What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
10th November 2021
The Nietzsche quote ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ has become something of a cliché, but it’s actually a pretty accurate description of how some large PVC-U trade fabricators, like Euroglaze, are emerging from the pandemic.
Those of us who are standing strong as we approach 2022 are generally those who were well financed, had made long term investments in relationships right across their supply chain and, above all, who recognised early on that their business would need to look very different at the end of the pandemic to how it looked at the start.
It was never a case for Euroglaze of just battening down the hatches and surviving. We knew that we had to be positive and proactive throughout so that we would be in the best possible position to thrive in the post-pandemic marketplace.
For us, that meant making the most of the investments we had made in IT over recent years to try to minimise the impact of the widespread supply chain problems on our customer base. We’ve harnessed our own ‘big data’ as much as possible since March 2020, analysing huge volumes of sales so that we can predict likely demand more accurately than we had done previously. In turn, we’ve instigated weekly supply update meetings with our systems supplier Rehau to try to secure sufficient stocks of profile and to make sure we know in advance what to expect from them. We’ve done something very similar with our hardware supplier Maco who we have encouraged to offer us alternatives to out of stock items whenever possible, because we have the IT skills in-house to be able to create any new routing files required for our CNC saws.
Because of the uncertainty around supply, we also now hold almost 70% more profile in stock than we did at the start of the pandemic – shifting largely from a ‘just in time’ to a ‘just in case’ approach based on our knowledge of changing purchasing patterns. We’ve obviously not been able to shield our customers completely, but the regular customer satisfaction surveys we carry out as part of our ISO quality audits suggest that we have performed much better than many of our competitors.
Our Customer Service team, who normally pride themselves on such excellence, have had an extremely difficult year, as you can imagine, but the response from our customers has been magnificently supportive – testament I hope to the efforts we have made and the way we have prioritised customer communication throughout.
Where I think Euroglaze really has taken a radically different approach to other fabricators though is to use the lockdown and the market conditions to restructure and reconfigure our entire operation, so that we are emerging from the pandemic as a bigger and more efficient operation.
In 2020, we realised that a combination of market uncertainty and the furlough scheme made it essential that we remodel the workforce on the shopfloor., optimising the manning levels and enabling us to balance our shifts and increase capacity without a significant increase in the workforce.
We have also now invested in a 500m2 factory extension and new CNC saws and machining centres. If demand remains at current levels, this will give us additional overall capacity and help us to grow still further. If it falls back to pre-pandemic levels, then it will still deliver the kind of improvements in efficiency which will make us a much more secure supplier for our customers.
We have never aimed to be the cheapest fabricator in the market – we’ve all seen during the pandemic where that ambition leads! We won’t compromise on quality or efficiency, but we’ve proven that our approach nonetheless saves our customers money. With Euroglaze, they know that their orders will be right first time, and they won’t struggle with missing items, rejects or remedials.
The pandemic has undoubtedly left a lasting impact on this industry, but it is not necessarily all negative. As we have demonstrated, it has prompted lots of positive change – from better deployment of IT, to better communication with customers and increased efficiency.
At Euroglaze, we’ve worked hard to minimise the impact of supply chain issues and to absorb as much of the increase in costs as we can. We remain committed to offering best value to our customers. With one eye on increasing capacity and the other on security should demand normalise, Euroglaze offers a stronger opportunity to its customers in the post-pandemic era.
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