The Elevate Summit on May 28, 2020, featured an incredible business owner’s panel. The following is a brief overview of each business owner’s journey. Owners discussed the challenges and successes they faced during the first three months of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Steve Conlin – Ogden Distillery
Steve owns and runs a distillery in Ogden, Utah. He has run this business for eleven years. When the initial concerns with COVID started, Steve began getting emails saying, “your business should consider making hand sanitizer.” Unfortunately, making hand sanitizer requires special permits that Steve did not have. Within a short time, the government sent an email telling distilleries they could start making hand sanitizer.
Within 48 hours, Steve and his employees were able to make hand sanitizer. When they opened their doors for sales to the public, there was always a massive line of people buying the hand sanitizer. Steve ended up adding an extra eleven employees to his business.
Steve was grateful and surprised to see that adding hand sanitizer as a revenue stream allowed his company to invest back into the community. It allowed Steve to see a vision of what was possible for his business. The company was able to buy gift certificates from restaurants and other companies that were taking a hit during the Pandemic. The company would give the gift cards out to friends or Facebook followers. The gift cards gave people a reason to visit these restaurants for carry-out services. The question became, “how are we being affected by COVID” to “how can we help others?”
Isaac Childs, Rustico
Isaac Childs runs Rustico, a specialized company that designs and makes handcrafted leather goods. Rustico prides itself on getting all of their production goods locally, in Utah. Rustico pivoted to facemasks, accidentally. The workers had made them for themselves when working – but then decided to challenge themselves. Rustico set a goal to make one thousand masks; this was a challenging goal. Rustico had two employees who could sew. However, they completed the goal. The masks sold out within three hours.
Rustico saw the need and started to ask, what do we need to do to concentrate on mask sales since our goods are not as in demand due to COVID-19? The answer: retrain the entire team to learn how to sew, change the settings on the machines, ask for 1 to 1 mask matches (meaning they donate a mask for every mask sold), and finally reach out to anyone locally that knows how to sew to get a larger workforce.
Rustico became creative – with the new sewing employees, they would do a drive-in system. The new employees would drive in, pick up their materials, and drive back once they completed the masks. Childs said of the experience that it was a massive headache, but an incredible experience. Rustico went from 2-3 sewers on the team to 45 in just over four or five weeks.
Greg Nielsen – Telligent IP
Greg Nielsen runs Telligent IP, a telecommunication company. Greg noticed that COVID-19 caused a significant decrease in services from the company. However, Telligent used that as an opportunity to invest in the business’s services. Telligent IP instantly reserviced their current customers so they could work remotely. Then, they tapped into medical services. Telligent IP was able to set up a system for medical professionals. If a patient had an appointment, the software would text a reminder to the patient and text them have them wait in their car until it was their turn.
Greg’s company got the PPE loan – the company wanted to ensure that they could keep all of their employees. The company experienced a sharp decline in revenues from some clients, and other new clients popped up out of nowhere. What surprised Greg is that some companies, big clients, entered into deferred payments with Telligent IP. Greg appreciates this because the customers he worked with felt comfortable enough to talk to us about the need for deferral payments.