In this series, ActionCOACH Mary Ann Hauser (MAH) and team virtually sit down with business owners to learn how they are working through COVID-19. Check out their inspiring stories for tips on how to cope with and successfully recover from this pandemic as well as ideas on how to avoid making common mistakes. And be sure to look at special offers from these businesses – we can all use a little extra help right now!
BKN: Tell me a little bit about the history of your company:
JN: I started this business a lifetime ago. 62 years ago to be exact. After serving in the Army, I went to work for Draper Corp in Massachusetts for 5 years, traveling in the USA and Canada selling for them. In my work for Draper, I saw an opportunity to manufacture replacement parts for weaving looms and decided to start my own business. We began with a small manufacturing facility and grew to be the “Napa” of textile industry parts for machinery. We improved parts and found access to hard to locate parts, and bought some of the business we found who did these things. We created an exhaust / filtration system for restaurants and got off the ground with Outback Steakhouse – just as they were growing and expanding. We work with a lot of the big restaurant chains. Then, we got into clean air exhaust systems for operating rooms. Hip replacement was just beginning and the surgeons in the UK were struggling with patients getting infections. We traveled there, formed an alliance with the company doing clean air exhaust systems for hospitals and got a license to make them in the USA. We have a metal fabrication company and do a lot of fabrication work in Greensboro. We created dock posts for marinas providing electric and water for boats docking, looks like a parking meter. With textiles going overseas, we made some further extensions in the business and created attachments for machines to be able to create false twist yarn. It allows the yarn to be heated quickly, twisted and cooled. It is woven into fabric of things like ski pants to give them elasticity. We grew to a $20 million dollar company over the years.
BKN: Who would you say is your best customer?
JN: Currently, that would be hospitals and manufacturers. We have clean air exhaust systems in hospitals across the USA. We service the systems, making the replacement parts for repairs.
BKN: How has Covid-19 affected your business?
JN: It has had a terrible impact on our business. Our sales are down 30%
BKN: What are some actions you had to take due to Covid?
JN: We were put in a position to have to cut back the workforce. There were challenges with getting things built, the people involved were home due to Covid and not able to get work completed so finish production.
BNK: What is the biggest learning you would share with an entrepreneur starting out now?
JN: Look at what is changing in all areas. Look ahead to the future to what is going to be needed. Manufacturing is still a good business. Look ahead at machines and tools needed – there are lots of opportunities as these things are drastically changing, and always changing. Get smart in seeing opportunities and taking them.
BKN: Final question, what is most inspiring to you?
JN: See our team learning and growing, being successful. Seeing them and their families doing well. Watching a new generation come through and seeing their potential and watching them as they train for new things.