Twinfix is a family run business that has been designing and manufacturing Roof Glazing and Canopies from their premises on Birchwood Park for the past 30 years.
As a pioneer in roof glazing development, the business operates across a variety of sectors including education, leisure, retail and rail. Since the company was founded over 30 years ago, the business has experienced significant growth, expanding from a team of three to now 50 staff.
Here, Director Vicky Evans provides insight into how Twinfix responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and offers her advice to businesses looking to thrive in a post-lockdown world.
What was the impact of COVID-19 on the business?
In construction, everyone worked throughout the pandemic which brought about its own problems. In March 2020, we closed for a short period, as did a few manufacturers, just to take stock of the situation and make sure our manufacturing premises were as safe as possible. We then reopened after putting various Covid measures in place. It was really difficult to adapt to a situation where no one knew the answers. However, I think it’s made us stronger. The feeling among staff is that if we can survive last year, we can survive anything.
I think for us at Twinfix it was a really careful balance to make sure the business survived, but also to keep people safe. We’re a family business and a lot of people that are employed with us we’ve known for years. It did strike really hard on me, my sister (Sarah Kench, Director at Twinfix) and fellow Directors Dan and Paul how personally responsible we felt for those people. I think we did a good job and did what we could with the situation. We actually had an okay year last year given the circumstances, then this year we’ve been able to return to normal.
What hurdles have you experienced during this time?
We had to make substantial investments to keep our premises Covid-secure. We put sanitiser stations across the whole business, managing to source anti-bacterial products despite them being in short supply. When everyone was first adjusting to social distancing, we found the use of visual aids stating ‘stay 2m apart’ and ‘sanitise your hands’ a helpful reminder. We also bought a time and attendance system that takes a temperature reading as you come in the building. If an employee has a high temperature, they are not able to come inside the building and have return home to take a Covid test which keeps the offices and warehouses safe.
Staying Covid secure has also been a logistical challenge. We did split shifts so we didn’t have as many people in certain areas of the business. We made sure our installation team split into different vehicles when travelling. We restricted certain movements across the country and we tried to manage customer expectations saying we were unable to do certain things. This of course had cost implications, but it was a cost we were prepared to pay to keep staff safe.
Will you be returning to your pre-COVID way of working or keeping some or all of the changes made?
The offices are open and we’ve got most people back in the offices now which is nice to see. Our operational team in the office is linked to the outside warehouse so it is not feasible to work remotely.
However, it has helped us move forward as a business allowing us to automate and digitalise, getting rid of manual processes where possible. It’s also helped with time efficiency, where historically we would have had to go physically to weekly meetings, we now do them on Teams which is brilliant.
I think there has been a number of benefits looking at the flexibility of working in different places. It’s supported homeworking a bit more while also highlighting the benefits of actually being in the offices so we will be keeping some changes.
How have you built resilience during these challenging times?
We’ve stayed resilient through acknowledging that we don’t know all the answers. We’ve learnt how to adapt and how not to panic too much. As a management team, it has taught us that we can make decisions, we can help and protect people and we can keep the business going through challenging times.
Has being located on Birchwood Park provided any particular benefits for your business?
I think the Park is brilliant – I like everything the team do and I think they’ve supported businesses really well coming back. They’ve followed government advice to the T, with all the measures in place in all communal areas. Now restrictions are lifting, they’re trying to get an atmosphere back – for example they’ve recently run an outdoor street event which was great for occupiers to get involved in.
Are you proud to be located in the North/North West?
I am – I’ve always loved the North, the North West in particular. You’ve got some great cities – Liverpool, Manchester and Chester that are brilliant to visit and have got loads going on. Also, if you need, you can be in London within 2 hours.
Are you hopeful for the future of your business/industry/region?
I am hopeful for the future of the business; it is busy and I think Covid has pushed us forward with some of the changes we wanted to make in terms of digitalisation. I think for the region it might take a while to recover but I’m still optimistic. I think there’s a lot of good things happening in the North such as HS2 and the Northern powerhouse. There’s a lot of investment being put into the North which is only going to be beneficial in the long run.
What advice would you give to other businesses looking to hit the ground running and bounce-back post pandemic?
Stay balanced, stay focused and keep caring so caring about people. I think the pandemic is going to affect us all for years to come in different ways so I think it’s important to keep supporting people.