Episode 8: Managing rapid growth

Liam Dann
New Zealand Herald Business Editor at Large
22 MIN

For some SMEs COVID-19 presented an opportunity for rapid growth, but like many businesses who experience a surge in demand, there can be a number of growing pains along the way. For Kenneth Leong, Co-Founder and Director of face masks company Meo, the global pandemic saw product demand go through the roof – and managing supply, demand, and logistics proved extremely challenging. For Simon Furness from online meat retailer Hyper Meat the ‘mates helping mates’ mantra inspired an opportunity to combine his existing business with another in a few days – launching a new online platform which generated a stream of demand that they weren’t quite prepared for. Hear how they navigated these challenges by leveraging their networks, motivating their staff, and collaborating with other businesses – and the lessons they learned which are helping position them for long-term, sustainable growth. 

The guests featured in this podcast are sharing their own views and experiences. As this podcast is for general information purposes only, content should not be relied upon as professional advice.  Always get your own independent advice that takes into account your personal situation. If you’d like to access a transcript of this podcast, you can view it online at blog.bnz.co.nz/podcasts

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Transcript

Liam Dann:

This podcast brings together two innovative businesses to discuss how they’ve navigated change since lockdown, what they learned, and how they are looking to the future. In this episode, we speak to Kenneth Leong, Co-Founder and Director of face mask company MEO, and Simon Furness from online retailer Hyper Meat.

LD:

For some SME businesses, COVID-19 presented an opportunity for rapid growth as demand for certain products and services soared. But with that came a number of logistical and supply chain challenges. Hear how two businesses leveraged their networks, motivated their staff, and collaborated with other businesses to position their companies for long-term sustainable success. I’mLiam Dann, New Zealand Herald Business Editor at Large. Welcome to BNZ Connect SME.

LD:

The guests featured in this podcast are sharing their own views and experiences. As this podcast is for general information purposes only, content should not be relied upon as professional advice. Always get your own independent advice that considers your personal situation. If you’d like to access a transcript of this podcast, you can view it online at blog.bnz.co.nz/podcasts.

LD:

With me I have Kenneth Leong, Director at Healthy Breath behind the MEO brand masks, and Simon Furness from Hyper Meat. Hi guys. Thanks for being here.

Simon Furness:

Hello.

Kenneth Leong:

Hi.

LD:

So look, can I start just by getting a little bit of background about your businesses. Ken, if I start with you, you were already a mask company going into this. That seems on face value like you were pretty well-positioned for this COVID scenario.

KL:

Sure. Sure. Although, look, no one would have expected this sort of a situation. We did start the business about three and a half years ago. And so I was a co-founder and our audience really was offshore. We were looking at creating a product for the offshore markets to address pollution. So this came as a little bit of a surprise, but we were well-positioned because we had an infrastructure in place and supply chain. So yeah, we were at the right time at right place I guess.

LD:

So what was the initial idea? The initial idea was like a New Zealand branded product into the Asian market where some of the big cities with pollution mask wearing is quite common and normal?

KL:

Absolutely. So around the world there are a number of cities, largely in Asia where mask use is prevalent. So there’s an existing mask use culture and people wear masks for a number of reasons, for example, to protect themselves from air pollution. In other situations, it’s about the protecting people around them and some people wear it as a fashion accessory.

LD:

So you were pretty much an export business at that point.

KL:

Absolutely. So historically New Zealand made up less than 5% of our revenues. So going into COVID, we didn’t expect the domestic sales to increase dramatically, but what we’ve seen in recent months is that there’s been a massive escalation in New Zealand domestic sales.

LD:

So Ken, there’s a lot of masks on the market right now obviously, but what is it about MEO that is different and distinctly a New Zealand product?

KL:

Sure, sure. Look, I mean, literally, I mean, hundreds if not thousands of face masks are on the market today, actually even pre-COVID. And for us, we started this journey from the perspective of a customer. So the founders actually, so me, David Gao, I mean, we travel quite a bit. And so we use these products from time to time. And so we saw a gap in the market. The problem with face masks is that they’re invariably boring. They’re typically white or blue. So we thought, okay, look, we wanted to come up with something a bit more fashionable, but has to be functional. So a lot of products out there are also not actually not very good, right? So we wanted to come up with a product that provided adequate protection, but at the same time it’s comfortable to wear.

