In this week’s Into Business, Craig Colgan speaks to Henry Fearon of Fearon Developments based in Mountpleasant, Dundalk. Fearon's were formed in 1965 & are a supplier to both Trade & DIY for all Kitchen and Bedroom furniture needs – from sheet materials, sinks, taps, worktops through to handles.
With the current restrictions in place we asked Henry how their business has been affected?
"Like all businesses, the challenges posed by the initial lockdown coupled with the re-opening, presented huge challenges both for the business and all our staff. We initiated very early on certain protective steps to help protect both customers and staff, from staggered work shifts and regulating control of flow. Several of our staff had personal challenges to deal with and so we tried to remain as flexible and understanding as possible with individual needs. This has resulted in our methods of work evolving slightly to deal with these new ways of doing business.
We have invested heavily in protecting our staff and safeguarding the foot area of our premises for customers. From PPE, to work from home setup, to more recently an electronic barrier to limit influx into our main warehousing and showroom…we have tried to tackle every new threat posed by Covid-19 transmission.
The initial stages included many projects initially paused but then an influx of resumed Projects with heavy pressure on timescales and deadlines. Thankfully this has continued to push business going forward and was greatly needed, despite the new challenges presented. Unfortunately, this has been industry wide in our field, so this has created a real battle with Supply Chains and made obtaining good’s a real challenge"
Can your businesses in your category survive through more lockdown?
"We are lucky in that we are able to remain open during this most recent lockdown. However, many businesses are understandably struggling or closing fully. The government aid, along with Local Enterprise, Louth County Council. & Enterprise Ireland have offered very helpful assistance along this, especially during that first lockdown when everyone really struggled. Without the directed and focussed help aimed at small businesses, I fear many more would be closed today. I hope this focus continues in order that small local businesses can keep their doors opened and staff fully employed, in these especially challenging times.
If another full lockdown was initiated in our category, it would be a difficult challenge and would involve even further adaption to the new way of managing the Covid-19 pandemic. We would like to think we are better prepared this time round, but unfortunately it would still be a massive impact on our business – both financially and in what we could have delivered to customers whom are needing our products and services. We would hope that with help again, we might be able to lessen this impact."
Having put so much into the business through lockdown to protect it, we wanted to know what are the future plans for the business?
"Recently we have launched our new online shop where customers can continue to buy our full range of goods, delivered direct to their door. We will continue to develop this platform to grow into as user friendly and enjoyable experience as possible. Visit fearons.ie for our full range of products. We have invested more time into our social media, and aim to keep our customers as up to date on all products and ranges as actively as possible, as well as be available to answer any questions as best as possible – without the need to physically drop into our store.
We believe that this pandemic has fundamentally changed how people shop for goods & services. We would hope that these measures will somewhat future proof our business for years to come."
With experiences of different recessions as it’s a third-generation business, we wanted to see if Henry had any advice to other business owners about how to stay positive through lockdown?
"As a business owner, I think there will always be something to do, no matter a lockdown. Stay active, do research, do projections/plans, sign up to as many webinars as possible – keep your head in the field you’re in. Use the chance to focus on those things that will help you should you re-open, like researching new products, or learning a new skillset, or even just keeping in the loop with business opportunities and developments. Communicating with those customers who made need re-assurance or guidance is very important. The world has evolved so much over the last few years, that even locked in your house you can keep certain things evolving within your business. The new range of online webinars, communication methods and resources available has been exceptional. Being able to deal with this pandemic has become much more bearable than say ten years ago, with the evolution of technology to such a high degree."
For more information on Fearon Developments and their services, please contact Henry and the team at 042 937 1281 or visit www.fearons.ie
If you would like your business featured please contact Craig on email@example.com or on Twitter @craigleocolgan