Industry Leaders Forum: Lee James, General Manager, Filta

How was 2020 for Filta? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

As for most of our partners 2020 has been a challenging year. COVID has brought about several supply constraints and this, coupled with market uncertainty, has seen us have to adapt fast to ensure we meet our customers’ needs as they changed throughout the year.

Highlights was the voice of the market. It was through these uncertain times that communication with our suppliers and key stakeholders came to the forefront. We were able to action quickly, up our inbounds and or change our supply point, which in-turn allowed us to meet the expectations of our key clients. This led to opportunities for the NZ market based around keeping our essential staff safe and NZ safe.

All though these were many challenges, Filta looked to these as key opportunities and adapted to change that was being asked of us. It was at times exciting and exhausting to be part of the industry at a time when the importance of cleaning and or cleaners was at an all-time high.

We were proud to be an essential supplier to the cleaning industry and the entire team put their hearts and souls into ensuring we were there for our customers.

How did Filta adjust to the impact of the pandemic?

Communication was critical. We adapted to our supply points and changed our strategy around market updates and information. We felt it was crucial to provide accurate and up to date information of stock holding and or inbounds. Post the first lockdown we then looked to sure up stock and look to areas where supply could be impacted and how we could best avoid this for the market.

What will be the immediate focus for Filta in 2021?

The Filta team recognises the market drive for change has rapidly escalated in the past 12 months. We are assessing our supply points and looking to sure up continuity of supply. Inbound freight has become a challenge so this is also a key focus for Filta as we enter Q1 for 2021.

What challenges and opportunities do you see for Filta in 2021?

We enter 2021 with an ear of caution. The pandemic is not over globally, and we are very mindful of this. 2021 will be a year we assess supply points, look to evaluate ranging, and ensure post-COVID in the NZ market we are adaptive and responsive to our clients’ needs, especially should another outbreak occur.

What challenges and opportunities do you see for the industry over the next 12 months?

The key challenge with be supply of core lines for a COVID response should this happen. The market has reacted well throughout 2020 but this has been reactive. 2021 should be proactive and the challenge is to set plans in place to achieve this.

How do you think COVID-19 will impact the cleaning industry in 2021 and beyond?

Sustainability and technology are the obvious discussions topics for all partners, other key topics are those where we challenge the normal practice and or thinking.

COVID has the market evaluating its processes and it’s at this time we can implement key changes to better suit the cleaner, the industry, and the planet.

Looking at the future – both short and long term – what do you see, as far as changes and adjustments, that the global cleaning industry must embrace?

Education. As an industry we need to educate across all levels: end user, supplier, account manager and procurement lead. Filta believe all these parties have an impact on how the market perceives cleaning and cleaners.

There are several layers to this with online training, training days, e-books and videos all playing a part in the upskilling of the industry. Yes, we need to use technology for this, but we also need to get hands on with the key users and ensure some practical experience is undertaken as well.

What is one issue the industry should urgently address in 2021?

New Zealand has a newfound respect and genuine empathy for our essential workers. Let’s not allow the market to forget the crucial role they will play in keeping us all safe.

What additional advice or guidance do you have for the cleaning community?

Cleaning is an industry where we can all make a difference, whether it’s through our attitude towards the cleaners and the amazing job these unsung heroes do, or the job suppliers do in helping their day become a little easier through technology and design innovation.

This article first appeared in the February issue of INCLEAN magazine. 

Read the original article here

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