Survival and Recovery, the Morris Lubricants Way

Drawing strength from its workforce on the home front, and the loyalty shown by its international community of customers, Morris Lubricants credits the resilience of the people involved in every aspect of its 150-year-old business for helping to make the company able to adapt and overcome the unprecedented challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has presented.

Drawing strength from its workforce on the home front, and the loyalty shown by its international community of customers, Morris Lubricants credits the resilience of the people involved in every aspect of its 150-year-old business for helping to make the company able to adapt and overcome the unprecedented challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has presented.

“The situation was so unexpected and shocking that a new level of mutual-concern has developed within our team, and with our customers,” says Group International Business Director Stephen Dawe, who heads the department responsible for managing exports – a division that generates 40% of the company’s total business.

“Our overseas clients, many of whom have dealt with Morris Lubricants for more than 20 years, have demonstrated as much concern for us throughout the last 3-4 months, as we have for them. Making contact on many occasions simply to make sure we are safe and keeping well,” says Stephen. “If anything, the relationship with our customers has flourished as a result of the pandemic.”

With more than 90 countries on its distribution list, disruption caused by global lockdown caused a short-term reduction in monthly sales values of between 20-30%, but export order volumes are well on their way to recovering to pre-coronavirus levels, and not a single contract has been lost. 

In the UK, as lockdown continues to ease, the tenacity of the nationwide sales team – which traditionally relies on face-to-face contact to generate new business and influence territory sales – is also showing results. Orders are increasing on a daily basis, and calls to the technical team for advice and help are resuming a familiar level. 

“The role of the sales person has changed for a long time to come,” says Business Development Director Ian Douglas, who sees some of the significant obstacles his staff have faced during the crisis as opportunities to evolve. Most significant of all, the transition from visiting customer premises to remote video conferencing.

“The amount of time saved by not driving will make the team more productive. They can use it to find more creative and imaginative ways to generate business, and it will improve their wellbeing,” says Ian, who believes a digital first approach to interacting with customers will have a meaningful cost saving and environmental impact.

“I no longer have to drag the whole sales team to a central UK location to have meetings – we can comfortably do this from our homes.”

As and when it is safe to collaborate in close proximity, employees will follow strict infection prevention guidelines. Meetings will take place by appointment only, and a two metre distance maintained at all times. Full PPE will be worn, including a face covering and gloves, and Workshop Pro Hand Sanitiser, a product developed in response to the pandemic, will be supplied.

As Morris Lubricants continues to chart the uncertain waters of a COVID-19 world, plans for its long-term future remain at the forefront, with product development and investment in new technology key to helping to build a more efficient, sustainable and economical business.

“The automotive world is quite fast paced, and environmental pressures being brought to bear on emissions, hardware and technologies, are continually evolving,” says Automotive Product Manager Adrian Hill, BSc.

Responsible for bringing new products to market, Adrian’s key concern during lockdown was being able to maintain communication as his role relies on keeping up-to-date with industry developments and research formulations, as well as in-house liaison with purchasing, laboratory, production, commercial, sales and marketing departments.

“It’s important to know exactly where things stand so we can be proactive and anticipate what’s coming next,” says Adrian, who used software such as Zoom, MS Teams and Webex to hold critical meetings with internal and external contacts.

“This enables us to meet our customers present and future needs with minimal delay. Two dimensions are better than none, being able to see the people you are talking to is psychologically invaluable and we could also monitor our lockdown hairstyles!”

Now, more than ever, the company’s call to arms is both appropriate, and poignant; “to do the common thing, uncommonly well brings success” – even at the height of a global pandemic. 

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