Maintaining a 135-year legacy of innovations for dairy farmers doesn’t come without its challenges – including pandemics and crises. Throughout two world wars and several pandemics and outbreaks, DeLaval has adapted to continue providing world-class solutions to dairy farmers around the globe.
As it did for many other companies, the coronavirus pandemic put DeLaval into crisis-response mode. After six months, while the pandemic continues it is no longer a crisis for our company, and we have learned a lot in implementing our business continuity plans. As a result, we are operating with a “new normal” in a more cohesive, customer-focused way.
In mid-March, our North American management team discussed and implemented a number of immediate actions to protect people, ensure business continuity and safeguard our financials. By giving focus to these three areas, we adapted to the circumstances imposed on all of us, increased productivity, maintained production and continued to grow.
I’m sure many business leaders would agree, people make the difference. For our organization, the safety and health of our personnel has always been a top priority. I’m sincerely proud of how quickly our team adapted to the challenges of working remotely, adhering to strict health and safety guidelines, and created new ways to connect with dealers and customers.
As a global dairy company, we were in the unique position to learn from what colleagues in other countries were going through ahead of us and adopt some of the protocols they put in place to keep our warehouses and plants running.
We also closed our offices and asked people to work from home. This type of remote work was new for many people, and we attempted to counteract any uncertainty with regular communication—also directed to our dealers. We shared health and safety information, new guidelines for visiting farms, and relevant supply chain news. This cadence of communication is something we’ll keep up with, so that employees, dealers and customers stay informed and feel more engaged with us.
Ensuring Business Continuity
Even in the worst of crises, there are opportunities. We have worked hard to identify those opportunities and make positive changes as a result of the circumstances around us. As a business serving an essential industry, we had to adapt and work smarter to maintain business continuity. To date, we have not closed a single warehouse or plant in North America due to COVID-19. At these locations, we implemented social distancing protocols and made masks and sanitizers readily available.
Due to widespread travel restrictions, our field team employed digital tools to help them connect with and advise customers. DeLaval also adapted its dairy tours in the face of the pandemic by shifting to a virtual tour format, which still enables producers to see our equipment in operation but in a safer—and arguably—more convenient way. We also enhanced our digital presence by informing our social media followers and visitors to our website of the steps we were taking to ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers.
For us to be in business, our customers need to be in business, too. Cash flow is an obvious concern for any outfit but especially in time of crisis. DeLaval offered “stimulus packages” to customers as a means to reducing their operational costs. We also introduced new financing and leasing options so producers could continue investing in the futures of their farms.
Safeguarding Financial Health
With such an enduring dairy legacy and a solid foundation as part of the international Tetra Laval group, DeLaval is committed to serving producers for decades to come. In the past months, we prioritized our financial obligations, including paying salaries, and conducted a critical review of everything we were investing in and made a few trade-offs to keep cash flow and liquidity in check. Thankfully, DeLaval remains in a good position to help dealers and dairy producers prosper.
Beyond the ‘New Normal’
We’re probably never going “back to the way things were” before the coronavirus pandemic. The “new normal” is our reality, and I can honestly admit that I think our organization is stronger for having adapted to it. I’m proud of how our people have “shown up” during this challenging time. From implementing new, flexible office hours, expanding virtual dairy tours, offering customers new financial options, to broadening our internal and external communication, these are just a few of the positive aspects we will carry with us into 2021 and beyond. We will continue to focus on health and safety with the most up-to-date protocols to maintain a healthy environment for both our employees and our customers.