According to the Office of National Statistics, last year the UK Economy decreased by 9.9% deeply affecting certain industries in a horrendous way, with mass unemployment and furlough.
We decided to find out how a business owner was feeling, so we interviewed the owner of H & S Lifting - Andy Taylor, who runs one of the biggest manufacturers of Vacuum Lifting Equipment in the UK.
It turns out he feels both lucky and positive about the future, saying "Manufacturing is essential to the progression of businesses and we have a great reputation for helping people achieve their goals - so if other companies are of the same ilk, there is no pessimism to be had".
Here is the full interview:
1. In general how has your business been affected since the start of the pandemic until now?
During the 1st Lockdown our business grounded to a halt for 3 months so we made the decision to shut down, which didn’t come lightly and is something we’ve hardly ever done before. Thankfully, the 2nd lockdown has been more business as usual and demand has been back to its normal levels with fresh optimism. We have been particularly busy since November 2020 enquiry wise with lots of phone calls and enquiries through the website.
2. Are your workers classed as key workers?
No because our workers are staff within the manufacturing industry, unlike the construction industry which is completely essential (with building work being done within hospitals and other emergency service buildings. We still like to see ourselves as essential, even though the government has not put us into that category.
3. How have customers responded to you doing work - are they comfortable or hesitant when you're on their property?
All in all, our customers are generally comfortable with us being there, of course it helps with the fact that they have actually chosen for us to be there to provide a service, it’s not an unsolicited visit. As a rule of thumb we ensure we have full PPE equipment, hand gel, masks, gloves and maintain the 2 metre rule as per the government guidelines, which helps too.
4. What sort of physical changes have you made to your premises?
To make sure we abide by all of the correct guidelines and that any guests feel safe when visiting our premises we have installed a Covid station including masks and hand sanitiser and this includes the Track and Trace Barcode - which visitors can use to check in. We understand that not all companies are using this barcode on their premises but H & S Lifting always want to stay on the safe side.
5. Which products/services have you noticed with more demand during the pandemic?
I wish I could give a more interesting answer but it’s the same as before really! Vacuum Lifting is always at the forefront of what we do and because of how bespoke our service is, customers are happy to come back for more and more.
6. Which products/services have you noticed with less demand during the pandemic?
Same answer as above I’m afraid!
7. Since the release of the Government's roadmap, have you noticed any change in customer behaviour (e.g. more positivity)?
Since the recent update more and more customers are enquiring and we are just waiting for the quotations to be confirmed before we can organise a huge outlay of work. It’s great to know that there is an end in sight.
8. Have you introduced any new products/services since last March - or had any new potential ideas for the future?
We will be launching some new bespoke products in Summer 2021 as we want to become a One-Stop Shop for all of a potential customer's needs when it comes to Vacuum Lifting.
9. How confident are you for the industry's future?
We are very positive about the manufacturing industries future. With Health & Safety regulations our Vacuum Lifting Solutions are now a necessity in many industries and sectors, which is only a positive for us and people’s safety! Manufacturing is essential to the progression of businesses and we have a great reputation for helping people achieve their goals - so if other companies are of the same ilk, there is no pessimism to be had.
10. What have you noticed about the competition in this time - have they been more proactive or reactive?
We tend to concentrate on our own thing and don’t take too much notice of the competition.