Like every manufacturing business in the UK, around the world, the last twelve months have been, to say the least testing. Literally every aspect of how we do business has been scrutinised, challenged, and, in a lot of cases, changed.
After more than fifty years in business as a family-owned firm, March 2020 was the first time that Hodgson has closed its doors. That was quite a poignant moment for all of us, especially the members of the Hodgson family who still run the business day-to-day. Our first priority was, of course, the safety and wellbeing of our team. We are a tight knit group here and our first thought was to look after our people, especially with times as uncertain as they were, we knew that they would be worried about the future, their families, their safety.
Getting to grips with all of the new government advice, guidance, laws, and regulations was a steep learning curve. Before March 2020 not many of us had even heard of the word “furlough” let alone implemented a company-wide furlough scheme. Once we had got that sorted and most of the team were safely staying at home, we kept a small skeleton staff at our Beverley HQ and the machines at Hodgson Sealants went quiet for the first time since the 1960s.
We were constantly reviewing the situation and, after a few weeks, as the first wave of the pandemic receded, we started to think about restarting production. This is not as simple as recalling staff and flicking a switch. It required really precise planning by our production management and ops teams to start up efficiently and safely. We also put in place safe working protocols, safety equipment, and new procedures to keep everyone safe when they returned to work. That happened in a phased, planned programme from May to September and by October we were back at pretty much full capacity.
Of course, the effects are still being felt at Hodgson, like all other manufacturing businesses. Imports and exports suffered some delays in January 2021 with changes in procedures brought about by Brexit, and international transport costs also spiked at the same time.
Now our biggest challenge is the availability of raw materials and the other supplies we need to get our products out of the door like cardboard and plastic packaging. These shortages are a real problem across the UK and beyond and are likely to be part of our business life up until at least the end of 2021.
As a well-established, agile business, Hodgson is well placed to meet these challenging times and maintain the sort of customer service we are renowned for. We are looking forward, as we emerge again from lockdown in 2021, to supporting our customers and helping our businesses to grow and prosper.
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