by Heather Grant
The coronavirus pandemic has devastated multiple industries. Travel, hospitality, meetings, entertainment, events and retail are among the hardest hit. Some companies that work within these industries have no work, and limited prospects. The question for many companies became, how to retain their best people, when business suddenly disappears. Here is one company’s solution.
Teamwork Labor Services breathes life into retail environments. For more than 18 years they have provided multiple solutions to Fortune 1000 companies, spanning a vast array of retail sectors including supermarkets, sporting goods stores, drug stores, museums and corporate interiors. Product lines involve new store installations, rollouts, remodels, graphics, fixturing and millwork. A partial client list includes adidas, TJX, Under Armour, CVS Health and Hannafords. Teamwork has maintained their clients, and attracted new ones, by listening to their customers, by focusing on quality work and customer service, and by investing in the training of their people.
In December 2019, prior to the start of a rollout of a new year, the company traveled 20 key installers from around the country to the corporate office in Massachusetts for the “2019 Teamwork University.” It was a combination “spring training” and refresher course in both hard and soft skills: carpentry, rigging, vinyl installation and customer service. It was also designed as a teambuilding and team-bonding experience. One of the highlights of the event, not counting the food and the party, was a contest: break into assigned teams, and with the same limited supplies and limited time, design and build … something. The individual teams were given two and a half hours, plus (2) eight foot 2x3s, (2) 30”x30” pieces of plywood, and one wood pallet. While supplies were limited, the ideas were not: and one goal of this activity was to allow individuals who did not know each other, to come together as a team. The contest was live streamed to Teamwork offices across the country.
That was December. Once the pandemic hit, and continued, the question became, how to keep this talented group, and hundreds of other employees, busy. Was it possible to take demonstrated skills and transfer them to other areas? It was not just about keeping the doors of the company open. It was about providing jobs for people so that they could support themselves and their families.
Due to the pandemic a lot of retail opportunities were postponed, or in some cases canceled altogether, as some stores closed their doors. Fortunately construction is considered an essential activity, and that kept many crews working as a result of previously contracted retail work.
There were also new opportunities with existing clients. One market was grocery stores—another essential industry. Teamwork partners with myriad stores and many brands. Most wanted safety graphics and Plexiglas enclosures. Some wanted a new design and installation of self-checkout units. Other companies wanted Plexiglas enclosures and vinyl graphics installed in their offices, as well as signage on desks, floors, walls and doors. This was all new work, and the direct result of the pandemic.
Despite these opportunities, there was still a need to increase business, if the company wanted to keep people working. The search began: what were opportunities with other businesses?
Working with an electric car company, Teamwork produced a private event at a race track and promoted an invitational test drive. For this job, outdoor tents had to be erected, and safety protocols implemented: temperature checks; and installations of custom logo hand sanitizers and safety graphics. In addition, custom T-shirts and postcards were produced, along with a custom backwall for the CEO’s virtual meetings.
During the pandemic, alcohol consumption increased dramatically. So, did liquor stores have money to spend? The answer was a resounding yes. Teamwork created and installed several high end designer shops, requiring extensive custom millwork.
Another example of thinking outside the box, and finding new clients, was working with casinos. Teamwork installed graphics and Plexiglas enclosures, first in Las Vegas, and then in other casinos around the country.
Chicken farms and the poultry industry was another opportunity for business. The company had never worked with this industry. Teamwork rebranded chicken farms with vinyl signage. Who knew there was such a need?
One of the more obvious skills to transfer is remodeling. It may be obvious, but it is not easy to do it well and with quality; it is even more difficult to do it economically and within budget. Here is one example of the houses Teamwork has remodeled. The existing house was old and run down. The interior had lots of dark paneling and worn linoleum floors. This particular project was not a cosmetic remodel; it needed almost everything new. New roof. New heating system. New sheet rocked walls. New windows and doors. New painting, both the exterior and the interior. A new fireplace. A totally remodeled and redesigned kitchen, plus two new baths. New wood flooring downstairs. New wall to wall carpeting upstairs. New lighting. The list could go on. And on. All demolition, construction and installations were performed by a collection of talented, in-house employees.
People are the key to success in any business. Individual relationships drive sales, and are essential for customer service and customer retention. Teamwork has been effective in finding ways to keep employees employed, because they made a choice to do so, and focused on finding multiple solutions.
Heather Grant (pictured left) is general manager, Teamwork Labor Services, and can be contacted at Heather.Grant@teamwork-inc.com.
This story originally appeared in the Mar./Apr. 2021 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 32. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_mar-apr_2021