Pivoting during lockdown and planning for the future
On 26 March 2020 South Africa went into lockdown for an initial three week period, and much like many other countries, has still not returned to full operation.
The economic impact has been well documented, and the pandemic has affected every type of business, however, the manufacturing industry, events industry and tourism were some of the hardest hit, especially since lockdown was extended for the rest of 2020 and today still, is in effect.
In fact, the events industry and tourism remain highly impacted as neither have returned to anything close to normal operation.
Manufacturing, depending on one’s line of business, did return last year and like many others, Dimensions Tents & Structures pivoted their business to sustain jobs and keep food on the table for employees.
Making a plan – it’s the South African way
Traveling South Africans have a good reputation around the world for being resourceful and hard workers. South Africa is not an easy country to grow up and live in, so resilience becomes a part of our fabric as individuals.
When lockdown occurred, Dimensions was faced with the challenge of sustaining its manufacturing business and looking after its 60+ employees, the bulk of which are factory workers.
Rather than buckle to the immense pressure of an uncertain future, the team go to work and making contingency plans.
Once we realised that the initial three week lockdown period would be extended management acted decisively to secure support from SAFE in the form of food packs which assisted our staff in putting food on the table.
SAFE is a non-profit initiative that was established to raise relief funds for South Africa’s entertainment, events and festival community.
Dimensions also used its facilities as temporary shelter to offer relief during the initial hard lockdown Level 5, when the country had come to a complete standstill.
After successfully applying for an essential services permit during the hard lockdown, the decision was taken to temporarily pivot the business and use the factory to manufacture masks which were anticipated to be in high demand, short term.
Starting with a small team of 5 during lockdown Level 5, a series of prototype masks were made to establish costings and usability.
Within 3 weeks of creating our prototypes we had orders of 2,000 masks per week and a team of 16 staff were able to earn a basic wage in exchange for the service.
Dimensions serviced industries on a large scale by supplying masks to farming communities, factories and even sectors of the military.
The most challenging single job was to supply 25,000 masks to the Education Department with a lead time of just one week.
In total we manufactured 40,000 masks and were able to sustain employment for a smaller team of factory workers during this time.
Slowly business started to return during 2020 although the knock-on effect of COVID-related issues such as short supply of manufacturing materials, limited airfreight for our exports as well as major delays on sea freight, due to congestion, have all contributed to a challenging time.
The Future is now…
Manufacturing masks and using the Dimensions’ facilities to offer aid where we could during hard lockdown were important for the welfare of our staff and to sustain a functioning business.
But we also used the time to develop products with a new and extremely exciting fabric range, a full suite of Glamping tent options and some other exciting designs which we cannot wait to share with you soon.
The global pandemic in 2020, and indeed 2021 still, has been a testing time for everyone, globally, but slowly business has started to normalise and the Dimensions’ factory is once again back to full operation and a full order cycle ahead.
We are excited about the future and have used the last 14 months to improve our products and overall business operations. We hope all those in our industry are feeling positive as we move forward.
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