future, not only for our business but of all businesses that may affect us, customers and suppliers alike, we have remained positive, adapted and pushed forward. Our foremost concerns have been with all of our staff. If we fail, we fail them and their livelihoods; their ability to pay their mortgages and look after their loved ones. Inversely, their well-being would have a direct impact on the business itself.
Fortunately, we have been lucky enough to be able to move all our administration straight to the homes of our office staff. With access to remote servers and cloud based software, we have been able to simply pick our computers up in one hand and our phones in the other and plug them in at our homes. I doubt our customers even realised that we had moved with ringing the same phone number, emailing the same addresses and receiving the usual rapid response that they have become accustomed to.
However, working from home has its challenges, felt by most all over the UK and indeed the world. The isolation from friends and family as well as work mates has been a challenge for the most resilient of us. To help combat this we have endeavoured to keep communication lines between all our staff as open as possible. Often video conferencing between our technical staff and those left behind in our warehouse and workshop. Quality control by our technical guys is a vital step in our production process and with the aid of FaceTime and WhatsApp we have been able to continue this in real time with the same efficiency.
A special tribute though should be given to our warehouse and workshop guys who have had their own set of challenges. Keeping to a strict social distancing policy and following all other government guidelines, they have kept the heart of the business pumping. Turning in every day feeling the dissociation from the rest of the business and their own form of isolation, they have continued to receive shipments, produce our grab packages and despatch all orders in a timely fashion. In addition, with our continued program for expansion and growth, we moved to new larger premises just as the the Corona Virus was taking hold. Yet, against all odds, they have completed the move, stocked the shelves and documented all of our inventory with conviction and efficiency.
So, what of our customers? We have a huge number of loyal customers, some able to continue operating and some not! From the off, we have communicated with our current customers to ensure them of our support and that our doors are still open for business. Mail shots, direct mail and simply picking up the phone has proved vital to keep the wheels of the business moving. Our phones are normally ringing off their hooks but as the economy has slowed, so have our natural enquiries. We have always had a policy of outreaching to potential new customers but it has not always been easy to find the time when servicing our current customer base. During the epidemic, however, our sales guys have worked tirelessly, monitoring hits on our website, analysing our dormant customer database and trawling the internet to succeed in keeping the order books filled.
Much of our inventory is sourced from overseas and therefore has been a particular point of focus for us. Countries in lockdown, ports closed and transport infrastructures creaking under the strain from the epidemic have raised obvious concerns. Over the years, building the business, we have been careful to partner with companies that not only provide excellent quality products but also those that have excellent support networks and communication. From the first mention of Corona Virus, we contacted all of our suppliers, firstly to be sure that they were all well and safe, and then to ascertain whether they were still in a position to supply.
Our suppliers in China were still producing, great, but the goods were stuck at the docks that had been closed by the Chinese government. Eventually though, the road networks and the docks were re-opened and supplies were released
In Italy, where they have had one of the highest instances of the virus were still producing, great again, yet then we received notification that they all were shut by the order of their government. Our flails, produced by Italian company Femac had a reduction in production and completely stopped for 4 days but fortunately months before, we had made the decisions to increase our stock holding to such a level that we did not feel a lag in supply at all.
Other Suppliers in Italy including those who supply our Scanreco Radio Remote Controls and those that supply our demolition and rail grabs have been affected in a more major way with their shutdown amounting to weeks not days and to add to the delays we have had made the decision to quarantine all our imported goods for 72 hours to protect our guys on the frontline. Having said all this our customers have been understanding and more than aware, as we all are, that some delays are acceptable and have become the new normal.
So as we hear that lockdowns are beginning to ease and we start to see light at the end of the tunnel, what for Approved Hydraulics now. Well…
We are going to keep servicing our customers to the best of our ability by remaining positive, keep adapting to our surrounding and we’ll keep pushing forward!