Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021 - 24

alifornia was the first U.S. state to issue a statewide stay-at-home order
because of the spreading pandemic, and with that decision, Jonathan
Palmer, CEO of Grass Valley, Calif.-based Autometrix Inc., became one of
many business leaders navigating a company through uncharted waters.
" We had several customers who were waiting for us to deliver machines
and they were in essential business lines-emergency medical tents, etc.-so
we worked to stay open and continue to do what we do, " recalls Palmer, whose
company designs and manufactures cutting solutions for the textile and composite
industries, along with developing patterning software for these machines. " But for
at least a month I would joke that I had never been so busy not making money. "
Then, just as the company was prepping for a significant slowdown, business
unexpectedly picked up, becoming " very strong " for the remainder of 2020, he says.
One of the first moves Palmer made when COVID-19 hit was letting customers
know the business was still open. Then, as many IFAI members pivoted to making
personal protective equipment (PPE), Autometrix started collecting patterns from
companies willing to share, distributing these to other companies and coming up
with and sharing its own. As interest in new equipment bounced back, the company
delved into virtual demos- " A learning curve for everyone, " Palmer says-enabling
Autometrix to reach potential customers worldwide and keep sales going.
Palmer's company has fared
relatively well, but his experience is
hardly universal. Some segments of the
specialty fabrics industry have been
damaged by the pandemic more than
others, and much is still uncertain.
What has become obvious is that
flexibility and strategic thinking are
key attributes of companies that are
successfully finding a path through
and beyond the pandemic.

Cooley employees Chuckie Sirypannho and Freddy Vadelamar are shown preparing one of the
company's customized products for shipping. Cooley develops and manufactures sustainable,
high-performance engineered geomembranes for multiple industries. During the pandemic,
the company remained fully operational while following social distancing protocols and mask
wearing. Photo: Cooley Group.

22 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / March 2021

SURVIVAL STRATEGIES
For event tent manufacturer Aztec
Tents of Torrance, Calif., restrictions
on public gatherings led to " massive
amounts of order cancellations "
from customers, according to Aztec
president Alex Kouzmanoff.
In response, the company began
building some " tangential " PPE



Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021

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Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021 - 2
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