Dr. René Pankoke, CEO of Hymmen on COVID-19, economical position, current status of woodworking industry, production, postponement of exhibition and more. Excerpts:
As Coronovirus has already disrupted the worldwide economy, what are your takes on that? Do you think it affects the woodworking industry? What will be the major impact on global woodworking industry?
René Pankoke: As the whole economy is slowing down and is moving toward a recession we must be prepared that also the investment decisions of our customers will slow down. But recently it is very interesting to observe, that some of our customers (e.g. flooring manufacturers) determine an even higher demand for their products. This is due to the fact that now with many people working from home or being in “Kurzarbeit” they have time to renovate their houses. And that is good for our customers and for the woodworking industry in general. And we at Hymmen are engaged to support our customers continuously with our service and spare part delivery concerning their productive machines as well with their new investment projects in machinery and lines.
How does supply chain get affected by this novel COVID-19? Worldwide market is getting shattered by this unexpected crisis. How do you see the market for upcoming six months atleast? To you, what are the economic risks in woodworking industry could COVID-19 raise in future?
René Pankoke: For those European companies that are not dependent on international supply chains it is easier to handle the crisis. That is why Hymmen is happy to have close partnerships with other European companies that produce within Europe.
All the important exhibitions are getting postponed. As, exhibitions are the fastest and greatest platform for the woodworking honchos to promote the latest innovation and connect with people. How do you define this current situation?
René Pankoke: We stay in contact with our customers on a one to one – basis. All our sales experts are in regular contact with them on the phone, on video conferences etc.
Besides we are interested in placing product information in relevant magazines and online-platforms (newsletters, LinkedIn etc.) to emphasis that we are continuously working for the benefit of our customers. We moreover take part in webinares and online summits where possible to promote our latest innovations.
This epidemic will pass one day, but it will leave the world with a broken economic landscape may be more deeper than any previous history of economic disaster. Have you planned anything to overcome the situation?
René Pankoke: We all should take the risk of the epidemic seriously. We cannot prevent the economy from slowing down. But maybe especially because of that we should try to work hard on keeping it moving as good as anyone can. Don´t hide and get passive but try to work as good as possible on remote basis. The more we do this, the easier it will be to catch up with our usual processes after the crisis again. And don´t wait for others to help you but do your own best to help your neighbor, your company and the society as a whole!
At Hymmen we have split our factory into two shifts to reduce any potential issues, and are keeping parts, machine assembly, and engineering running. We are maintaining social distancing along with extra hygiene measures.
Our sales, engineering and service teams are working remotely and from their home office and will continue to keep the dialog going through various share and networking software. Most of our customers are still producing. Thanks to the digitalization of communication and processes we can support our customers in their ongoing production. Besides this we do our best in helping them to push their investment projects forward. We are discussing currently with several customers about new projects in the short run.