Business Sense: COVID-19 Crisis Conversations

By Katherine Gifford of Moraware

We Talked to 3 Countertop Shops During the COVID-19 Crisis

It’s a trying time right now for businesses deemed non-essential in certain areas. Some countertop shops seem to be doing just fine, while some shops across the globe are closing their doors until further notice.

We know the fear of the unknown can cause a lot of frustration and stress, so we hope to open the door to communication a bit by sharing what other shops have been going through since the pandemic swept the world.

A huge thank you to the three shops that participated in this article – please leave a comment down below and let us know how your shop is handling the COVID-19 crisis.

1. Paul Hughes at Bath Granite and Marble in the UK

Paul Hughes at Bath Granite and Marble in the UK explains that every business apart from essential services (food, medicine, delivery, medical services, etc.) are closed. 

“There are a few construction workers still operating, but essentially, the construction industry is at a standstill,” he says. While everyone is trying to stay positive, it’s the fear of the unknown that’s causing stress and fear.

Unfortunately, Paul’s factory is closed, and the factory staff is currently at home. His office staff is working from home where possible until further notice. 

“We’re focusing on putting our heads together to try and see a way forward,” he says. For example, they’re still marketing and promoting their company at this time.

“Basically, we are taking stock of the situation and planning carefully, meticulously looking at all aspects of the business in great detail,” he explains.

2. Geoffrey Gran at The Countertop Factory Midwest

Geoffrey Gran, Owner of The Countertop Factory Midwest, is located in Chicago, the 3rd largest city in the country. Illinois has been very aggressive with stay-at-home orders and has only allowed businesses deemed essential to remain open.

Thankfully, The Countertop Factory Midwest was fortunate to be considered essential and has remained open, but they could only work on projects where countertops – and plumbing – were not currently installed.

While Geoffrey has had to lay off employees, his customer mix of builders, box stores, commercial, dealers, and retail has helped ease the blow

“Certain segments like box stores and retail had huge sales drops while builders and commercial projects remained strong,” he explains.

COVID-19 has forced his operation to lay off staff, reduce hours, and focus on controlling expenses. Geoffrey and his staff have learned to live in a new normal where office and sales staff work from home and the production and field staff take extra precautions like wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all times.

“We are conducting virtual sales appointments with customers to review their project, choose material/colors, and sign contracts,” Geoffrey says.

As the pandemic progresses, Geoffrey says he’s been able to hire back 25% of the staff that was originally laid off, and he’s expecting to continue bringing back more employees as the business ramps up.

This month, Illinois is allowing all construction projects to resume, and Geoffrey is hopeful this brings things back to normal.

3. Matt Nicks at StoneTrends

Matt Nicks at StoneTrends explains that in St. Louis, his business has been deemed essential as it supports construction in the state of Missouri.

Up to this point, Matt says he’s been very busy and his business has been doing fine. However, there may be stormy waters ahead.

“Our current workload, in most cases, was activated months prior to the outbreak,” he explains. 

Since Missouri has been enforcing a stay-at-home order since mid-March, Matt expects the limited capacity to have a severe impact on their production over the next few months.

“I guess we keep at it and hope things get back to some sort of normal soon,” he explains.

How Moraware Can Help During a Crisis

Paul explains that Moraware has really helped streamline his business over the last year. “We now have data immediately at our fingertips. Right now, we all can work remotely and still have access to Moraware,” he says.

Moraware’s software is currently helping Paul and his team report, manage, and plan for the future.  

For Geoffrey, The Countertop Factory Midwest has been able to adapt thanks to technology. “When Illinois went to shelter-at-home, we were literally able to have everyone work from home the next day since we are a fully digital company,” says Geoffrey.

All jobs are tracked within Moraware, so nothing needs to be printed, and staff can stay connected. 

“Moraware has allowed our entire company, spread out over hundreds of miles, to seamlessly communicate with each other, our customers and our vendors,” Geoffrey says.

Finally, Matt says he’s been using Moraware for about a year and a half, and he would never have been able to function in this climate without it.

Additional COVID-19 Resources

In order to help support your countertop shop, we’ve compiled essential COVID-19 resources for you. You can find more information on the following on our blog:

  • CARES Act Payroll Loan Program for Countertop Shops
  • CARES Act Tax Credit
  • CARES Act Emergency Grant
  • Cash Flow Relief
  • Paid Sick Leave Policy At Your Shop
  • Keeping Your Fabrication Staff Safe
  • Start Working From Home
  • Keep Your Fab Business Afloat
  • Take Care of Lingering Business Tasks

Thank you for reading, and stay safe!