This time last year, businesses were facing operational disruptions, and in many cases, full closures. Now, one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re catching up with companies to get their thoughts on the last 12 months and outlooks on what’s to come.
In February 2020, when the world started to learn and hear more about COVID-19, JDS Industries president and CEO Scott Sletten says, “It was much more about it being an issue in China.”
During this time, he says most companies were more worried about how the COVID-19 virus would affect their supply chains due to the closure of factories and manufacturing plants in China.
“In the second half of March, it began to spread much more in the U.S. and elsewhere, and then it became a demand problem as events got canceled all over the world,” Sletten states.
According to him, late March, April, and May brought the worst of it for JDS in terms of numbers. “We had the biggest decline in demand for our products,” Sletten says. “At first, everything just stopped as businesses across the country had to shut down. Companies everywhere put purchases on hold as they went into crisis mode and wanted to save all cash that they could.”
He continues, “As May went on and into June, demand slowly returned in many areas, but still at levels much lower than 2019. The hardest-hit areas for JDS were those related to sports such as trophies and medals.”
Over the last year, JDS has made several internal and operational changes. It moved employees to remote work and rotated in-office staff. Sletten also mentions the company had to deal with employees who tested positive or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 who had to quarantine.
Despite lower demands and managing employees and operations in the wake of the virus, Sletten says JDS had no issue keeping up with customer needs and helping out where it could.
“We did see many more customers ordering online instead of calling in their orders,” and he says, “JDS did many things with charities as well, such as making and donating things like masks and hand sanitizer.”
Although there is some light at the end of the tunnel, Sletten tells GRAPHICS PRO, “Things are not fully back to normal.” The demand for sports-related products continues to be the most impacted, and PPE items like sublimatable face masks, gaiters, hand sanitizer, and acrylic sheet stock are still in supply and demand.
With all the changes and uncertainties of the year, Sletten says flexibility has been huge for the company. “We have had to change how we do some things to accommodate both customers’ and employees’ needs.”
As JDS heads into this new year and looks ahead at the next six months to a year, Sletten’s outlook is positive for the company and the industry.
“We are hoping to see things continue to improve over the next few months as vaccines roll out and people become more confident in getting back to a little more normal life,” he states. “We are hoping to see more sporting events happening in later second quarter and into third quarter. Trade shows also will be restarting, we think in this same time frame, and that will also be a good demand driver for our industry.”