This article has been featured in The Fabricator and Glass and Glazing Products
THE LOCKDOWN RELATIONSHIP TEST
Lockdown has probably proved to be the ultimate test for most relationships. For many, it has been a positive experience, reinforcing what people really like and value in their partners. For others, it has exposed divisions and deficiencies, and it’s probably no surprise that Rightmove is already reporting a 22% surge in demand for rental properties driven largely by the number of break-ups.
However, it’s not just personal relationships which have been under scrutiny. Business and commercial relationships have been tested too like never before; and winners and losers have emerged right across the supply chain amongst suppliers who were called upon to demonstrate new levels of commitment to their customers.
One supplier which considers itself a winner so far is AluK, which took the view right at the start of the crisis that it had a duty as a systems house to be there to support its customers. It imposed an initial shutdown at its factory and warehouse in line with the government advice, furloughing a large proportion of its production and warehousing team, but ensured that all of its other teams could continue working from home, focused on providing support to customers.
As part of a well-funded global group, AluK was in a strong financial position to be able to maintain this level of resource even when it was not manufacturing. But, just as importantly, it had the foresight to recognise that fabricators and installers would ultimately judge their suppliers by how they responded to the crisis.
Paul Woods, Director and General Manager at Central ASL in West Bromwich, is one of the customers to have benefited from AluK’s approach. He explained: “What was important to us was that, even in the midst of the lockdown, the team at AluK stayed closely in touch. They kept us fully informed about their plans for restarting production and we knew exactly what to expect in terms of deliveries and lead times. In turn, they listened to us about what we needed from them and showed real operational flexibility in getting product to us that we needed urgently, as soon as we were back in operation ourselves.”
He added: “We went from speaking to someone from AluK every couple of weeks before lockdown to every couple of days afterwards and that was really useful in terms of sharing market updates. We had easy access to their entire team, so could even get practical advice from their Health & Safety manager ahead of our own reopening based on their early experience of implementing safe working.”
Peter Adams, General Manager at Capital Windows, based in Uxbridge, was equally positive about AluK’s response. He said: “AluK offered us reassurance throughout. They called regularly to keep us updated and they gave us practical help to support us during the crisis and start to plan for the recovery. We used the free posters and floor stickers that they produced to help us in creating our own socially distanced production space and have accessed the brand-new Marketing Academy website for useful tips and advice on promoting our business now that we have returned to work.
“Crucially, there were no interruptions to supply of product, so we have been able to get back up and running manufacturing our BSF70 bi-folds and 58BW windows and doors quickly and easily”
Sioned Roberts, AluK’s Marketing Director, added: “Coronavirus will continue to test every business in this sector for months or even maybe years to come. Systems companies have to step up to the plate to support their customers at every level of the supply chain and be prepared to make the necessary investments in order to strengthen and secure those vital relationships. I’m proud of what AluK has done so far and we’re committed to continuing our support long into the future.”