Making Lemonade As The World Stops

Before the Covid19 global pandemic, as Fiasco, we had been making efficient touring infrastructure for seven years and had boldly taken on the USA market as well as NZ. We had been successful in our niche both at home and in the USA beyond our own expectations by keeping things simple and thinking about everything from the end users perspective.

When Covid19 hit, being involved in crowded events was one of the worst businesses around, and it seemed reasonable to wonder about the future. Especially when within the first half of March we lost 90% of our sales. Rather than getting down we are viewing Covid19 as a season look forward to returning to our roots when the time comes.

In the meantime, we have learnt to pivot. In the ten days before lockdown, we created Screen Serve to help essential business like pharmacies protect their staff and customers. It was a helpful idea for the lockdown, but not one that would keep us going long term.

In those same ten days, we also designed a beautiful birch plywood desk. In the months since, our mission has become supplying those who now work at home, a desk that allows them to work seated or standing at the correct ergonomic height. A desk that would also pack away flat and let home be home was essential to our way of thinking. Thousands of desks are now in homes across NZ and in all fifty states of the USA.

The secret to a successful pivot? Ask yourself what your team does really well. Keep it really simple.

For us that was ergonomic functional design, machining plywood, making excellent marketing content and providing fantastic customer service. Those four things had made us be successful in the past, but our loyal customers were now laying off staff and canceling orders through no fault of their own.

There are two more things you need… a fresh idea and the relentless drive to succeed. Our idea was the desks and so we rallied and made it happen. Most of our team worked 12-16 hours a day, six days a week for months to make the pivot happen, we still are.

Our target customer changed from blue-collar workers who typically wore all black to white-collar workers who were forced to work at home, perhaps in their PJ’s?

Our sales efforts had been sale rep B2B focused with great marketing content we made ourselves, but we hadn’t sold online before. Now we have three online stores; but we still make our online content in the house.

We used to make lots of custom products; now we make two desks in a small number of colours. We had outsourced 80% of our machining and assembly to China; now we make everything in our local facilities in NZ or the USA.

Covid19 might have made us tack left, but we certainly didn’t cut the corner or lose hope. Thankfully we have even been given the opportunity to help others find work along the way, and our team has grown from 12 in March to just short of 30. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to share our story with you. Whatever mountain you are climbing, you can still get to the top. Believe in your team, be customer-focused, and understand what you do well in simple terms.

Check out our desks –

Joe Bradford
Owner & Director
4 Sep, 2020

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