Promo Businesses Ready Operations For Likely Coronavirus Disruptions
COVID-19 is shaping up to have a significant impact on modern life and business over the next few months as people and organizations take steps to slow the disease’s spread. Major events like SXSW and the Coachella Music Festival have either cancelled or postponed their 2020 runs; the NBA, MLS and NHL have suspended their seasons while MLB has suspended spring training; universities are moving to virtual classrooms and several films are rescheduling their debuts for later in the year, among other disruptions in response to the outbreak. Many companies and professionals in the promotional products industry are putting their own plans in place to respond to any effects the pandemic and its containment may have on their operations.
Tustin, California-headquartered supplier Logomark announced Wednesday new precautionary measures designed to protect its employees and customers. Beginning March 16, all outside sales employees and management will be working remotely from their home offices and temporarily suspending all in-person office meetings or events through the end of April. Earlier in February, Logomark suspended all travel to China and announced that their staff in China would work from home.
“Our No. 1 priority is the safety, health and well-being of our staff and clients,” says CEO Trevor Gnesin. “Daily operations will not be affected by this change.”
Logomark has also increased precautionary measures at its headquarters, installing additional hand sanitizers throughout the building, sanitizing high-traffic areas and surfaces multiple times per day, and has suspended any factory tours until further notice.
“We appreciate your continued support, and we will continue to work closely with public and private medical experts to ensure we are taking the right precautions as the situation continues to evolve,” Gnesin adds.
Nichole Stella, CEO of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania distributor AIM Smarter, LLC, has prepared her team of about 50 to work at home if that becomes necessary. “Because remote work is becoming so prevalent in today’s workforce, every team member was equipped with a laptop upon hire. We also recently sent a tech survey out to all employees to make sure each person has access to high-speed internet along with any other home office tools they may need. Because of this proactive stance, if a situation arises that the building is shut down for a couple of days or the government [requests people] to stay at home, we can all continue to function and get the job done. It’s business as usual.”
She says the company’s team in the UK is equally prepared. And all the company’s tools are cloud-based so that makes it much easier to access what they need from any location. “We want to make sure everybody is equipped, comfortable and knowledgeable, because knowledge is power,” she says.
The company has now implemented a discretionary policy on essential business travel. “We want to consistently assess and ensure the health and safety of all of our employees, distributors and supplier partners. As the situation is fluid, we are watching this and making updates as needed,” she says, adding that “videoconferencing and other technology tools can be used to make sure we have continuity in our communications.”
“As this situation is unchartered, we are keeping in constant communication with staff, our distributors and our supplier partners, so they are confident we are managing the situation as changes arise,” Stella adds. “The industry has lived through 9/11, the meltdown of 2008, SARS and H1N1, and we, as an industry, have muscled through and survived. I truly believe we will do that in this instance as well.”
Preparation is proving key for industry companies adapting to COVID-19 disruptions. Chris Piper, vice president at Bend, Oregon, supplier Silipint, says, “At this time we are reviewing precautionary steps our employees will take. We have sent an email out to our employees, and we have a safety team that we established prior to the outbreak. They are familiarizing themselves with best practices. Deschutes County was just informed that we have our first case of the coronavirus and this news may direct us to elevate our safety policy at Silipint. At this time, our goal is making sure our employees are aware and educated on preventive steps to help mitigate.”
Speaking on her company’s outlook, Susan Cutting, president of supplier HI-TEX Flags & Advertising, LLC in San Antonio, Texas, says, “If necessary, staff will be able to work from home. For now, we are still meeting with clients by appointment at their businesses when requested, but most of our business is conducted by phone and online. Meanwhile, we've implemented a protocol that focuses on hand-washing, sanitizing surfaces and instructions to stay home if sick.”
Promotional products regional associations are also making adjustments in response to the coronavirus. The Promotional Marketing Association of Northern California has postponed its Spring Showcase, scheduled to take place on March 26, to a to-be-determined date in May. The Philadelphia Area Promotional Products Association has cancelled a lunch-and-learn session set for March 16, although it plans to reschedule it for a later date. Similarly, the Promotional Products Association Southwest is postponing its March 19 Suds & Duds apparel supplier show in Dallas.
Keep up with this ongoing situation and access additional resources at www.ppai.org/coronavirus-information.