KL:

So what makes us unique is that by using the wool filter, we’ve managed to create a product that’s highly breathable because one of the biggest complaints we get from face mask wearers is that when they have the mask on, they can’t breathe. So that’s quite problematic, especially for kids and older people. So we’ve come up with a kid’s range, for example, face masks are typically too big for kids. And so we thought, okay, look, why not create a product that’s designed for kids? So that product has seen a significant demand as well. So the whole New Zealand brand story is pretty essential for us. I mean, we’re a New Zealand business and we pride ourselves in being Kiwi. And so the New Zealand wool story is an integral part of that overall brand architecture.

LD:

Sure. And so we’ll come back to that, but first Simon, you guys set up what is an online premium meat delivery company, but there’s a bit of back story there, right? There was a couple of companies that came together to make this happen?

SF:

Yeah. Well, so we’ve been operating an online model essentially for the last, probably 10 years. And when COVID kind of came along and the lockdown sort of became quite eminent, we got together with some friends of ours who had a meat processing plant at Mount Wellington. And we came up with this idea, literally, I think on about the 26th of March, built a website pretty much within two days and put it together and called it Hyper Meat.

LD:

So they were like premium meat product, luxury kind of thing?

SF:

Yeah. So these guys, the company’s called Neat Meat. And so they had a really great brand in the meat market, essentially. And yeah, we just combined the two together and-

LD:

So what was the online sales for Hyper Ride beforehand? What was that focus?

SF:

Well, Hyper Ride is an action sports sort of business that sell, surfing and skateboarding and all that sort of stuff. And once the lockdown came, we basically, even though we could take orders and so forth online, we just couldn’t actually ship anything. So we were basically, we weren’t able to do anything. And then obviously, the meat part, when we looked at the meat really quickly, obviously meat, and it was an essential item of food. And so, yeah, it was just kind of leveraging the database we had in our Hyper Ride and Hyper Drive businesses and then plugging it into the meat processing plant and coming up with this Hyper Meat thing.

LD:

So really it was the social connection there that brought those two together. I mean, I guess you could have looked around a range of products, but.

SF:

Yes. The thing with the meat guys is they were pretty much going to lose potentially fifty percent of their business overnight with all the restaurants closing down and so forth. And so that just meant that they were really concerned about what they were going to do and having a direct-to-consumer kind of approach was definitely going to make a big difference to how we could keep going. And yeah, it’s been really interesting.

LD:

Sure. Look, let’s just jump back there and to carry on that theme. So sometime in late March, you guys and the Neat Meat guys realised that this was a problem, right?

SF:

We were sitting around having a beer, I think it was at the end of the day. Their factory is not far from one of our buildings. And so we were just sitting there and having a beer and we were like, there’s got to be some opportunity here between the two of us. Like, how do we make this work? And yeah, literally within two days we built a website and got it going and created all the products, created some meat packs, came up with some ideas and what we’re doing, and we were off.

LD:

Sure. I just want to come back to you, Ken, on this a little bit. So you guys must have seen COVID building as well. Did it become apparent fairly quickly that there was going to be an explosion in demand for the masks?

KL:

It wasn’t initially immediately apparent. So if I look back to January, which was when this initially the pandemic started, the first wave did take us by surprise. It started in China. Now we have staff on the ground. We have factories in China and in New Zealand. So it was around this Chinese New Year period. And so we had a great difficulty, I recall at that point with our supply chain because a lot of the raw components come from a number of different suppliers around China and the Chinese government acted swiftly to shut things down.

KL:

Now, of course, I mean, there are downstream effects and we did experience supply chain disruption across the board. So I recall, I mean, at that point we were frantically trying to get everyone, raw materials, getting our entire operation kick-started. This was during Chinese New Year, which is traditionally like a slow period. Everyone is off on holiday and just getting the right people together at our base in Xiamen, was in itself a challenge. So we moved pretty quickly because it became apparent that mask demand would soar.

KL:

Now, again, I mean, we didn’t expect how significant the increase would be, but as it turns out, demand outstriped supply for us at least 10 times. I mean, as in if we had it perhaps even a hundred times more masks available for sale, we would sell out. So it was that frantic. So we escalated production, and at our factory in Auckland, we immediately hired 20 people on the ground and just started effectively packing. Now we were quite fortunate in that we did have a little bit of buffer stock, now not enough, but at least we had some stock. So that was the first wave.

KL:

Now, again, in February, no one expected the pandemic to go global, right? So we thought, okay, look, China had it under control. We did sell a lot of masks, but we didn’t expect this thing to just completely get out of hand. So we stocked up now. The supply chain disruptions caused massive problems. Air freight became extremely expensive. So I think from memory perhaps five, six times more than what one would normally pay. And so we had to quite quickly get product together, ship out. Now again, I mean, we shipped to 70 countries around the world, so we were trying to get product out as well, which was extremely challenging.

