“The only way is up” say Stairways directors
Stairways Midlands directors Karen Wood and Neil Stevens are looking to 2021 with optimism after a difficult year – but one that has seen the business bounce back in the wake of the nationwide lockdown. As with so many companies across the UK, the company was forced to shut down in April and May as the Covid pandemic took hold.
However, since the restart, and after significant investment to ensure the business is Covid-safe and complying with the guidance coming from Government, Stairways Midlands has recovered well and is fulfilling orders for a strong client base.
And management is shining the spotlight on staff professionalism and dedication for getting through the crisis and are looking forward to better things next year.
Karen said: “Our staff have been amazing. There have been – and continue to be – operational challenges. There are some labour shortages, material delays, demand surges and increased mechanical breakdown as the equipment works harder than ever after being turned off for eight weeks. You could not plan for this.
“In particular, the combination of elements had a significant impact on our staircase manufacturing division at Walsall. Once operations restarted, we had significantly higher ‘call-off’ levels than pre-lockdown, which had previously been six weeks but did go as high as nine weeks.
“Our door divisions at Southam and Welshpool resumed at more normal demand levels for a period, before they then also saw a surge in orders. This has settled into a standard pattern of staircases, which are first-fix materials and are needed before second-fix resources – door sets.
“For the business, this increased level of demand is fantastic, bearing in mind the difficult times earlier in 2020. However, we can’t fulfil orders without a dedicated, skilled and loyal workforce. Luckily we have that, and we would like to thank them all for their loyalty and support during this period.”
Looking ahead, materials are now flowing more freely, more people have been recruited to help with increased demand, and a preventive maintenance schedule has been completed to support activities.
Karen and Neil are confident the group will reach the end of December, and then financial year-end, in a positive position. While 2021 holds uncertainty on many levels, they are looking forward to starting the new year with product improvements, customer service initiatives and a few other developments, all a direct, positive result of the Coronavirus crisis.
Karen added: “I believe any crisis is a catalyst for improvements. We saw the same with the last recession – we came back stronger, fighting for market positioning and growth. The team thinks outside of the box, and we always seek to improve and develop.”
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