When millions of people found themselves out of work in March due to the national lockdown and introduction of the government’s Job Retention Scheme, many companies found themselves scratching their heads and wondering what would happen next. But it wasn’t bad news for everyone… Small businesses looked at ways of growing and adapting their usual working methods to allow for new restrictions and working circumstances.
One company that has found ways to flourish in uncertain circumstances is Spring (Europe). Based in East Sussex, electronic designer Phil Napper founded the company in 2004. Originally, it was known as Crow Electro and had humble beginnings in little more than a shed; selling their labour to other companies who hired them to build electrical parts. Over time, the company grew and took on larger premises. Eventually moving away from building other people’s designs and producing their own work. Currently, they produce items for a wide variety of industries including security, audio components and window cleaning. The vast majority of production is done in-house which sets them apart from their competitors.
How did the company tackle the Coronavirus pandemic?
By the time that the national lockdown happened in March, Spring was a thriving business and employed 17 multi-skilled staff. Initially, Phil says that he thought the whole company would need to shut down. After clarification from the government about which industries were allowed to carry on, the decision was made to furlough some staff and keep business going with the remaining employees.
Through March and April, there was a drop in all areas, with business down by almost a third at one stage. But, by May things had started to pick up again with even admin staff switching their desks for a spot in the workshop and helping the remaining workforce. Thankfully, there were no issues with supply. Phil says that being in the electronics industry it’s not unusual to have to change suppliers when technology or demand changes, so they always have a list of alternatives which they were able to utilise to ensure a constant supply of components.
When the business started to pick up again in May, initially it was only in one area which meant that the decision had to be made to bring back only a few staff and leave the rest on furlough. Gradually, as business picked up further, it allowed all employees to come back. Even though some areas are still quieter than they would usually be, having multi-skilled staff has meant that staff have been able to be moved from one area to another.
When asked about their success through lockdown, Phil puts it down to a variety of factors. Firstly, he says that he feels that they have been “very lucky” to be in the right place at the right time. He speaks very positively of his incredibly hard-working team who have all done their bit to keep things going over the last 6 months, in some cases learning new skills and adapting to changes in their usual workload. Another important factor is the wide variety of products that Spring (Europe) offer, meaning that where some areas might have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, others have grown exponentially with some employees saying that they have never known business to be this busy.
So, what next for Spring (Europe)?
Phil is very positive when talking about what comes next for the company. They have recently launched a new V16 pump controller which is an updated and upgraded version of previous models. The pump controllers are primarily used by window cleaners, although Phil says that some have been adapted for use by companies so that they can use disinfectant for deep cleaning. There are plans to upgrade the technology in other products and a touchscreen model should be available for testing by the end of this year and a variety of other products in the pipeline.
All in all, although 2020 has been a challenging year for Spring (Europe), the company has been able to pull together and appears to be in a strong position to face any future challenges, with lots of exciting things planned.
For further information, please visit: www.springltd.co