Despite of extraordinary circumstances caused by the global pandemic, Activlab Ltd. keeps all necessary precautions and remains fully operational. We have implemented additional procedures to make sure that we can fully support our partners and fulfill our obligations. We’ve intensified our online activity throughout our online channels and social media.

In an interview with Bogusław Achinger, we talk about opportunities for large organization to quickly adapt to new conditions and the future of the food and dietary supplement industry after the crisis.

Customer needs are a fundamental concern for any enterprise. Today, clients ask the question: are we able to operate as usual (given the circumstances) and be able to provide them with what they need?

We operate at the highest speed, so we can execute orders on time. Since the epidemic outbreak, we have closely monitored the situation in Poland and in the world. It helped us to take appropriate actions and be one step ahead of official announcements and recommendations. First of all, we took care of the health of our employees, by introducing special procedures to ensure staff safety, which helped the production work normally.

In this case, it’s important to properly plan production process and its continuity. It’s a matter of carefully structured schedule and flexibility. Our supply chain is functioning well, despite external difficulties. In my opinion the right choice of carriers is crucial here – we work with the proven and largest ones on the market. As long-term partners, we are assured that our orders are prioritized.

Partnership and long-term business relationships are invaluable to the company. Despite the current situation, is Regis able to maintain current projects and undertake new ones?

We do our best to maintain normal production process and so far, we have succeeded in that matter. We are supplied with most of the raw materials – we stocked up between December and January. When it comes to new projects, we are able to respond customer needs on a regular basis. Currently, the market is demanding products containing vitamins – that’s why our R&D department has already introduced new proposals, such as water-soluble vitamin C with zinc.

The good attitude and focus on production continuity comes from the employees themselves. Thanks to their determination and patience, having in mind this extraordinary situation, I can say that the company is functioning above expectations.

Regis is a large, thriving company, that has been functioning on the market for years. In your opinion, was the company well prepared for the crisis?

Both in financial and technological-organizational terms, we were able to introduce the necessary security measures in advance. Indeed, we have experience, since many procedures have been practiced in the most difficult conditions even before pandemic.

Years ago a local river poured out near our factory. Despite considerable difficulties, having provided the factory with independent power supply, we maintained order processing without a major issues. You can never be fully prepared for crises, but with each one, both people and the organization learn how to adjust and be flexible

We produce food and dietary supplements and (as it’s commonly known) special precautions are required in this industry. What restrictions have been introduced during the pandemic in the laboratory, production area and the company building?

Right now – masks, protective gowns and gloves are standard equipment for production and laboratory employees. We have introduced special safety procedures such us: a minimum two-meter distance between workplaces and shift work system. Moreover, we have introduced a mandatory temperature check for all employees starting a shift. Except of the members of the quality control team, no one can enter production rooms (including management).

95% of our office employees perform their tasks fully remotely. We monitor our crew’s health and make every effort to work normally, despite the extraordinary circumstances. As a manufacturer of dietary supplements and vitamins, we feel that it’s our duty to supply our employees with sets of vitamins that increase immunity, including vitamin C, zinc and acerola.

Unfortunately, not all actions can be adapted to the virtual world. Aren’t you worried that something may not be prepared on time, or that the inability to contact client directly will be a problem in terms of further development?

Online communication make remote business operations possible, and as we can see it’s happening all over the world. Our sales representatives have continuous virtual contact with the customer. The  Board of Directors stays in constant touch with our partners’ management, informing them about the continuity of deliveries.

Of course, nothing can replace personal contact, whether in customer relations or among employees, but our partners are as now careful as we are. After all, we all care about health and slowing the spread of the dangerous virus.

Currently, we can all forget about trade fairs and industry events in the foreseeable future. That’s why we keep in touch with our clients through our website and social media.

Is home office possible for employees who work with individual clients?

Remote work is going well and we are met with big understanding. Some of our employees admit that they work even more efficiently than usual.

Is it enjoyable and sustainable in the long run? We should ask our employees, who are parents of young children. Now, they are combining professional, child-caring and educational responsibilities in (often) small spaces. I have to repeat it again: it is thanks to their persistence and ability to adapt to difficult conditions that we are able to work well as a company.

Talking about online channels, are individual clients more likely to use e-commerce now?

We have all moved online now, and above all to mobile channels (including our clients). We have noticed an increase in sales of vitamins and nutritional products. Customers are also more likely to choose this form of shopping, out of concern for their own safety.

Will the dietary supplement market be affected by the crisis?

It can’t be denied − we will all be affected by the crisis, in one way or another. Undoubtedly, uncertain times do not increase purchases as a whole, and consumers − having satisfied their basic needs − are now less inclined to buy second order products. What’s more, restrictions imposed on us made us spend time less actively as we used to. Gyms, fitness clubs and swimming pools are currently closed. I expect that as soon as the situation normalizes, we will all want our old life back.

I think in the times of crisis − creativity, new product forms and service are things we can expect. If events and fairs cannot be organized in real life, maybe someone will come up with an interesting alternative?

What about the food industry after a pandemic?

I think that regardless of the industry, there are some things that will always be the same. Customer trust is built over the years and that trust is the foundation of a strong business. With long-term partnerships, it is easier to cope with a crisis and get out of it faster. Another thing is transparency. Sometimes difficult decisions are necessary − every company faces them sooner or later. If we maintain transparent communication in with our partners, we have a chance of maintaining cooperation smoothly. And one more thing: I believe that the way company acts during the crisis will be remembered for a long time after. Therefore, it’s important to remain calm and act with empathy, regardless of difficulties and time pressure.

Will pandemic teach us a lesson? For sure – openness, ingenuity, perseverance and flexibility. I am impressed how our Activlab Pharma department quickly adapted to our client’s needs. Finally, I feel that we can always rely on valuable relationships, both with business partners and our employees.

boguslaw achinger