How We Avoided Disaster
Proper prior planning prevents poor performance has always been the catch phrase in our organization. Supply chain resiliency is a cornerstone of our value proposition to our customers. For all the planning and testing one does, one never knows for sure if one has planned properly until crisis strikes. Such is the case with COVID-19. Because the possibility of supply chain disruption is possible for numerous reasons (weather, civil unrest, disease, war, transportation disruption, cyclical holiday events around the world etc.), we have always tried to have redundant manufacturing and systems in place that can enable us to operate under less than ideal circumstances to keep our global customer base functioning as normally as possible.
Late in 2019 we had taken the normal steps to contact our customer base to make them aware of upcoming disruptions caused by Christmas followed by Lunar New Year holidays and to make sure we had product in the pipeline for them for the upcoming year. As 2020 began and COVID-19 emerged in China as a threat, it was readily apparent from discussions with our personnel in Asia, that something was afoot that had the potential to be disruptive to trade and transportation as well as manufacturing. We immediately gathered our management team in January 2020 to discuss readiness plans. Preparations included confirming our ability to convert to a remote work configuration and network security was double checked and up to date. We broke the production and warehouse team into 3 operating groups that could be separated for quarantine purposes if needed. We communicated to all employees as the first COVID-19 cases were being reported in our area, that we would pay all employees salaried or hourly for any quarantine period required if they came into contact with or contracted COVID-19 even if that period exceeded paid time off to make sure that everyone on the team did not have a financial motive to not report contact. We upgraded and intensified our daily sanitization efforts and also purchased UV-C lamps to scan and decontaminate all incoming mail, air, and express shipments. We implemented daily temperature scans for all employees and visitors and acquired a thermal scanner to simplify scans and reduce contact. All unnecessary travel was cancelled indefinitely. We also contacted a former head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and two other local physicians to discuss our preparations to our organization and facility to see if there was anything we could be doing to make our organization less susceptible to infections. Having completed our plans and preparation by February 2020, we felt we were ready.
As the virus progressed and stay at home orders were issued, we elected to send all non-essential staff to work from home and implemented the remote work configuration we had planned for. Thankfully our plans worked as expected and most customers were completely unaware and undisrupted by the shift. We engaged with some of our key customers as well to help them prepare their organizations for the challenges ahead. Due to our foresight and planning in January of 2020, our company saw little disturbance to our business as a result of the virus. We sent our first mass customer communication on our status the first week of February. Many other organizations did not react until there was an immediate threat or a case of COVID-19 within their organization.
Although there may be a light at the end of the tunnel, we are not clear of disruptive events yet and continue to re-evaluate our preparations daily. We continue to communicate with all employees any relevant information concerning COVID-19 as it is released by various public and private organizations to ensure all team members are aware of the current status. Life goes on. We are once again faced with an extremely high infection rate nationally however we are operating with very few impediments to growth in 2021 and beyond.
Companies that will survive must improve their supply chain resiliency and figure out how to work remotely and effectively respond to disruption or they will suffer. We have continued to work on new designs and new production as well as many legacy and existing products throughout 2020. Let us be a partner and help you build your supply chain resiliency.