As part of our 'Stay Safe, Support Local, Love East Lothian' campaign, we've been talking to range of East Lothian businesses who have had to adapt to keep trading during the COVID-19 crisis.
It’s more important now, than ever before, to support our local businesses.
Here we talk to Paul Urquhart of the Musselburgh-based Paragon Group, which has seen unprecedented demand for products and services including orders for disinfectants, hand sanitisers and personal protective equipment.
Q. Tell us what your business is?
A. Paragon Group. We provide cleaning and hygiene solutions to clients across the UK.
Q. How long has the business been running?
A. Since 1988. We’re a family owned and run business, with over 30 years' experience helping clients implement clean, hygienic, and safe solutions.
Q. What effect did the pandemic have on your business?
A. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic resulted in an unprecedented surge in demand for our products and services. Orders for disinfectants, hand sanitisers, personal protective equipment were off the charts. We became a seven-day-a-week operation, taking and fulfilling orders as fast as we could manage.
Q. What did you do to adapt to these challenges?
A. We’ve always been careful to build strong links with our suppliers. That robust supply chain meant we could secure critical stock and continue to fulfill orders, even at the height of lockdown. We also expanded our supplier network, adding partners to ensure a reliable flow of the chemicals and equipment required to tackle COVID-19. At one stage, we chartered a British Airways cargo flight from China to get a consignment of face masks into our warehouse on time, ready for onward delivery. Talk about going the extra mile...
Q. What does the immediate future look like for your business? Will some of the changes be permanent? Are you thinking of further ways to adapt?
A. The pandemic isn’t over. As businesses adapt to the situation, there’s an acute need for advice as well as solutions. We hope to be an accurate, dependable source of information, in addition to supplying products and services. Hygiene is at the forefront of people’s minds and maintaining clean and safe environments is a fundamental step in restarting the economy. We’re committed to helping our customers reopen and rebuild in this challenging environment.
Q. Have you had any support from East Lothian Council that you’d like to highlight?
A. We’ve benefitted hugely from the East Lothian Economic Development programme. In particular, we received support with a warehouse expansion several years ago. This proved invaluable during our busy pandemic period; the additional capacity meant we could continue to fulfill orders despite the surge in demand.