Through every employees’ efforts to date, ZOOK has not been impacted by COVID-19 illnesses.
Unfortunately for some of our employees’ families, there have been family members, friends, and acquaintances that have been impacted by COVID-19. For everyone, we offer our prayers and well wishes for courage for what they may face, strength for fighting and beating the challenges created by this awful virus, and compassion for those family members, friends, and acquaintances who may have experienced a loss.
It is August 2020, and for all of us, it has to be one of the most interesting, challenging, and complicated years on record. When I refer to interesting, we are learning everyday from what is going on around us. When I say challenging, we work hard to protect ourselves and the business while supporting our customers, and when I say complicated, I refer to the impact on each of us and the business and the mystery of what may lie ahead. All three (3) influences describe how ZOOK is learning and reacting to the COVID 19 crisis, how are actions are contributing to our performance, and what we are doing to prepare for the future.
Under the circumstances, ZOOK continues to perform pretty well. Customer orders to ZOOK have been lower than expected, mainly due to the slowdown in the US market. Many of our US customers have for the short term idled their facilities during the COVID 19 crisis. Another risk to watch in the US is the impending hurricane that is approaching the Louisiana and Texas coast. The effects of this hurricane could impact our Chemical, Petrochemical, and Oil & Gas business in the region for several months. While the US market is slow, both ZOOK Asia and ZOOK Europe orders have grown compared to last year. Exciting news from ZOOK Asia is that we received our largest order valued at $790,000 for a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) customer for our Skid Safe metal disk product. Also, ZOOK Europe captured about $170,000 in new orders for the Water Desalinization market in the UAE region. And just as I was about to send this update to you, I received word from Dan Angelino at our leadership meeting this morning that US activity has warmed up in August and orders are imminent for both graphite and metal disks. Another exciting topic is new and existing customer quote activity for ZOOK. Compared to 2019, we have seen a 22% increase in quotation activity, and all ZOOK sales regions have contributed to these positive results. As a result of our recent order and quotation performances, we will be adding some additional manufacturing resources in our Canada and US operations. The investment in resources will help with the immediacy of serving our customers, while positioning ZOOK for when the crisis is over and business begins to return to normal. By focusing our attention to be the first to engage and quote the customer, first to deliver our products and services, and first to collect cash so that we can invest and grow, we are presenting ZOOK with the opportunity to win. Our global inside and outside sales teams have done a great job quoting the customer within the same day or 24 hours and our operations have been able to maintain 95% or better on-time delivery. Our urgency to respond and deliver our solutions is our differentiators. Do it during a global pandemic is commendable. Let’s keep it going, and we will succeed!
Additional activities to strengthen our global teams were introduced by Tony Martell, when he and a consultant facilitated a nine (9) week sales training program. The focus of the sales training was on new business development , pre-call planning and how to achieve an excellent sales call. The “new or next” normal created by COVID-19 requires that ZOOK adjust its selling approach to ensure that our “virtual” connection with customers still offers us the opportunity to confirm the need, present a solution, and close the order. The event was well received by our global sales teams, and we expect great results from the experience gained through the training process. Well done!
Another very exciting update for all of you is that the Graphite Business Unit for ZOOK upgraded to the new version of Navision over this past weekend. While I am sure that all of you are busy making this upgrade a success, I have to applaud the results of Gary Kauffman, Jamie Sample, Patrick Henry, Dave Leppelmeier, and our Project Leader, John McNulty. The implementation or upgrade of Navision is not an easy job; nor is it an 8 am to 5 pm job. It is a 24 hour / 7 days a week commitment, and we all know that not every project gets done with out some challenges. These team members and several others in the US and Canada have served you and ZOOK very well. Congratulations and Thank you!
In spite of the challenges faced today, we have to stop and thank everyone for their commitment to succeed. We also need to recognize those ZOOK associates that have achieved a special milestone with our company. In August, Lynda Meandro, who works in our ZOOK Canada office reached her 5 year anniversary with ZOOK. In September, we have 3 other ZOOK Canada employees celebrating work anniversaries including Cameron Holmes for 15 years, Trish Fayle for 20 years, and Arlene Ducharme for 25 years. All 4 Canada employees should be recognized for their service to our customers and ZOOK. Please join me in congratulating them. Thank you!!
We must not reduce our discipline in protecting our global employees. With the start of summer and shortly the return of our children to school, there will be heightened risks for exposure to COVID-19. Over the last several months, ZOOK has issued several safety protocols to protect you and the business and set guidelines on how to react to a potential exposure from inside or outside of the business. These protocols have been communicated in emails and posted at our facilities. With the ever changing environment, I want you all to be aware that we are updating these protocols with our operations and HR teams and will provide information for everyone shortly. Because the COVID-19 crisis will continue for probably several more months, I would not expect to return to our global offices before the end of March 2021.
That’s all for now. Please be careful in everything that you do, wear masks where appropriate, social distance, and be kind to others. We are all facing this complicated challenge together, and if we sustain the actions that we have implemented to date, communicate, and are transparent with each other, then we will take this challenge on and succeed! Thank you!