I feel quite honoured to be asked to contribute to this month’s “Online Lockdown” edition. I’m hoping it’s due to how we have tried to contribute as a company during this pandemic and not due to my daily social media updates that have now earned me the new title of ‘Doomsday Dan’ amongst my friends and colleagues… I’m also not sure that’s an improvement on ‘Dani in the van.’
For anyone who doesn’t know me: I spent ten years working within the industry in Palma for a well-known uniform company. Two years ago, my partner and I made the brave move to step into unchartered waters and go it alone, and there SR Polish and Antifoul was born. Anyone whom has started a company will appreciate the anxiety, worry and unease of what this entails… sleepless nights, rows and questions like: What if it doesn’t work? What if we lose everything? What if this leap results in a return to the UK?
I needn’t have worried! Our ‘little baby’ grew slowly and we had amazing support, fabulous clients, positive feedback and we were all able to breathe (a little) and not worry so much. We changed our name over to SR Coating Solutions due to the sheer amount of other works that we were recommended for in all aspects of coating. The upcoming year looked promising with clients returning, new clients enquiring, and I even ordered a new black marker for the wall planner… and then BOOM.
I’m quite an avid news and social media follower and like others, watched the rapid growth of the virus from China to Italy to Mainland Spain and then the slow trickles of confirmation came that it had hit our beloved Island of Mallorca. From a company perspective the implications of how this was going to affect us didn’t really hit home straight away. The first worries that came were the closure of schools and how we were going to deal with the logistics of a working family and a child at home. The teen in the house came skipping out of school like it was Christmas. If she had known that it would probably be the last day that she saw her friends again until mid-September (I assume), I don’t think she would have been quite so enthusiastic.
Next came the closure of bars and restaurants and the sign that appeared on the The Dock Bar, that: “Following The State of Emergency …” they too were closing, basically that was my office doors shut for the foreseeable with very little warning. How would I cope? Not very well it seemed. Everything else followed included Gyms and Sports… which I have to say was a highlight for me, I no longer had to make up excuses – result!
As a company and like many others we were fortunate to be able to continue to work at a minimum level. Sacrifices had to be made however; minimal staff and individual responsibility was essential. PPE is a prerequisite for our work on a daily basis, however the mentality changes of how sterile you are to keep yourself and those around you safe. Life becomes a slow robotic level of changing PPE several times a day, sanitisers, wipes, alcohol (and not the kind you need in a crisis) became the norm. It was at this point we felt a sense of desperation for those on the front line risking their lives and working and we wondered how we could help? We knew we had an excess of PPE and yet the hospitals were crying out for standard masks. I remember gathering what we had and driving to the hospital and in a slight panic, as that road took me off the route I could prove was for work, I saw that there was a Police Car behind me. I pulled in and waved them down, opened the boot and showed them what I had and, in my very best Spanish (which has a very odd accent) explained it was for the hospital. The reaction from those two officers was one of disbelief that they were for them. They flipped between questioning why I wanted to give them to the hospital to sheer gratitude.
Living in Spain, the Police can be quite intimidating so to ask them for a photo was overstepping the mark a little, but it was that photo which was posted to Palma Yacht Crew that seemed to get the ball rolling and everyone starting to think what did they have in their workshop? How could they help? What could they do? And we did…. It makes me so proud to be part of an industry that covers all areas of the Globe yet really is small when it comes to working together.
When the National Lockdown tightened to Non-Essential workers, I think that’s when we started to really panic: “What are we going to do? How will we cope? Will we survive? How will we pay the bills? I’m not sure we are going to make this. We are too small to survive this.” This is all we said for days; those words are very tame there are many swear words missing! The rollercoaster of emotions we felt at the beginning of our business was nothing compared to the anxiety, worry and sleeplessness nights we were now experiencing. I know my friends and competitors were all feeling the same. However, again even at a time of crisis we were messaging and speaking with competitors and trying to reassure each other that we will get through this.
The Easter period in yachting is very busy for any company, we are normally all working 12 sometimes 15 hours days, working in tents with lights on to ensure that Superyachts get away for their Easter charter or Boss trip. This was the most surreal Easter I have ever seen. We had ordered hundreds of eggs to drop to the yachts and crew this year to cheer them up for Easter and here Steven and I were sat at home wondering what to do with them all. On Easter Sunday we drove to Son Espases Hospital, which has been hit hard with the virus and walked in with these bags of eggs…. When we arrived three Doctors tried to point us in the direction of the Reception, until they saw what was in the bags. They were over the moon that someone had gone out their way to think about them, and that it really meant so much. We left the hospital feeling tearful and overwhelmed that one small gesture meant so much to others who are giving so much.
As I write this, work is slowly moving in STP and some companies are managing to work, albeit on a lesser level, but things are slowly moving and that is a positive. The virus is slowly declining. I have no idea what the future holds for so many here. I hope if anyone made it to the end of reading this, that you please remember that small companies depend on your custom. The impact of this year will have already damaged some beyond repair. If we continue to lose small companies, you will lose a vital skill set and loyalty that is fundamental within the industry, and I hope that when Spain returns to normal with shipyards and marinas being able to work at full capacity again, that we all try to help any company from drowning and emerge from this crisis stronger and together.
Until then, my wish is for everybody to stay safe and well and I hope to see you all on the other side sober. I can assure you I will definitely be fatter!
SR Coating Solutions