Louise O’Brien – Managing Director

We started the year with a 3 year growth plan, new marketing strategy and recruitment so excitement all round. Then in March it suddenly hit that things were going to change. Initially after the announcement my first thoughts were ‘don’t panic think this through’. After watching our customers begin to close and hold/cancel orders I gathered the team together, Sales, Purchasing, Operations & Accounts. Together we identified customers were closing those who would need us. The team went to action to delay orders and Accounts created cash flow forecasts, HR dealt with the vulnerable staff and implementation of safe working practises within the site.

With sales reducing immediately by 50% my message to the team was that we will work hard to keep afloat and not make redundances but use the furlough scheme if necessary so no need to worry. My directive also was that due to us supplying the medical, food, plastics and print industry we were needed and it may be that we just become a service and not make any profit. With directives from ‘Fefco’ encouraging us to keep going as corrugated is vital for the supply of food and medical supplies we kept our faith.

I believe this has tested everyone to the limit but from this we have grown, we value our customers and suppliers even more and I believe relationships have become stronger. Our team were great and pulled together carrying out maintenance work and cleaning toilets etc! We managed our work daily and were constantly in discussions and forward planning. At no time did we want to make redundancies as we have built a great team, fortunately our work suddenly started to grow again in June and the teams were back making boxes.

I have gained extra support through support peer groups and carried our an Open University Business course to help us move on after the pandemic. Sharing ideas and problems has been a great support for me personally and kept my positive approach. These new relationships will carry on which is great.

Our growth plans and recruitment are back in place and we have since recruited 4 new staff members throughout the pandemic so we are looking forward to the future. Although our sales are not back to the pre COVID levels we are still doing well and plans for development are still going ahead. The teams attitude in all departments has been great and they have been part of our survival. Communication, teamwork and keeping positive has been my strategy and I believe the team have all bought into this. The level of skills developed by everyone through this has set us up for the future, it has really put us to the test. We have become more efficient, focused and driven to succeed.

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