John Mestitz is the managing director of Techna International Ltd, a company first established in 1945 which offers an extensive range of electrical and mechanical products for numerous sectors. In conversation with the Leaders Council of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, Mestitz reflects on how the business has adapted to meet the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19 and offers his thoughts on the government’s gradual easing of lockdown restrictions. Mestitz also shares his hopes that industrial and commercial firms can get back on their feet over the coming weeks with the right procedures and support.
Addressing the decision of prime minister Boris Johnson and the government to further ease lockdown restrictions from the beginning of June, Mestitz believes that the move may not be the most effective from a health perspective, but is ultimately necessary for the country’s economic well-being.
Mestitz said: “From a health perspective, the decision to relax lockdown restrictions is questionable, particularly if we are desperate to avoid a second spike in cases as we have so often been told.
“That said, the move to ease restrictions is definitely necessary, not just from an economic perspective, but also to help the British workforce break free of the trauma and fear of Covid-19 and adopt a positive attitude toward returning to work.”
The impact of the pandemic on businesses is beginning to be more widely understood, with the UK’s manufacturing PMI falling to 32.6 during the month of April and marginally improving to 40.7 in May, signalling a contracting market. Touching on Techna’s response to the crisis, Mestitz himself has been working 12-hour days to keep the business operational during the period, while 60 per cent of staff have had to adapt to working from home with the remainder working staggered shift patterns to help with social distancing. This significant effort from all at the business has not gone unrewarded.
Elaborating on this, Mestitz said: “Fortunately, the good thing is that the outlook is okay so far, for our business at least. We did see our orders fall by 35 per cent in April but May’s numbers saw orders drop by just ten per cent compared to May 2019. That is testament to the hard work that everyone at Techna has put in during this time.
“Interestingly, these orders do include a lot of new business which has compensated for customers who have been spending less. The coming times may be tough, but clearly there are still good opportunities out there.”
Furthermore, Techna was particularly proactive in its approach to the Covid-19 lockdown, enjoying something of a “head start” due to the fact it had begun preparing for a lockdown prior to the government's announcement.
Mestitz explained: “We did have something of a head start by triggering our lockdown preparations a few weeks earlier than the government announcement.”
In Mestitz’s view, continuing to be proactive and plan for the future will be what holds the business in good stead going forward. He also foresees a pathway for industrial and commercial firms to return to work as the government seeks to lift restrictions.
“As well as the day to day fulfilment of orders, we have been planning for the future preparing new marketing strategies and new products. We have kept our staff on a full-time basis/ and we are now considering hiring more.
“Concerning the wider future for businesses, while it may still be too soon for gyms, cinemas and restaurants to reopen, I believe most industrial and commercial businesses could get back into the swing of things and still retain safe working conditions if they plan correctly.”