Bill Board: Daniel, it’s been a few weeks since we last spoke and all hell has seem to have broken loose in the world with this damn COVID-19 or coronavirus. I am going say one or two words and if you would, please tell me what comes to mind.
BB: Business as usual?
Daniel Hooper: Yes, we are cautiously optimistic. The critical thing is maintaining service for our digital billboard clients. We have nearly 3,000 digital displays that we monitor and dispatch service on. Because our helpdesk is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, we developed a service software and companion app that allows both our techs and helpdesk to work remote without interruption, to the service and support we provide our customers, even on holidays. While this is a very uncertain time for many businesses and organizations, we are in a fortunate position of being able to easily adapt to the chaos.
BB: Selling Signs?
DH: Surprisingly, sales of digital products have not dropped off. When our clients have permits, they are typically ready to build and the feedback we have received from most clients so far, is that this may be shorter term that originally expected. When restaurants and businesses open again next month, they will need outdoor advertising more than ever. We have seen a slowdown of new orders for traditional hardware; however we have seen a large number of smaller outdoor operators using this time to close down for a week or two.
DH: Formetco does a great job of supply chain management. Many of the global factories are back up and running at 75%. The good news is that their domestic demand is down, which leaves an abundance of production for the US market.
DH: Based on the continuing spread of the virus and guidance from our health advisor, we asked that all employees to work remotely when at all possible. For those situations that require being present at the office, employees are coordinating with their managers in an effort to keep the head count to a minimum at any given time. Effective Monday, March 16 through Monday, April 6th we asked those that are able to work remotely to do so. This date could be extended, or shortened, based on how the situation evolves. As a manufacturer we cannot stop production, but we can take steps to protect the health of the staff working daily.
BB: Actions Formetco is taking?
DH: Effective March 16th through April 6th we suspended all customer and supplier plant tours. All doors remain locked 24 hours a day and all unannounced visitors are being turned away.
BB: Employee morale and attitudes?
DH: The telecommuting group is excited about eliminating the Atlanta traffic from their life for a few weeks. Our daily staff is echoing that excitement because traffic is almost nonexistent While we cannot stop production, we are catering in lunches, in an effort to show how much we appreciate the commitment of those employees that are there day in and day out.
Formetco management is monitoring the situation daily, and considering guidance from the CDC, public health agencies and state officials. We will adapt our protocols as necessary and keep everyone apprised of any updates and changes. We remain focused on the safety of our staff, serving our clients and being transparent during this public health threat.