Landscaping suppliers look to the new year with high hopes
After almost a year of pandemic, suppliers are now looking ahead to the new year with great hopes.
For Beth Weiland of Liberty Landscape Supply in Fernandina Beach and Jacksonville, Florida, security measures such as plexiglass at registration stations, employees with masks and social distancing within the buildings still apply.
Weiland adds that they also put up signage to notify customers of the distancing regulations and that only six people are allowed in the lobby at a time.
During the ups and downs of Covid-19, according to Weiland, none of the three locations were forced to close or make financial cuts or layoffs, and all employees were able to report to work.
At the beginning of the pandemic, online sales grew significantly and while they are still receiving online orders, more customers are now returning to stores, according to Weiland.
For Gempler, Carl Atwell, President and Owner, says they have remained fully functional throughout the pandemic. In most cases, Atwell said, orders could be shipped the same or next day and overall there were no business interruptions.
While many companies have been forced to close their doors or make significant cuts as a result of Covid-19, they have so far been able to get away with no financial or personnel cuts related to the virus, according to Atwell.
“We firmly believe that the overall supply chain is catching up and will continue to catch up,” says Atwell. “Hopefully things will be pretty normal by the start of spring.”
Atwell says they have often emphasized to employees the importance of staying healthy and making smart decisions in their free time. Even if employees have a minor cold, they are encouraged to stay home and relax. Atwell says they were lucky enough to keep everyone healthy.
Atwell said early on that the office and call center staff were remote and the distribution center stayed in the office. So far, all call center staff and non-collaborative roles have been removed, and office worker roles that are considered collaborative have been safely brought back into the office.
When things first shut down, Atwell said his staff asked him to keep it up because they wanted to keep serving customers. To ensure this, Atwell implemented the recommended security guidelines immediately and continued to work.
Weiland continues to make a point of maintaining social distance, Weiland said the company-wide summer get-together has been canceled. To make up for this, each branch celebrated its own socially distant lunch so employees can safely interact during the holidays.
“I think the morale was fine overall,” says Weiland. “Opinions about the virus differ across the board, and the staff are split on two sides. Some want to take things a lot more seriously and others just stick to the standard rules. I think morale has stayed positive since we’ve been able to work all along and haven’t suffered financially. “
Although morale may have eased slightly over the past few months, Weiland believes the pandemic has brought their branches closer together as they have all gone out of their way to help each other.
According to Weiland, the managers have worked closely to ensure they can loan materials out when a location is low.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of this series where we’ll find out what obstacles these suppliers have faced over the past year and where they want to go in 2021.