KL:

So in February, March, again, I mean the domestic mask use did not pick up yet because as you would recall for months, experts debated as to whether masks were effective. Now, for us, we knew because of our extensive experience across Asia, and we’ve seen what happened with SARS. We know that masks work. Now, but of course I’m not a doctor, right. So, but the inherently, the Chinese community, the Asian community actually just inherently knew that masks do work. Now, of course, I mean, months after that and August 12th finally, New Zealand Government announced, okay, look, everyone should don masks, but I wonder what took us so long.

LD:

Yeah. So essentially the big problem was not demand, it’s supply and logistics problems.

KL:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Now keeping in mind pre-COVID, there were probably only a handful and we’d likely be the largest New Zealand mask manufacturer. So this space was unusual. I mean, who make masks, and especially based in New Zealand where there’s next to no air pollution. So pre-COVID, this was an extremely unusual business to do out of New Zealand. So again, I mean, I think for me personally, I feel in business a lot of the time it’s really about luck, is really about being the right time or right place. And for us it feels like that was the case. I mean, we had infrastructure in place. We had channels around the world and if we started mask business today, it’d be a bit of a struggle. Right. Like getting everything up and running. But for us, I mean, we were able to capitalise on the opportunity because we did all the groundwork in the years prior.

LD:

Sure. Simon, for you guys, how was the logistics side, the actual distributing? You got your website up and running, but from there, was getting the meat product out to people a smooth process?

SF:

No. Short answer. A nightmare. No, I mean, yeah. So we learned pretty quickly that meat, that perishable products in a courier van don’t last very long. Yeah. So there’s a lot to learn around that. People were saying, “Whoa,  I live in Waiheke Island and I want to get one of your meat packs.” And we were like, “Yeah, we’d really like to send you one, but it’s going to take three days on the current courier system and it’s probably not going to be in the best shape by the time it arrives.” So yeah, there was a lot to kind of figure out around that. And of course at that time, the courier system was pretty much virtually non-existent for anything non-essential. So you’re finding that you had spots around the country that certain courier vans would only be going there once a week because they didn’t have enough freight to take every day. And so a meat pack in the back of a courier van for weeks, never a good sign. It would smell.

LD:

Sure. So there’s demand probably outstripping your ability to supply, to start with.

SF:

Yeah, but also just the logistics of actually getting it around the country. But yeah, there was definitely demand went from zero to like off the charts almost overnight. We were sitting there going, holy heck, what have we done? We’ve turned on this sort of switch of demand. And we started to add more products to it as well. So we started to add like things to go with the meat packs and bits and pieces. And we were partnering with a whole lot of and we still do partner with a whole lot of other people around, helping them. Like we had drink companies saying, Oh, look, I can’t sell any of my drinks in cafes or restaurants any longer. Can I put them on your website? And so it became this real like sort of thing where we just looked at people we knew and the whole ethos around it was that they had to be a mate of one of us. And that’s kind of where it kept going through sort of mates helping mates.

LD:

So you’re sort of networking wider and wider as you go.

SF:

Yeah, totally. Yeah.

LD:

Tell us how you got on top of that sort of logistics with the couriers. Did you just grow as the sector sort of?

SF:

Yeah, so we were really lucky because we have quite a strong relationship with some of the courier guys already in our existing online business. And so we sat down with the guys from Urgent Couriers pretty quickly in the piece. And in Auckland, we were able to do an Urgent Courier service basically from Orewa, which is just North of Auckland down to Pukekohe. So you could order, I think it’s 12 o’clock midday for delivery that night. And so those guys were really keen to keep working with us. And so we sort of having those existing relationships was really important and everyone really, really helpful and just super keen to kind of work with you and give you as much help as they possibly could.

LD:

Sure. Ken, just to come back to you. So we came out of that first lockdown, there’s a constant sort of a shift in the lockdown status of countries around the world, isn’t there? I mean, how have those few months been for the business? Has it been steady and constant the demand?

KL:

Growing. And so the customers around the world continue to order product, right? So there are a number of factors that affect mask use, right? And of course, I mean public health announcements and so forth is a huge driver, but not the only one. I mean, people depend on social media, they look at what their friends are doing, and news from offshore. So we saw demand increase out of Victoria actually. And in the US, demand out of the US has increased significantly as well. So when we look at the global sales, I mean, overall of course, I mean, we’ve seen a significant increase, but I guess the profile of that demand actually changes all the time.

