How to pivot your existing business during COVID-19—case study with Fiasco

As the effects COVID-19 started to be felt around the world, the event industry was hammered with blanket cancellations. The flow-on effect has and is being felt by 1000’s of contractors and companies New Zealand wide.

Fiasco Cases needed to make a decision, either pivot and innovate or face closures.

Fiasco design and build road cases designed for event equipment. The physical toll of touring from city to city all over the world can be pretty brutal on road cases, but Fiasco have established a reputation for being one of the best.

Joe Bradford, head of operations, knew Fiasco’s reputation wasn’t going to be enough to make it through the government shutdowns and event cancellations.

“We are really experienced as a team in being able to redeploy resources quickly, which helped us get off to a running start.”

Pulling together the “brains trust” of himself, Matt Waterhouse (head of design), and a team of sales, engineers and manufacturing staff, they knew what needed to be done.

“We’d done a few for friends and close business partners over the years, so with a bit of design tweaking and testing, we landed on the new offering.”

Anticipating some serious demand for ‘work from home’ solutions, the team began working on potential designs as well as getting feedback from the owners of the desks they’d produced already. From concept to production it took six(6) days.

The next spanner in the works came a couple of days later

The New Zealand Government announced that the country was to go into lockdown, and all business classed as non-essential were to cease operations for 4 weeks.

Joe says they’d already been working on a plan for this eventuation, but weren’t expecting it to happen so soon.

“Having Matt work on a parallel project focusing on a product to help his sister out, was a very good idea.”

That project? Screen Serve.

Screen Serve portable screens can be used in hospitals, pharmacies or grocery stores where people might have close contact with each other.

The first service screen was installed just hours before lockdown

The first service screen was installed at Sanders Pharmacy in Te Awamutu, for Matt’s sister Gemma, just hours before the lockdown.

"We got in there after the pharmacy closed on Tuesday (March 24), and worked to install the screens before shutdown the next day. To help out we even seconded one of our own staff in there to help with the transition.”

This all sounds like smooth sailing, but there have been some major hurdles to overcome which have taken more time and effort than anticipated — some of these are still ongoing, says Joe.

“Supply has been tricky, with some suppliers open and helpful, some need the right paperwork to deliver. If it carries on, some design changes might be needed.”

The paperwork is essential services declarations required by the government for businesses to operate during the lockdown. 

Health and safety is also a major factor in any business decisions that have been made. Joe says that staff wellbeing has always been at the core of their production facility, but now it's more important than ever.

“We make sure whatever we do, we do it safely, and with minimum contact. We’re ordering what we need or what we think we’ll need for collated/aggregated deliveries to cut down outside contact and we’re obviously taking precautions in the workshop, keeping distance, cleanliness, and working on skeleton crews.”

Where does Rocketspark come into this story?

Fiasco Cases have been long time customers of ours and designed and built the very desks we’re working from.

Joe was quick to reach out to us about getting some feedback on the desks, as well as some general web advice.

Rocketspark’s Head of Design Jeremy Johnson put in some serious hours to helping the Fiasco team pull the sites together to get them live as quickly as the manufacturing team started pumping out screens and desks.

With a focus on “effective simplicity,” both the Screen Serve and Work from Home Desks reflect the design values of Rocketspark. 

Joe says that Fiasco couldn't have done what they did, had Jeremy not been able to donate his time and design skills and experience.

Joe also has some advice for businesses facing down the COVID-19 situation

“We’re all climbing a mountain, it’s up to everyone to make sure we get to the top. Sometimes we have to carry each other, but together we can make it - make lemonade and dream big.”