SC Biz News is speaking with small businesses and community leaders about the impact of the new coronavirus on business and industry, and how this is changing how they operate.
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While many businesses struggle to stay afloat, Harlan Joelson said things have been extremely busy at Warren Fastenings South.
The company provides wholesale fasteners and components, including brackets, casters, clamps, clips and drill bits.
“The product that we sell is essential to the community, either for manufacturing, maintenance or repair,” said Joelson, the company’s COO. “For a breadth of different industries, from health care to military, construction or automotive, we hold things together in the economy, no pun intended.”
With many customers now practicing social distancing, sales have primarily shifted to online platforms, such as the company’s website or through eBay and Amazon. Joelson said the company’s internet sales have grown more than 50% in the past three weeks, which has helped mitigate losses from local orders. Sales have been strong on the commercial and residential sides, he said.
“With many people being furloughed at home, businesses are purchasing things online, and individuals who know they’ll be home for two to three weeks are thinking about fixing that deck they never got around to,” Joelson said. “People are going to fix things before they buy new things when there’s a recession.”
Staff structures at the company have changed to accommodate the increase in demand. Joelson said that while more vulnerable staff members with pre-existing health conditions have been assigned to work from home, more employees have been moved to the warehouse to assist with fulfilling orders.
At any given time, Warren Fastenings South carries about $2 million worth of inventory at their North Charleston warehouse. Ensuring that they have several months’ supply on hand has helped the company continue operations, Joelson said.
“We want to be a solution to the supply side challenges in our community,” Joelson said “Because we sell integral parts, we have a social obligation to remain open.”