KL:

And this makes it actually quite tricky to manage, because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I mean, with Auckland’s second lockdown, we didn’t have even 24 hours’ notice. Right. It happened pretty much immediately. So there was a round of panic buying. I mean, that actually literally crashed our website that night. And so basically it becomes so important to actually hold sufficient buffer stock, because you just don’t know when the next wave will hit. Now for me, I mean, personally, I know a lot of people are banking on a vaccine and there’s some sort of good news stories coming out. I do hope they find a vaccine soon, but I just feel that it’ll take us awhile.

KL:

And so I’m fairly optimistic in terms of mask use. I think the general population will become more and more accepting of mask use. So not just in countries where a mask use is entrenched, but also in other places around the world. In much the same way, hand hygiene has changed, and now people are a lot more aware of hand hygiene. Similarly, I think for at least the next couple of years people would continue even I mean, COVID will pass, but people will continue wearing face masks on airplanes.

LD:

Because I mean, that trend certainly since SARS has been in place in a lot of big Asian countries, in Mainland China.

KL:

Absolutely, 100%. Yeah. So, China learnt from SARS, you look at Hong Kong and Singapore and so forth. The countries that experienced SARS, they know that masks work. So people have supplies of face masks at home. So for us, I mean, face masks are very foreign to New Zealanders. And even now, I mean, most people would prefer not to wear them. And that’s why, I mean, we came up with a range that’s a little bit more fashionable, it’s comfortable to wear, it’s easy to breathe through. And so we dealt with the pain points. We took some time to understand why people don’t like wearing masks and we solve that problem.

LD:

Sure. Massive growth though. I mean, when you look at it internally from like how you’re coping inside the business, how do you deal with that level of growth?

KL:

So, look, I think for us, I mean, just as a mark of how bullish we are, we have decided to reinvest our profits from this massive upsurge into increasing capacity and new product development. And we’ve already spent quite a bit of money to get our supply chain in order to try to cope with growing demand. So we’re very optimistic in terms of the future of the business. And we’re coming up with new products, so different types of face masks, from flagship sort of like a reusable refilter to face mask to disposable ones, just the whole range.

LD:

Simon, sort of same question for you. I mean, it’s from a slightly different perspective, but from a standing start there a lot of growth quickly. Were you internally geared up to cope with that? How did you deal with that kind of rapid growth?

SF:

Yeah. So we have about 35 people that work for us in our existing business. So we sort of, during the lockdown, they were sort of repurposed, I guess, into doing more stuff for us in the Hyper Meat part of what we do. So we sort of had a capacity within the organization to be able to deal with it all, but yeah, that rapid kind of scale up growth is always pretty challenging when you’re going from sort of zero. It’s just interesting, I think we sort of have found that our staff especially have been quite invigorated by it. They’ve enjoyed having something else to look at and be involved in.

SF:

So yeah, when the second Auckland lockdown hit, that really made a big, like the demand surged again. People just, I guess, started to panic a little bit more and sort of worry about when they were going to be able to go to the supermarket next and stuff like that. And a bit like what Ken has been saying around demand and things you end up, you’re not sure when it’s going to hit. So you sort of, you’re kind of gearing up all the time thinking, Oh yeah, this might happen or that might happen. So yeah, there was some challenges definitely.

LD:

I mean, when you look out each time when you sort of have these various levels of lockdown, there’s sort of some immediate surge, but there is also an extent, I guess, to which people talk about the tech acceleration around COVID and that the world has moved more online. So do you see this as a longer-term sustainable business once we’re sort of through the lockdown phase?

SF:

Yeah. I mean, we obviously fairly heavily invested in online in our other parts of our business. So in our Hyper Drive business. So we sell tires and car product and stuff online, and we’ve seen a massive surge in how that’s grown and our Hyper Ride business is same again, I mean, it’s 100% online selling action sports gear. So that’s accelerated the growth quite significantly. And I think there’s a real trend away from people wanting to go to a mall and getting stuff done online is just, it’s definitely where it’s kind of going.

