Mentally, I am going to file the last six months as ‘the hardest time of my professional career’. Even our flood, which was pretty catastrophic, doesn’t compare to this.
We closed our production for the whole of April but kept the admin side of the business open to make sure the financial side of the business remained operational. We needed to make sure money owed to us and of course the money we owed, continued to flow.
April was a time of spreadsheets for me. Plotting every financial scenario I could think of and making sure the numbers kept adding up in our favour. It was not a good time and seemed to go on forever.
We made the decision to re-open the production in a limited way and with a skeleton staff at the beginning of May. The work started to come back in and because there were so few of us, we got our families involved and worked evenings and weekends to keep the work going out on time.
I distinctly remember a snap-shot when we were working one evening, it was about ten o’clock at night, my son was packing ACM Signage, Wayne’s two sons were building roller banners and his eleven year old daughter was running one of our Zunds with his wife.
During the day from to May to August, myself and Wayne dealt with all the enquires, quotes and job processing on the phones and via email and I can only apologise to all of our customers who had to deal with us rather than our superb customer service team who were on furlough at the time. It had been a long time since we had done that job, but we winged it and I think we got away with it.
Now in October, absolutely nothing is back to normal unfortunately. We’ve had to lose a small number of staff to redundancy, our turnover is down some forty percent and our two FabriVU textile printers are looking like enormous paperweights because that part of the business has taken the biggest hit. And that won’t change until they start opening up exhibitions and events again.
Thank goodness for banners, Foamex and floor vinyl.
I am very sad at where the whole country finds itself but I am not disheartened—we’re all well here and the business is solvent without having to be propped up by Government loans. I do get the feeling we’re in this for the long haul and that next year is going to be, in inverted comas, interesting.
So right now, with previously-furloughed staff back in the business, I am looking forward to slowing down a little and then, I fear, in 2021: ‘The hardest time in my professional career – The Sequel’