As we emerge from COVID-19 the world remains changed beyond anything we could have ever imagined. The way we conduct our lives, the way we run our households and the way we interact with each other, for now is guided by a temporary set of rules. While these new behaviours will soon become a distant memory, for businesses, COVID-19 has forced change, forever. Robin Eley, Alpha Manufacturing Commercial Director, explains the impact of COVID-19 on Alpha and the new opportunities that have emerged as a result.
“As a nation, COVID-19 has dealt a heavy blow with far-reaching consequences. Every day the business’ news points to supply chain issues and the mounting cost of raw material. Every sector remains untouched and the expression ‘we’re in this together’ has never felt more pertinent. Yet, as we come through these troubled waters, there is another side to the story that hopefully, long after the markets have stabilised, we can continue to nurture and focus on the strong sense of solidarity and cohesiveness that has emerged.
“Taking a step back. As we rolled into 2020, Alpha Manufacturing was enjoying its strongest trading year on record. With a solid investment plan in place centered around the extension of the STOPA and investment in the next TruBend cell, we were geared up for great things. Then the world changed, almost overnight, and our energies were directed towards the COVID-19 response. But what we could not have predicted was the way our customers responded. After the initial shockwaves of total lockdown, for the most part our customers turned to us for even greater help and support. Getting orders out and securing the order pipeline became the focus. We also took on new customers responding to the needs of the pandemic, designing and fabricating hand sanitiser units for a nationwide supermarket and pub chain and supporting our sister-company Bri-Stor Systems with the development of vehicle hygiene solutions. It was all hands-on deck.
“In those first few months every day was hard to predict, and the world was changing rapidly but by the late summer months, there was a significant shift in the tempo of our customer relationships. To put that in context, in the Bri-Stor Group our binding influence is ‘stronger together’ and today these two simple words are very much at the centre of our customer relationships too. As we entered 2021 it became evident that customers were turning to us to do more and take ownership of a greater number of processes within the development of their product, therefore limiting supply chain risk. Being part of a wider Group business also played a part in that decision making process for many customers. Because of our Group structure, we can make change happen with strong financial backing. And as a consequence of an increased appetite from customers for us to deliver a greater percentage of an overall finished product, we launched Alpha Integrated Solutions (AIS) – a dedicated facility for the fabrication of complete products. While this new division is in its infancy, we are already close to capacity and are looking at expanding the premises.
“AIS was always in the plan as part of our expansion. But today, while we continue to face some tough challenges, we can take comfort from the positives and if nothing else, we have forged stronger, more trusting and more resilient relationships with our customers.”