LD:

I guess it’s again, a bit of a cultural shift, like the mask wearing that the world is going through. Maybe was heading in that direction anyway, but has certainly-

SF:

Yeah, I mean, in retail, I mean, you’ve seen online growing faster than any other channel, right. So this has really just put the accelerator down in terms of like driving people to basically purchase online and so forth. And so, we’ve used the time to continually try and improve what we do online and that gets leveraged across all the different channels that we’ve got. So we’re constantly trying to do stuff to make the experience better and make it more seamless for people. Yeah. There’s just a constant state of improvement, I guess. And so, if there’s been one good thing that’s come out of the lockdown, I guess it’s having our staff sort of focused on doing stuff that you probably wouldn’t normally do in the day-to-day sort of environment.

KL:

Yes. I agree with what Simon said about staff being invigorated with  growth and  you survive under adrenaline. And when the demand took off and our staff, they were under tremendous pressure to get product out the door and in the face of various significant challenges, logistical challenges, supply challenges, customer demand, and met. Customers getting upset, they’ve been waiting for two weeks and can’t get products. So the challenges can seem quite daunting, but in a way, actually the whole team rose to the challenge and it was really good for the business. People felt they could contribute more. People did things that they wouldn’t normally do as Simon said. And I just, basically, all hands on deck, everyone contributed and we’re a better business for it.

LD:

Sure. I mean, it’s interesting, isn’t it? It seems like people got worries at home. They’ve got to manage the kids. They’ve got all sorts of things to worry about, but if there was an excuse to maintain momentum in your business, that that was something that staff could really focus on and added something.

SF:

Totally. That’s exactly right. I think when you’ve got a business that’s actually going and growing and you’re looking at different ways of operating, staff do get a bit of a sense of that. And they’d love being part of it.

LD:

And have you found, you mentioned the mates concept and extending that out. I mean, has it been a friendly, open business environment? I mean, I hear something about the business community around you. Has it helped?

SF:

Yeah, I think so. I mean, we were obviously trying to work with friendly parties. Initially it was all about just trying to work with people that we knew and people that had similar sort of challenges to us. And at the time, obviously nobody really knew what was going to happen. Were we going to be in lockdown for four weeks or were we going to be in lockdown for 12 months? So it was all about trying to pivot, I guess, is the awful word.

LD:

Word of the year.

SF:

Word of the year. Yeah.

LD:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, look, I’ll be interested to get some thoughts from you both, if you were giving other business people advice about how to cope with this kind of, sort of seismic shift in your business, are there some tips or things that you would suggest for people?

KL:

I think it’s very important to remain positive. Look, I mean when you look on Facebook and LinkedIn sometimes, and you see the number of people who are negative or complaining or finding things that are wrong with whatever, it can really drag you down. So it’s actually being positive. And I think that sense of passion and positivity is contagious. And if we can get the entire team to think positively and be thankful. I mean, it’s difficult to do in the current environment, but being positive and remaining optimistic in the face of these challenges I think that is something that we need more of.

LD:

Sure.

SF:

One thing that we’ve sort of found is like being able to have some time to go through your business almost with a fine-tooth comb and look at things that you’re spending money on, things that you’re actually doing that you’ve maybe have just done because you’ve done it for 20 years or you’ve done it for whatever reason. And I’m looking at some of those costs and sort of seeing, do I really need those things in trimming your business up and like tuning it up as much as you possibly can because ultimately, we are going to come out of this at some stage. And those businesses that are really well-tuned and running really well and have a really good cost sort of structure are going to be the ones that are going to accelerate in, yeah.

SF:

And to Ken’s point as well, you think you need to kind of look at what are the opportunities here, as opposed to what are all the negative things. And because there is a lot of opportunities out there, but you’ve just got to be prepared to make some changes and do some things differently. And we’ve certainly learnt a heck of a lot in the last period. It’s just been really, really interesting.

LD:

It’s kind of a pressure cooker, isn’t it? Because some of the things that you’ve talked about and some of the things that other businesses in the series have talked about, we’re doing the things that maybe were on a list to be done at some point down the line, expand here, but suddenly COVID happened and you didn’t have time to sort of delay, procrastinate, whatever. It was do it all do it now.

SF:

Yeah. No, totally. You know, I remember sitting down in a meeting in the end of January, early February, I think it was. And it was this discussion about supply chain, and that was our big concern, like where are we going to be able to get product from our suppliers overseas and stuff like that. And we were like, Oh yeah, that sort of looks like it’s going to be a potential issue. And then three weeks later, we were closed. So that wasn’t really the issue.

KL:

I think the other thing to consider is our ability to stomach risks, because you know, we often hear people say, be fearful when others are greedy, be greedy when others are fearful. But in reality, when the time comes for you to take those risks, often we hold back, we are fearful. I mean, in the present environment, we don’t know what the future holds. And so by nature people typically, I mean, a lot of business owners would hold back and just hunker down, wait and see. It’s difficult to make those choices, but if we’re able to bite the bullet, take those risks, then quite possibly we would appreciate having made that decision.

