From the very early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, Speedpak Contract Services has been supporting the national supply chain of personal protective equipment [PPE] alongside disposable food packaging. Mandatory social distancing measures, which meant an obligatory reduction in staff numbers, coupled with high nationwide demand, have ensured that Speedpak has remained extremely busy.
Shamrock Rosettes, on the other hand, faced an uncertain future, following the cancellation of virtually all summer agricultural and equestrian shows Europe-wide. Redeployment of staff members to the contract packing division provided a temporary solution but it was abundantly clear that a more sustainable and innovative response was needed if we were to continue to utilise all of our resources, not least our workers and their particular skill sets.
The manufacture and supply of re-usable face coverings represented an obvious alternative business to explore. A clothing vendor contact, with a surplus supply of inexpensive cotton fabric that could be repurposed, provided an opportunity to collaborate on a new venture.
We tested a number of face covering designs before arriving at a product that was compatible with our in-house manufacturing capabilities including design, print management, packing and logistics and that would meet with the needs of our customers. Meanwhile, the screen-printing capability of our fabric supplier allowed us to pitch a value-added point of differentiation from most other mask manufacturers, by offering our customers branded face coverings.
Shamrock Rosettes can now supply bulk orders of multi-pack, branded, double barrier, 100% cotton face masks with built-in filter pockets. They are washable, reusable and, we are delighted to say, repurposed.
Our first orders have already been shipped to our new customers and, with more in production, we are actively engaging with them to identify potential additional requirements that may be requested or improvements that can be made, in order to ensure the ongoing success of this new venture.
Given the worldwide social, cultural and economic impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic, our experience from a Social Enterprise perspective has demonstrated once again how collaboration can be a catalyst for success. It has highlighted the constant need for a business such as ours, to remain focused, flexible and entrepreneurial, not only in the pursuit of commercial success but also in the continued achievement of a social dividend. In our case, that flexibility and focus enabled us to continue supporting a local community with employment opportunities. Further, it is our hope that as the economy opens up and we continue to learn more about – and improve upon – social distancing work practices, our entrepreneurial spirit will allow us to expand our new customer base and thereby increase our staffing levels.