COVID Creativity - Therma-HEXX
Client Name: Robert Barmore
Business Name: Therma-HEXX
Business Website: www.therma-hexx.com
Industry: Hydronics manufacturing
Location: Portsmouth, NH
Advisor's Name: Warren Daniel
What is your business? What do you do?
Therma-HEXX manufactures and assembles the ThermaPANEL modular hydronic heating and cooling system. ThermaPANEL is primarily used to snowmelt or cool pedestal and surface mounted pavers in applications from high rise terraces to residential pool patios.
When the shutdown began, what was the immediate impact on your business?
As a manufacturer of construction materials, we were deemed essential. Prior to the shutdown, we voluntarily sent our office staff and factory workers home until we knew what would happen with the PPP program. We kept everyone on the payroll for two weeks and told them that they were being paid to stay healthy and safe. We then put factory staff on unemployment for about four weeks. The office staff worked remotely and were kept on the payroll. Once we were confident that the factory staff could work safely with masks and social distancing, we brought them back in.
How were you able to adapt (or not) during the first few months of the pandemic?
Projects that we supply are scheduled as many as three years in advance and as few as three months. This has worked to our advantage. Projects are now delayed, but have not cancelled.
Once businesses were able to open in NH, how did you adapt your business, services, products, and/or physical space?
For the first six months of the year, many of our projects were delayed. We used this time to build inventory and update or maintain equipment. We are now booked out for the remainder of the year and into Q1 of 2021. Remarkably, this will be our best year. We have added additional factory staff to keep up on the manufacturing side. We also implemented a different inventory storage system to handle the front-loaded inventory. Now that we are manufacturing at an increased pace, we have been adding equipment to improve and speed up our manufacturing process.
Will you continue the changes and adaptations you have made once concerns over COVID-19 are behind us? Are you planning to institute more changes in the near future?
We are expecting a surge in pent up demand through 2021. Q1 is usually a slow period due to weather shutting down construction projects; however, 2021 Q1 will be strong due to the backlog.
How are you communicating with customers now? Are you marketing in the same ways you were prior to COVID-19?
Yes, marketing is the same. No lunch-and-learns though. We usually schedule an installation trainer to go onsite to train new installers across the U.S. and Canada. We now do it via Zoom or over the phone and videos.
How has SBDC helped you and your business, especially in the last year?
We were given advice on PPP, EIDL, and the Main Street Fund. We received funding from all three and those funds kept us in business.
If you received a PPP loan, tell us your own and your employees' stories.
PPP reimbursed us for the money we spent ahead of the shutdown to be safe, plus it allowed us to continue to manufacture inventory even without the benefit of regular revenue.