Imagine this: just as you’re about to start an exciting new job, a global pandemic hits. It’s safe to say that it’s been a wild ride for Michael Marquardt, our German Sales and End User Marketing Manager, for whom this unlikely scenario became reality a few months ago. In this blog, Michael tells us about his experience so far, and shares how he sees customers recovering from the effects of COVID-19 on their business
When I signed my contract at TenCate Protective Fabrics, I had no way of knowing that just a few weeks later, COVID-19 lockdown measures would roll out across Europe — closing offices and leaving me to start my new job at home.
I was amazed at how the HR and IT teams bent over backwards to quickly arrange everything I needed to set up my home office. Even as lockdown restrictions peaked in Germany, they managed to get everything delivered on time for me to start work on April 1.
Thankfully, I had been able to meet some of my future colleagues during the quarterly international sales team meeting in March, right before I joined in an official capacity. That helped me put some faces to names. Without exception, all of them were very engaged in catching me up to speed through digital onboarding. Even though some of the tools TenCate Protective Fabrics uses for remote collaboration were new to me, I caught on quickly. In the last few months, I’ve noticed that staying flexible and cultivating an attitude of curiosity has served me just as much as the industry expertise I’ve brought to this job from my 10 years in textiles.
Helping our customers get back to business
Some of the COVID-19 measures are easing in Germany now, so I was able to make my first visits to a few of our German customers last week!
"After so much time at home, it would be an understatement to say that it was a pleasure to get in the car, turn on some music, and drive away with no small children in the backseat."
All jokes aside, the biggest pleasure is to finally meet our customers and find out how TenCate Protective Fabrics can help them as they get back to business. Since we serve a diverse range of industries with our products, we have yet to find a one-fits-all solution to smooth out the path ahead in their new reality. Our customers in the health care sector have been through an intense boom with the high demand for fabrics to create masks and surgical gowns, while our customers in the steel, automotive, or utility industries dramatically reduced their onsite work in the past months.
The one commonality uniting our customers is the uncertainty they face as they attempt to take stock of the impact on their business and plan strategically for the near future. We see that accurate forecasting is very difficult for them at the moment, but we’re doing our best to plan production so that we’re prepared to supply them in the event of increased demand. In the Netherlands, for instance, TenCate Protective Fabrics has collaborated on a reusable medical gown designed to solve PPE shortages in hospitals in the event of a second COVID-19 wave. There’s interest in Germany for this solution, as well.
How has COVID-19 affected our sales approach?
Because we prize agility as a company, we’re allowing the current climate to shape TenCate Protective Fabrics’ approach to sales. Our top priority is to give our customers (and ultimately, our end users) the information they need to tackle the risk management challenges they’re now facing. We’re committed to sharing our expertise wherever it’s helpful.
"At the end of the day, that’s what my new role as German End User Marketing Manager is all about — empowering our end users to perform their work confidently and safely, thanks to the right protective workwear."
I’m very proud to have joined TenCate Protective Fabrics at such a pivotal moment in time, and I look forward to the work we have ahead of us!