Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 27

"But we are certainly concerned about
the long-term implications of this pandemic
and are taking steps to ensure that we will
be able to keep our business operating and
liquid," she says. This includes making cuts
to reduced overall expenses and working
with the bank and taking advantage of local,
state and national resources available to
small businesses.
Kevin Sandefur, production manager
at Awning Works Inc. in Clearwater, Fla.,
takes the perspective that businesses that
have survived for decades do so because of
their ability to adapt and overcome.
"The people that are strong, engaged
and teachable will adapt and survive.
Business will return; it will be profitable
but it will be different-we better make
it different," he says. "I foresee personal
hygiene SOPs, environment processes
and personnel guidelines changing
for the better."
An issue on the minds of many
manufacturers are the larger lessons to be
learned from the pandemic-especially
about how to make domestic PPE supply
chains, critical health care needs and the
pharmaceuticals pipeline more reliable and
less dependent on foreign suppliers.
Jonathan Palmer, CEO of cutting
equipment supplier Autometrix Inc., says
that once people have a sense of confidence
that COVID-19 is under control, we'll
start to see how quickly consumer
spending bounces back and if government
programs to sustain it have worked. "I do
think that there's going to be a lot of new
energy in the conversation about keeping
manufacturing local-whether that's
local to us here in the U.S, or local to our
customers in Europe, Asia, wherever," he
says. "Everyone's been exposed to how
fragile a global 'just in time' supply chain
can really be."
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Tents: "Survival is success"

erhaps no other IFAI market took on more immediate damage than
members of the Tent Rental Division (TRD). Tent rental companies that
were gearing up for a robust spring season, and those whose season
was already underway, spent the month of March scrambling to adjust as
the pandemic forced cancellations and postponements of all types of tented
events. Face masks joined hard hats and safety vests as required PPE on tent
installation sites as companies pivoted from weddings and festivals to temporary
hospitals and drive-through testing shelters.
As cancellations mounted, one of the biggest struggles rental businesses
faced was the decision to lay off employees. In a video conference for company
owners hosted by tent washing machine manufacturer Teeco Solutions in
mid-March, one owner related the pain of telling employees that they were
out of a job, while others said they were putting off that step, even though it
was costing them money.
"To me, that's where the rubber meets the road," says Teeco's Steve Arendt, CEO
and founder of the Kirkwood, Mo.-based company. "That was a heartfelt moment."
In a video conference focusing on cash strategies hosted by Pennsylvaniabased tent installation tool supplier Tent OX, rental business consultant Gary
Stansberry of the Stansberry Firm LLC, Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, said that in
2020, "survival is success" for tent rental companies.
Video conferences are just one way that competitors joined together. Rental
companies have shared photos of hospital installations and CAD diagrams of
drive-throughs to help other companies advertise their capabilities. New industry
Facebook groups popped up. Ten U.S. tent and structure manufacturers banded
together to connect customers with official emergency channels such as the Office
of the Vice President and Republican and Democratic governors' associations.
For tent rental companies that were able to land contracts to install tents for
medical testing sites, an issue when the crisis is over will be how to properly
clean the vinyl and frames, says Michael Tharpe, national sales manager for
Rainier Tent and TRD steering committee chair. "Can I put it back in my rental
fleet or do I have to destroy it?" he says. "What is the cleaning process? How do
I make it safe for my own employees and customers if I want to rent it again?"
With some tent rental companies closing at least temporarily, the balance
of supply and demand when the crisis is over will pose another challenge,
Tharpe says. Companies are looking closely at federal economic relief options
and their workforce.
"Tent rental people are going to look at their employees, how much they
contribute to them, how valuable they are to the company, and they are going to
make wise use of the money they have available before they make investments
in anything."
Tharpe expects that lessons from this moment will change the way tent renters
and manufacturers do business. The best-case scenario for the industry will
be that, when the crisis is over, the general public will want to come together
in groups more than ever.
"People will realize we've been through something that we have never seen
before," he says. "How do we celebrate this? Should we gather together and
just mix with one another, renew friendships, renew contacts, making this a
positive achievement? We came through this! Let's celebrate! Let's do things
differently so that we don't have to go through this again."

4/19/20 9:40 PM


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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020

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