2020 made us stronger – the good news story we didn’t think we’d see!

03 Sep 2021
BY Dave Salisbury

2020 made us stronger – the good news story we didn’t think we’d see!

After 25 years of managing, developing, and growing Zicam Integrated Security Limited, I thought I knew a thing or two about business. And I do. But ‘every day is a school day’ as they say. Like many business owners around the world, I wasn’t quite prepared for what 2020 had in store for us. When whisperings about a new disease called coronavirus came over the horizon it seemed like something to pay attention to – to keep in mind. Then, as we all know, the whisperings became a shout and coronavirus became a pandemic.

As life started changing around us, it became inevitable that business would also change. I would say that I’m an experienced business owner and like to plan for all eventualities; however, the phrase ‘global pandemic’ is not something that I’ve ever felt necessary to include in my business strategy!

Planning for change

As founder/owner of Zicam it has always been my ethos to put staff first. It’s probably an usual approach, but one that means I have a hardworking, trustworthy, honest bunch of people working for me who have always gone the extra mile when I’ve needed them to. Now, March 2020, was a time more than any other where I needed to put them first to safeguard their livelihoods and safety, and that involved planning.

The plan my operations director and I agreed was business as usual with reviews at two week intervals until (if it came to it) we were told to stop or had to adjust the way we were working. Fortunately, we were confirmed by the government as frontline workers, which meant we could complete the two large projects we had booked in for the end of March. On the flip side to ‘fortunate’ is ‘unfortunate’ and we did have to adjust the way we worked.

Investment (or bracing for impact!)

Following one of the fortnightly reviews we made the decision that to keep our office staff safe they needed to work from home. As the world’s workforce adjusted to a new way of working, we knew we needed to invest in the right kit to be able to keep Zicam going strong. So we actioned our contingency plan and authorised the purchase of new laptops for all office-based staff to allow them to do their jobs effectively.

Office staff covered we looked at keeping our engineers and technicians safe as they travelled to and from and worked at customer sites. I’ve always believed in investing in the best where I can, so when it came to personal protective equipment (PPE) I was looking at surgeon-grade masks and visors, gloves, professional sanitisers, and everything else we needed to protect them. The business was £7,000 lighter after this investment, but that was ok, because we were about to get busy!

Effort paid off

At the start of the pandemic we made a point of talking to all of our customers and reassuring them that all booked and future work they had planned could go ahead. Our staff were safe and protected and because of that, their staff were also safe and protected. Many of our customers are hauliers and logistics companies – two areas that really felt the pressure in 2020. As their business increased ours in support of them did to. We were able to contribute to keeping the country running because we invested early, changed our protocols, and kept our staff safe. For us it wasn’t business as usual, it wasn’t business damaged, but business improved.

Full employment

We were lucky to be in the business we are to have survived one of the world’s worst economic disasters. But I do also have to credit our agility to change, the commitment of our staff, and our willingness to invest. When so many companies struggled and continue to struggle (and I sincerely hope they get back on their feet quickly), I’m proud we’re still here with a full complement of staff.

Zicam staff were rewarded with a 4% wage increase and a Christmas bonus for their hard work and resilience and not one of them had to be furloughed. Our order book is strong for 2021 and looks set to continue in 2022. As CEO, that’s quite a good feeling.

Milan Mazić, CEO, Zicam Integrated Limited.

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