LD:

Yeah. I mean, are there anything that you guys, if you look back, if you could go back six months, that you would do differently this time?

SF:

No lockdown? There’s probably a lot of little things that you would do. I mean, I wrote down, I mean, all coming into the second lockdown I wrote down, what were the things that we learned from the first lockdown and what did we do that we shouldn’t do this time? And yeah, there’s definitely some stuff. I mean, like Ken was saying, there’s so many things that are unknown and there’s so much uncertainty. It’s almost day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month because you can’t really, we don’t know if we’re going to be in another lockdown in six weeks time. I guess, no one really knows quite what’s going to happen. So you’ve just got to be in a position where you can kind of adapt and move in kind of in-between things, as you keep going.

SF:

I was talking to a friend the other day and they’ve got like an event business. And I mean, they can’t plan for any events. They’re sitting there and going, will we do this event or we do that event, but they don’t know if they’re going to be able to do any of them. But they’re looking at their business and going, okay, what have we got in our business that we can actually do that’s going to make a difference, or that we can maybe change into something else? And I think that’s kind of how you’ve got to kind of approach this environment.

KL:

I’ve been asked this question a number of times, right? What would you do differently if you could turn back the clock? Three words, make more masks. No, I mean, joking aside, I mean, the thing is, I think for a lot of companies, we have been doing this whole just in time inventory thing, right? So understand, I mean, the need to actually reduce working capital pressure and keep as little stock as possible. But I think as a result of this, we would re-evaluate how much stock we hold. And perhaps prices might need to increase a little bit to make up for that increase, but having buffer stock, I think is going to be a key consideration and also operating your business in a sustainable manner. You know, thinking, planning long-term, not just kind of day-by-day. Now, of course I mean, I’m not saying it’s easy, that’s the sort of thinking, being strategic thinking long-term around a number of these financial metrics is essential.

LD:

When we look at horizons, it’s interesting, isn’t it? It’s that midterm is the really uncertainty as in you kind of need to be flexible and adaptable in a day-to-day business and then have a long-term strategic horizon. And then you’ve got this fuzzy area in between that you just sort of have to live with and business right now.

KL:

You definitely do. Yeah. No two days are the same. Yeah. That’s for sure.

LD:

We’d like to finish off with a bit of inspiration, maybe starting with you, Simon, can you give me an example of a business or business leader that’s really inspired you through this period?

SF:

Well, mine’s pretty a little bit different. I think when I look at what has been quite inspiring, it’s actually most of the small to medium-sized businesses in New Zealand that have actually had to adapt and make some changes. I look at like my local cafe up the road, overnight they basically turned on an online channel, stuff like that. And I think it’s remarkable how people can actually change when they have to change or adapt to some change being necessary. So you’ve got high-end restaurants that are delivering food to you. You’ve got all sorts of stuff and that’s been really inspiring.

LD:

We’ve heard some fantastic stories here too. And it’s just certainly is the case that New Zealand businesses have done amazing things. Ken, how about you, a business that inspires?

KL:

Just a shout out to my mate, Eric Chua at The Cookie Project, and The Cookie Project is a social enterprise that employs disabled Kiwis to make cookies. So my friend Eric gave up a high-paying job at a bank and ventured out. And I mean, it’s very inspiring for me because I know how difficult it is to actually make that move. And the work that they’re doing, helping disabled people I think it’s just inspiring.

LD:

That’s great guys. I mean, that’s some really inspirational stuff and really this is the last of a series of podcasts where we’ve heard some really incredible stories about businesses adapting and changing to cope with this crisis. And it’s a remarkable thing. So look, thanks a lot. And thanks for being here.

KL:

You’re welcome. Thanks for having us.

SF:

Thanks.

LD:

This Connect SME Podcast was brought to you by BNZ in association with the Business Herald. Subscribe to the series to hear more stories of SME businesses who have navigated sudden change as a result of COVID-19. Hear about the decisions they made and the lessons they learned along the way. The resources, links, and transcripts of this podcast can be found at blog.bnz.co.nz/podcasts.

Liam Dann
New Zealand Herald Business Editor at Large
Liam Dann is one of the country’s most respected business journalists and has been a business editor for the New Zealand Herald for more than 10 years. He writes opinion and commentary covering markets, economics and politics and is host of the weekly Economy Hub video show.