Made for Trade, like most other businesses in our industry is carefully managing the way back into operation from the shut-down forced by COVID-19. It’s a fact that all of us have been adversely affected in the short term and although we predict a challenging path to get back to where we were, only time will tell what shape the future of fenestration manufacturing will take.
During the lockdown and subsequent downturn in product interest we were forced to furlough a large percentage of our workforce. A small team remained working, primarily to keep a close eye on our incoming enquiry activity, but also to plan and risk asses the changes which needed to be made in the workplace to safeguard staff when the time came to bring people back into work. When the supply chain began to come back online we were in good shape to get enough staff back in to start tackling the backlog and fulfilling all the orders affected by the shut-down.
Once we got back on top of that we started letting the industry know we were beginning to quote on all our products and recommencing fabrication, albeit at a lower capacity as space constraints and individuals circumstances need to be considered. To our surprise we have been absolutely inundated with quotation requests from our current clients and also a great deal of businesses seeking new suppliers in a changed market landscape. The initial flurry was driven by projects that had been paused or delayed, but it does seem that time spent at home, fantastic weather and possibly little use for the holiday savings means that many homeowners have been thinking about home extensions and developments.
The ongoing restrictions of social distancing and process controls do create challenges and our usual lead times are, as a result, still compromised as physically the business cannot have sufficient staff working together to deliver the numbers we usually produce. Although not yet at 100%, our recent move to a much larger premises has really helped with or ability to keep people apart and we do intend to develop strategies with seating and shift patterns to ensure these lead times come back in line to our normal service, whilst of course doing all we can to protect our employees.
Clients and customers on the whole are being very understanding and appreciate that we are delivering as soon as we possibly can under the current restrictions.
Product development is one area of the business which has continued “as usual” and our continued investment in engineering and innovation within the industry will keep MFT delivering the best products, with the best service, at the best prices – despite the market challenges we face.