Northern Precision on challenges during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Made in Yorkshire sat down with Steve Smith, Sales Director at Northern Precision, to discuss the additional challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they are overcoming them.

Established in 1996, Northern Precision supplies a range of products including self- clinching fasteners, Bonding fasteners, Inserts for solid surfaces, broaching fasteners, rivet bushes, blind rivet nuts, weld studs and blind rivets as well as installation tooling and spares. Through the investment in training for their employees, the experience of their technical sales engineers and their customer-focused management systems; they have built a reputation for providing high-quality products and services that keep them at the forefront of the industry.

Flashback to March 2020, Northern Precision stayed open during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown where they mainly supplied fasteners for the medical industry.  The parts were used for critical ventilators during the time as well as for other essential medical equipment.  On top of providing these essential parts for the ventilators, the firm also had to get a factory opened early in Italy to produce fasteners that were needed desperately in the Nightingale hospitals in the UK.

Though this was a difficult time for many manufacturers up and down the country, Northern Precision managed to gain additional customers in this sector. One of their orders included a request for hundreds of thousand self-clinching fasteners to be supplied within 6 Weeks. 

Steve Smith, Sales Director at Northern Precision, told Made in Yorkshire how it felt to be involved with the central demand during the time:

“It felt great to play a small part in helping the medical industry in a time of global need. In order to stick to social distancing measures, we split the company into two shifts. However, this was a challenge as the second shift had to pick up where the first had left off and vice versa the following week. But we were determined to complete the orders for such a critical cause.” 

Another challenge the firm faced was working remotely as they did not have the infrastructure in place to do so. This was due to having had a fire in their own building last year and having to move into temporary premises.  They had the additional problems of trying to get their building repaired and this was severely hampered as a result of the lockdown.  The old building is now only a few weeks away from being finished and the firm can move back home. This means the infrastructure will be in place and soon office staff will be able to work from home if needed.

 However, Steve admits one of the biggest concerns was the vast majority of their customers closing shop; this was also redeemed in some ways due to additional requests from the medical sector and providing other new sectors. To overcome the challenges the firm faced during this period, such as sales staff not being able to visit customers physically, the firm has put new procedures in place. This includes digital technical files such as videos and documents to send to customers if they require the information.  Steve also mentioned that this gave the firm a chance to adapt to new ways of working such as holding meetings online. He said: “As a result of the pandemic, manufacturers and other businesses have been forced to embrace digital platforms like video applications. Like in our business, it has also given them a chance to re-evaluate their business strategies which is a good thing.”