John Tudor, MD of Access Covers Ltd, is the first of our Business Heroes.
Business leader: John Tudor, Managing Director
Company name and location Access Covers Ltd, Rugeley, Staffordshire
Business activity (day job): Design and fabrication of high-quality steel access covers and auxiliary drainage products for the civil engineering industry.
Business activity (during Covid-19): Design and fabrication as normal, resulting in highest June sales ever, and fundraised and supported NHS workers.
Pearl of wisdom to thrive not just survive: ‘’The right people to help guide you through uncertainty could come from any employee of any level. One of our welders contributed so much.’’
Firm covers the basics for frontline workers
Rugeley-based Access Covers specialise in the design and fabrication of high-quality steel access covers and auxiliary drainage products for the civil engineering industry.
When the full effects of Covid-19 hit home in April, the four-year-old company decided it wanted to do something to support the frontline NHS workers who were hit with the full impact of the pandemic.
MD John Tudor’s daughter works for the NHS and knew first-hand about the immense pressure staff were under. The company led the charge on creating a ‘wobble room’ that staff could utilise after particularly stressful long shifts. By producing T-shirts to sell and fundraise, the room was kitted out with confectionery, soft drinks, and essentials such as shower gel, shampoo, hand cream and washing powder that they could take home without having to endure the supermarket.
John said: “From concept to delivery of the first t-shirt, it took three days. The company paid to have the first batch of 200 produced, thus all the profits went straight to buying supplies from the cash & carry. They sold quickly and we ordered more. Our neighbours on Towers Business Park, Direct Mail Solutions, handled the postage and very kindly picked up the cost which meant an extra £3 per order could go to buying the goodies for the NHS staff.”
But it was the business activity that went on behind the scenes that meant that the business remained fully operational despite customer and social distancing restrictions. In fact, they recorded their best monthly sales in June. They even supplied covers to the NHS Nightingale Hospital.
So, what did they do and what can we all learn from Access Covers should something like Covid-19 happen again?
‘’When everyone in the company shares a vision and is invested in it, every person is essential,” John continues. ‘When in a crisis, anyone can be at the top table.
With such a very human story that is Covid-19, we have all been affected in different ways. We understood that and also understood that we needed a small team who you could manage under pressure and help to problem solve in a brand-new way. Whilst some people very understandably had their mind on the safety of their family, others had the brain-space to find solutions around what seemed like impossible tasks.
We needed to understand what was happening on the ground with our staff. What came together was a small team of all ages and all levels of seniority – all coming together to find solutions that worked. Together we found our way through how we were going to maintain our skill base if people needed to isolate. We found solutions to how we would work with people that might need to shield. We accelerated changes that were already on the cards, like going paperless, but which became a necessity in the pandemic.
The solutions came from every one of every level.’’
So how did John and Access Covers benefit from accessing business support?
‘’For me, being a member of the Chamber means that you’ve always got someone to bounce things off. There’s no judgement, just a group of people that’s really supportive, trying to share best practice and advising in these very odd times. They really do want to get the best results for businesses of any size.’’
What’s John’s advice to the rest of the business community?
”In a crisis, it’s a small group of the right people that make the difference. Put the pecking-order and seniority out of the window.’’
Now the nuts and bolts of the business is thriving, the philanthropy can continue.
“We intend to carry on with our efforts to support key workers and would like to widen the scheme to NHS trusts across the UK.”
Follow Access Covers Ltd’s lead with business support bespoke to you…
Access Covers has benefited from a range of business support:
- As a standard Member of the Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce .
- From the Skills Hub to help up-skill their team – a service commissioned by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Enterprise Partnership.
- From the Growth Hub through a free business diagnostic– a partnership organisation commissioned by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Enterprise Partnership, accountable to Staffordshire County Council.