Well hasn’t 2020 been an interesting time. The confusion and uncertainty starting in March, for me specifically this was in the form of apprehension of future sales, the burden plus uncertainty of overheads and the looming reports that nonessential trade would have to stop. My immediate reaction was to cancel all large overseas and supplier orders and move production completely in house, just like the ‘good ol’ days’.
Keeping a close eye on the news and doing all I can to keep customers and local vendors happy, while trying to have contingencies in place if we were to go into a ‘full’ lock down was rather stressful, to put it simply. After the first two weeks the initial shock seemed to wear off and financial relief packages were implemented. This bought on a sudden boom of orders, in fact double what I would normally expect in ‘regular’ times. Completely unprepared at a time when I was thinking this was the end and preparing to simply survive. Having previously cancelled my large orders, now it was time to put the pressure on and see what my suppliers could do, many of them were in social distancing protocols and some less than half their normal staff, manufacturing times were doubled at best, some had simply shut their doors and this required finding alternatives.
Panic is the only word I could use to describe this period, double orders, delayed supply and no more international deliveries, in or out. Once I worked through the first batch along came the second onslaught, this time three times my ‘normal’ sales, wow! I was seeing some of my business friends struggle, some close or take breaks while others were thriving, it added to the uncertainty that’s for sure. It was around this time I made the decision to drop all international suppliers permanently and use only Australian made or owned companies and wherever possible support small business. This led to some redesigns in processes, a new way of working and along with a much higher cost to make products. I decided that this is how I can help the economy, to do this I personally absorbed the additional costs and helped any small business I could with my support. This notion spewed over to everything in my life, considering where my groceries came from, if my fuel was independent, who actually makes my shirts? Supporting Australia in any way I can with my dollars!
Around the end of July things seemed to get easier, the demand was just as high, but my local supply chain and new production systems were in ‘full swing’, sure I was still working too much, but I considered myself lucky to be working at all. Phrases like ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ and ‘Take it while it’s there’ were all thrown around regularly, but this actually lead me to the dreaded ‘burn out’ that I have always thought I was impervious of. I don’t really know how to describe it, for me this was like my body lost all of its power, but my mind was still raring to go, every minute every day. I took some self-care steps but that came with immense guilt! There was the invisible pressure of my customer promise, the pressure I put on myself about the amount of capital now in circulation and my inability to stop or let go and the constant fear that sales will simply stop!
September and November was the time to ‘trim the fat’, what am I doing that in unnecessary, what am I overlooking and what I am making hard for the ‘sake of it’, I’m sure the business owners know what I’m talking about!! Looking at the future, using ATP to support other small Australian businesses and grow into something positive for the community, not just a ‘job’ for me. Supplying my customers quality products without compromise and always to the standard you expect, the standard I expect!
Coming back to the inevitable ‘catch can price rise’. As of today it takes 19-21 Australian companies to bring you just one catch can and countless jobs within those companies too. The support of my little product, my brand, goes so far beyond just me. Committing to quality through Australian suppliers has made the cost of producing catch cans significantly higher. I made a promise to myself that I would absorb the cost for as long as possible, and I have, however this is unsustainable if ATP is to continue to produce high quality catch cans 2021 and beyond and continue to commit to supporting fellow Australian small business. So as of January 11th the price of catch cans will be increasing. I appreciate your continued support with my commitment to assist small Australian business, it truly means the world!
On reflection 2020 has been a great year, even though there have been unbelievable ups and downs. Everything has forced me to grow and really measure what’s important, not just in ATP but all of my life! I am so grateful for your support and everyone who was so patient while I got on top of the madness, thank you. My suppliers and vendors, I could not have made it through this year without you, thank you.
2021 it’s time, come at me bro!