Our clients can rest assured that their needs can be supplied for months ahead in the quantities they will require, even should their demand spike, said Dolphin Bay’s Chief Operations Officer, Thinus Ferreira.
South Africa had one of the strictest lockdowns in Africa and the world, and while our clients in Africa could continue production, factories in South Africa could not, Thinus explained.
Lockdown here began on March 27. It was more than a month later – on May 1 – that imports and exports could resume.
During the interim – Stage 5 of South Africa’s lockdown – much of the cargo that had been imported and unloaded at ports, including our raw materials, could not be cleared by customs and delivered, as it was not deemed an essential service. “As a result, the ports became very congested. Shipping lines had to outsource storage space, and, at one point, port officials would not allow vessels to enter to deliver any more cargo.”
“Our strongest memories of this time will be our reaction to it: whether we created additional difficulties or whether we were one of those who tried to find solutions.”
When the South African government announced lockdown, Dolphin Bay and our South African customers had to halt manufacturing completely. Meanwhile, our costs soared as in some cases we were obliged to pay for the extra storage of our raw materials outside the ports, on top of VAT and other duties.
For our clients, the lockdown caused what, on paper, would have meant a three-month delay in our own supply of CCA. Product a client needed in June would have had to be ordered in February.
However, we had and continue to have sufficient stock in warehouses throughout Africa, on ships and in ports, to ensure that the lockdown delays did not negatively affect customers that continued to operate outside South Africa’s border, and those few South African customers classified as essential services.
We are continuing production over and above our orders so that when business returns to normal, we will still have stock to rapidly satisfy our clients’ demands.
Luckily, we have very strong relationships with our suppliers, so even though things changed daily during lockdown, we could mitigate the risk, said Thinus.
“We could communicate well and work out a plan to manage the financial burden,” he said.
“We were delighted to intensify our communication with customers. We were able to strengthen our relationships through Zoom calls and other mediums, to ensure a consistent and continued stream of communication.
“In some instances, emotions ran high, but we were able to gain a better understanding of each customer’s situation and our customers gained a better understanding of ours, so that we could find solutions that worked for both parties.
“We are confident that for our industry, this era will be behind us in the not too distant future. Our strongest memories of this time will our reaction to it: whether we created additional difficulties or whether we were one of those who tried to find solutions.”