Adapting and improving the key for Meiko UK as company looks to push on post-Covid

Published by Scott Challinor on January 19th 2022, 8:03am

Meiko UK is a global technology and service company that specialises in products used in warewashing, cleaning and disinfection. As has been the case with many businesses, it has been forced to undergo its fair share of challenges through the global pandemic, but having navigated them successfully, the firm is looking to take the positive lessons forward from the last two years and operate with a renewed focus on sustainability.

Meiko UK’s managing director, Paul Anderson, recently joined host Joshua Jackson on the Leaders Council Podcast series. The first challenge for the business after the national lockdown was called, as Anderson explained, was to find new income streams after much of the company’s business disappeared overnight.

Anderson recalled: “We had a flyer in the three or four years preceding the pandemic and the first quarter of 2020 was amazing. Then before we knew it, by March 23 the lockdown was underway and 80 per cent of our business was gone overnight.

“We provide products for commercial cleaning, so we’re talking about dishwashing, glass washing, sanitisation, bedpan, removal systems for washing waste. So, straight away the market closed off dramatically with hotels and restaurants all having to close, and it took our legs away completely.

“Fortunately, we also support NHS and care, so we were a frontline working team and we continued with that to provide a vital income stream, but on the whole the pandemic had a dramatic effect.”

While adapting quickly to profit more greatly from other income streams was a key aspect of Meiko UK’s pandemic response, Anderson also outlined that there were many operational challenges the business needed to get to grips with. This included, but was not isolated to, placing some members of staff on furlough and abiding by regulations such as social distancing.

“We adapted as quickly as we could”, Anderson said.

“I held regular meetings with our management team, we put people on furlough, we reduced hours, we rotated people. Then as more and more businesses that were still operating suddenly became more hygiene conscious than ever, they were looking for products to clean their dishwashers and glasswashers. So, these dark kitchen businesses, takeaways, they started coming to us more and more and we started to promote more products that we hadn’t necessarily promoted before.

“We had fire brigades, the healthcare industry and Addenbrooke’s Hospital coming to us with demand for clean reusable mask products, so that was something else we focused on.”

Anderson did not shy away from admitting that the pandemic had come as a significant learning curve for the business, and the increased use of technology to help keep the business operating is an element which he feels will remain a key part of how the firm functions in the future.

“Through Zoom, Teams and other forms of media, a whole new world of connectivity came to life that nobody had really been aware of before. I do think that the hybrid working is going to stay with us, and it makes perfect sense.

“Having some people working remotely actually made us efficient in certain areas. Given the systems under which we work, we need to have some people coming into the office or certain premises, but we have people working remotely where it is possible and that saves on a lot of things such as fuel and makes us more time efficient and productive.

“As for Covid, this virus hasn't just disappeared from the atmosphere, it's still here and we've got to learn to live with it. These little policies and procedures that we've all adapted, hygiene awareness, social distancing, taking care of yourself and taking care of others and talking about things, all of this will remain.”

When asked about what the post-pandemic future may hold for Meiko UK, Anderson revealed that the business will seek to continue to adapt using the lessons taken on board during Covid, with an increased focus on hygiene and a willingness to address the next major challenge that industry and the wider world faces: the climate emergency.

Anderson said: “As a business, we don’t stand still. We’ve been going since 1927 and we focus on hygiene solutions, which has become incredibly important during this pandemic. We’ve increased our focus on hygiene, therefore, and adapted our products better for the removal of Covid. We are looking at additional areas such as branching into mask cleaning apparatus and we’re focusing more on thermal disinfection for care homes.

“Further to that, with the government’s push toward net zero carbon emissions, we’re very much working on green waste solutions that can be converting waste back into energy. We're looking at sustainability, we're using less chemicals, less water and less power. We are a top-end company, but we want to be a company that is giving much more but using much less.”

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

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Scott Challinor
Business Editor
January 19th 2022, 8:03am

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