Friday 15 May 2020

Look, Learn and Stay Positive

Look, Learn and Stay Positive

April 8, 2020

Managing Director Richard Coe participated in the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) Instagram Live series “The Production Sector Speaks” on April 8, 2020.

Manufacturers of construction items for building improvement and also hair and skin care products, Orion Manufacturing Services, better known under its Fleetwood Jamaica brand, had its origins 50 years ago in Jamaica. It has a complement of about 50 employees producing a wide range of items. Painting and building improvement items under the Fleetwood Jamaica brand; and under Orion Manufacturing, Revlon products under license and its own beauty products under the Zimii brand.

Coe said that there is mandatory work-from-home where possible and extensive health procedures at the workplace. Membership in the JMEA has been rewarding as businesses share information with each other and additional ways to protect people and production are finding their way into offices and the plant floor. At the core, Coe said that the company is in constant communication with staff about matters that affect them, and they have also found ways to demonstrate appreciation for their workers.

Among the actions was updating the company’s life insurance plan for staff, doubling the benefit should a staff member die.

To maintain a positive environment in the workplace, Coe said that the company gave each member of staff an emergency food package of non-perishable items. This helped to give peace of mind as there were concerns that the government could have called for a total lock down of the country as a way to slow down the progress of the disease in the population.

Aside from sanitization, customers who come in to pay and collect are time logged in a register. Staff who make deliveries also put the time of their visits in a register. These registers will provide an additional data point, should any member of the company’s staff or stakeholders fall ill and persons need to be traced.

Each person who comes into the workplace, clients, contractors and workers, have to hand sanitize and are checked for visible health. Supervisors are required to check with staff on how they are feeling in addition to how they appear physically. Anyone not demonstrating health is set home.

The company already had previously invested in Remote Desktop software, the pandemic, Coe said, has compelled more team members to become more efficient in using the software.

Critically reviewing their business processes, Coe said they found ways to improve business efficiencies and cut costs in some areas of the operations. Among these are: moving the ordering process online, managing inventory and orders carefully to ensure that as much of the raw materials can become finished products on time to fill orders. This is also important in the case of a complete lockdown, so that they have product for sale and not raw materials when the market opens again.

China had been the preferred source for raw materials largely due to the lower costs, but since the pandemic, order lead times have gotten longer. Coe said that this pushed the company to look around for options and they have found suitable alternatives outside of China. On the buyers side, he said that companies that would normally be reliant on overseas suppliers are looking to local manufacturers like Orion for the same reason, and they have already responded to that demand.

Crediting the JMEA for helping to keep production going in the country, Coe said that the association successfully lobbied government to allow distilleries to sell ethyl alcohol on the local market at a time when there is great overseas demand for the product. A supply of ethyl alcohol will keep production lines open in the chemicals sector. Orion has itself responded to the market demand for sanitizers and has launched its own brand. As a result, their production lines are full as demand for the sanitizers is high.

Coe believes that staying positive and reducing negative influences will help businesses to succeed. The company wants to be a part of the national resilience and will be donating 5% of the value of the sales of sanitizers as product to the National Health Fund. He noted that things will become more challenging, but it will not help to have a negative outlook.

His final word to manufacturers was to join the JMEA and also make contact with other manufacturers for guidance on finding solutions. Look for other companies which are stronger than you that are looking to diversity their product offering, and get involved with them.



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