In February 2020, COVID-19 was barely a household word. In fact, probably only those in the healthcare field were even talking about it. But a month later, that word would turn the world upside down.
Now that it’s September, nearly 7 months past an initial worldwide reaction, we’re still reeling from the effects of the virus that shut down most of the world, and, we’re learning to adapt to keep our business running smoothly and seamlessly.
This was uncharted territory. We hadn’t seen a global pandemic such as this one in our lifetimes. As a precautionary measure, Wisconsin’s governor executed a “Safer at Home” order, which encouraged everyone to stay home and only go out for essential activities such as doctor appointments, groceries, or gas in the car. That also meant that most of the workforce started doing their daily office jobs from home. At DSI/Dynamatic, many of our employees started working from home temporarily on March 16.
While the governor’s order was in place, we worked hard to ensure the safest measures for our employees, customers, and visitors as we instituted work-from-home flexibility, shut our doors to visitors, and left shipments untouched for 48 hours. We moved in-person meetings to phone calls and online options, we stopped in-person service calls, and we let our customers know that we remained open despite these changes.
The order was lifted in mid-June, but our operations remained far from normal. Some of our employees came back into the office for a seven-day work week, some remained at home part time. We established daily safety precautions per the recommendations of the Wisconsin Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Such measures included daily temperature checks, individual styluses for common surfaces and masks during the workday if social distancing wasn’t possible. We limited our interactions within the office spaces, particularly in those that were common, such as our kitchen and meeting rooms. Our outside sales professionals, who didn’t work from our main office, switched from regular travel to online meetings and phone calls.
We not only had a disruption in our business operations, but also in our financials. According to David Arend, CFO for Dynamatic, there was a dip in business in the second quarter of 2020 due to businesses shutting down or travel restrictions throughout the country. None of that came as a surprise.
“The second quarter of 2020 was a slow quarter for orders based on the large number of customers who were closed or running at a reduced level,” he said. “In addition, we were not traveling to service customers that needed help and they, in turn, were hesitant to allow outsiders into their facilities.”
Thankfully, the third quarter, so far, has seen an uptick in orders as businesses have reopened and have resumed a more normal level of activity, Arend said. But travel is still a concern.
“Travel restrictions have still dampened our service business, but we are working on ways to protect our employees and customers in these endeavors going forward,” he said.
According to Manufacturing Tomorrow, manufacturing was one of the hardest hit industry segments from COVID-19.
“The lockdown…brought the manufacturing facilities to a standstill, derailing the entire global supply chain,” it said. “To put things into perspective, more than 75 percent of businesses have ‘one or more direct or Tier 1 supplier,’ from China, and 938 of the Fortune 1000 companies have Tier 2 suppliers there.”
What this virus has caused us to do at DSI/Dynamatic is re-evaluate our assumptions and scenarios regularly, and to strengthen our ability to respond to anything that could change on any given day. Course correction has now become routine, which has showcased our ability to adapt.
When our supply chain was disrupted, we zigged. We investigated alternatives that would decrease our lead time between quotes and shipments.
When tradeshows became non-existent due to the restrictions on large groups, we zagged. Tradeshows went virtual, and so did we. We attended online when it made sense, and while it was more challenging to network with people, we connected as we could. We also found new ways to reach potential customers despite the challenges, which included more social media presence and connecting through personalized emails.
In a press release from One Voice, the government agency representing nearly 2,500 metalworking and related companies commended its members, “Members of the National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA) and Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) are stepping up to meet the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and leading the way in displaying the true American spirit of joining together to make a difference.” As members of the PMA, we take pride knowing that we’ve been able to adjust as needed.
The pandemic is far from over, but overall, it has proved that DSI/Dynamatic is able to adapt and change. We’ve been able to find alternative ways to function and continue to provide excellence in customer service and quality products. Ultimately, this pandemic has proven that we are only as strong as our employees, who have proven to be resilient and successful during this challenging time.