DATE: April 21, 2020
The NYDEC has spoken with several of our small business exporters in the New York metropolitan region regarding the challenges presented by COVID-19, the effects on their businesses, employees and global clients and partners, and what they are doing in response.
We are sharing the stories of several CEO’s to help understand how they are being impacted by the social distancing, disruption of their supply chains and consequences for their employees as well.
Should there be a wish to interview the businesses noted, we are happy to connect you with them directly. Please contact Nancy Ploeger, firstname.lastname@example.org or 917-796-4201 if you would like to discuss this further with any of the leaders participating in this release.
The New York Metropolitan area is one of the major economic engines in the United States and now the center of the Covid-19 Pandemic in the country. Our grit and leadership at the government and commercial level is worth highlighting.
In the following, CEOs of local small business exporters share lessons they have learned during the crisis and provide some valuable information about steps they have taken in response.
Lee Spring is a crucial partner in the detection of, response to, and research surrounding the COVID-19 virus. We provide products that are an integral component of medically essential, critical and, often, life-saving equipment such as testing equipment, medical disposables, and, often, life-saving equipment such as testing equipment, medical disposables, medical instruments, surgical devices,and research. We are also very prevalent in other critical infrastructure sectors such as communications, defense, and power transmission, to name a few.
It has been very humbling to see the massive call forsupport from our customers during this crisis because of our extensive reach into these critical areas. As a result, Lee Spring is considered an essential business and all our global facilities have remained openand operational. That being said, the safety of our employees and surrounding community is our first andforemost concern. We have and will continue to ensure that our employees engage in social distancingand are equipped with all necessary protections to ensure their safety.
We have made several key adjustments to the way we work in our facilities including more frequent daily cleaning, split shifts, daily temperature screenings, and reduced access inside our facilities. All employees that can work from home are now doing so and are fully functional, available, and ready to support our customers. A comprehensive response plan is also in place should there be any exposure to COVID-19. Despite some intermittent incidents, the impact to Lee Spring has been minimized thus far due to our global footprint, redundancy, and great support from our employees, supplier base, and our customers.
Peter Tierney, President / World Technology Corporation / New York, NY / http://worldtechnology.net/
World Technology is a New York based exporter of American made renewable energy equipment. Although we have exported US products to over 45 countries, our main markets right now are in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Both of these areas are now shutting down for business. We have banks in Jamaica holding off on loans for solar systems, and projects and payments starting to slow down drastically. For example, one of our large projects using solar roof tiles (made in Poughkeepsie, New York), has been delayed as the jobsite in the Bahamas has been shut down for 2-3 months. On the bright side, most of our U.S. manufacturers are still up and running, but with factory employees wearing masks and following social distancing rules. One key advantage of being an exporter is that our sales are spread over multiple countries. So, if the Covid crisis recedes at different paces in different countries, this may allow our company to ride this storm much easier than if we were operating in only 1 market – like New Jersey, for example!
We spent about 1 week collecting documents and applying for the SBA’s EIDL and Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) relief programs. But we are not spending any time checking their status as our main focus now is to move business forward to keep our employees busy and paid during this crisis period.
Barbara Barran, President / Classic Rug Collection, Inc. / Brooklyn, NY / https://classicrug.com/
For 21 years I have owned Classic Rug Collection, Inc., selling fine custom rugs to designers and architects. Through the first week of March, my gross sales were three times what they were last year; within the next two weeks, I lost $200k in anticipated new orders. I have 1000 paid for flat weave rugs stuck in Mumbai, and a $30k finished rug waiting for Customs in Nepal to open. In the past three weeks, my sales have been $239. I applied on-line to the SBA for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of $10,000, which was supposed to be funded in three days. I got a confirmation number, but no money. There’s no way to check on the loan on the SBA site, nor do they answer their phones or respond to emails. It was the same with the local SBA office. I wrote to Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez’s assistant, as Velasquez is the head of the Small Business Committee in the House. No reply. And I still don’t see where to apply for the balance of the money that I need. Now I see that the government is adding $200 billion to the fund. Maybe the Boeings of the world are getting this money, but the smallest of the small businesses are not.
Ed Dorian, Jr., Managing Partner / Dorian Drake International / https://www.doriandrake.com/
Dorian Drake International, is an export management company based in White Plains, NY, that employs a global staff of 58, with 40 based in our NY headquarters, the balance in sales offices in 13 locations around the world. In early March we suspended all travel — a critical component to our business—and arranged for all of our NY staff to work from home. We had a solid, if not spectacular, first quarter, and we’re forecasting to be at, or near, break-even at mid-year, but order activity has slowed appreciably this month, as almost all of our markets have now shut down due the pandemic; we are bracing for some rough months ahead.
Our bank advised yesterday that our Payroll Protection Program application has been approved, and the funds we are expecting to receive will be a big help over the next two months, enabling us to keep our staff intact. The relief for us is limited, however, because many of our highest paid staff are foreign nationals exempt from PPP relief. We advised our global team in a Town Hall meeting today that if most of the world remains in lock-down at mid-year, we will likely be forced to implement pay cuts and consider also the possibility of some staff furloughs. been approved, and the funds we are expecting to receive will be a big help over the next two months, enabling us to keep our staff intact. The relief for us is limited, however, because many of our highest paid staff are foreign national exempt from PPP relief. We advised our global team in a Town Hall meeting today that if most of the world remains in lock-down at mid-year, we will likely be forced to implement pay cuts and consider also the possibility of some staff furloughs.
We can learn from these stories and see the tough determination of entrepreneurial companies in the greater NYC area just how they are managing the Covid-19 Pandemic:
- Protecting the personal and safety interests of employees is a mandatory mindset.
- Preparation and developing responsiveness plans are critical.
- Collaboration with suppliers, staff and customers worldwide can be a very valuable action step.
- Companies with “essential” characteristics, who are still operating and manufacturing, can have certain employees work from home and others onsite, work with complete safety measures in place.
- Not all countries around the world, where we sell, to are as impacted as others. These markets are still open and buying from USA suppliers
- Accessing government recovery programs will help minimize the impact of the business downturn faced by all companies including exporters.
- However, we must communicate to our government leadership that programs designed to support business through this crisis need to take into account the unique issues faced by smaller companies and those most in need.