By Park Kersman, President, Lorin Industries, Inc.
Lorin Industries is a leading manufacturer of high-end anodized aluminum materials for the architectural, automotive, and consumer goods markets, selling to other OEMs that manufacture or install products for end users. So how did Lorin begin manufacturing hand sanitizer stands from our proprietary anodized aluminum and selling them as an end product to consumers and other companies alike? The answer lies in our extensive practices of adaptability, in which Lorin has remained nimble and pivoted its production to meet customer and market needs. This article will explore key tips for how to do so, using the case of the hand sanitizer stands as an example. Both in the current COVID-19 crisis and the financial crisis of 2008-2009, these tips have helped to keep Lorin stable even while the rest of the market has experienced upheaval.
Case study: Hand Sanitizer Stands
The story of Lorin’s high-end, anodized aluminum hand sanitizer stands began as the company adapted to new manufacturing and business practices to keep employees safe at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As an essential business, Lorin continued to operate, albeit with a number of changes to operations in order to maintain safety. One of those changes was the addition of hand sanitizing stations throughout manufacturing and office spaces. Dissatisfied with the options available on the market, particularly as demand had caused a shortage, the company decided to manufacture sanitizer stands for our own use. Naturally, we turned to our proprietary anodized aluminum as the material for the new stands. Beyond its sleek and modern look, anodized aluminum can help to minimize surface pathogen collection. The maintenance team tested several different types, and the design team honed these designs into stylish, functional products.
These teams also recognized that Lorin wasn’t the only essential business that needed to improve its capacity for sanitizing within its facilities, and that other businesses would soon also need to implement more widespread sanitary procedures for employees and customers. What’s more, the maintenance and design teams at Lorin wouldn’t be the only ones to be dissatisfied with the design of the other bulky, utilitarian sanitizer stands on the market. What began as a challenge then transformed into an opportunity for growth and responsiveness to market needs. Though Lorin’s anodized aluminum products are typically used for high-end architectural and consumer goods applications, the same characteristics that made them ideal for these uses – lightweight, stable, stylish, and with an extremely durable finish – also made them ideal for the hand sanitizer stands. Lorin pivoted to begin producing more of the sanitizer stands, marketing, selling, and shipping them to customers across the country. We continue to manufacture the coil-anodized aluminum products that Lorin is known for in the architectural, automotive, and consumer goods markets, and now sell the hand sanitizer stands in addition to those product lines.
Even though this particular case of moving into hand sanitizer stand production is specific to Lorin and a moment in history, there are a number of tips and lessons to be learned from this story for other companies looking to practice adaptability in order to maintain profitability during times of market upheaval.
Tips for staying nimble
- Listen to customers: Experts from Lorin are in constant communication with customers, and are always looking for trends in the marketplace. Those trends begin to show where opportunities can take shape, if manufacturers are paying attention. In this particular case, listening to customers also meant listening to the needs within our own company, and extrapolating what other companies in similar positions would need in the current moment of a “new normal” taking shape. More broadly, getting feedback from customers about their expectations and needs, as well as taking a step back to look at the industry in general, can point the way to new opportunities, markets, or ideas.
- Efficiency: Times of upheaval and change require significant efficiencies and attention to business practices. Lorin was careful while implementing this new project to manage cash flow and inventory effectively. What’s more, our consistent practices of looking for opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness made a shift in manufacturing and business practices more feasible as a new revenue stream.
- Opportunities over Challenges: Changing your mindset about what constitutes a challenge and what can become an opportunity helps companies to be able to adjust to changing conditions. Even in this time of market shifts and downturns, leadership at Lorin was focused on how to move forward into new opportunities, not simply how to lock down as much existing business as possible despite market challenges.
- Communication is Key: Both internal and external communication is absolutely necessary to succeeding when manufacturing and business practices must be adapted to meet changing needs. Lorin’s leadership ensured that communication among teams within the company, as well as between the company and its customers, remained robust even during periods of social shutdown and minimal in-person business opportunities. As a company, we focused on maintaining and improving relationships with employees and customers to reinforce connections, source new ideas, and provide support and innovation where necessary. Doing so has meant recognizing that the “new normal” in business is and must be different from prior communication practices, and moving forward with the most effective communication strategies for today’s market, rather than yesterday’s.
- Grit and Determination: Adaptability requires grit to endure difficulty and determination to succeed. Choosing to be a victor rather than a victim of circumstances is critical to finding new paths to success and developing new opportunities as they arise. For Lorin, this has meant a determination to find and create solutions for ourselves and our customers, relying on a network of support among ourselves, suppliers, customers, and end users.
Adapting to new and necessary changes in manufacturing and business practices as market needs shift and change is a critical practice for businesses hoping to endure and succeed in today’s world. Lorin Industries and its production of hand sanitizer stands is a key example of using existing resources and some additional found time during a market shift to develop new opportunities. Lorin’s practices of communication and efficiency, along with mindset shifts towards opportunities and determination, can help any company to find new ways forward in this changing world.