Part of our continuing series on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local businesses and organizations.
A commentary by the two managing partners at Westcoast Appliance Gallery, where Fred Aram is also CEO and Byron Loucks is president.
Like all other businesses, we at Westcoast Appliance Gallery never envisioned a pandemic occurring so rapidly and affecting our global and local community.
The outbreak of COVID-19 was fast, and needed a fast reaction from our side in order to continue our business, which has roots dating to 1984 in Victoria.
The company has been at 3090 Nanaimo St. since 2016, after moving from a smaller showroom and warehouse space at Gorge and Jutland.
Being a small local company with minimal bureaucracy and management hierarchy allows us to make hard decisions and implement them quickly.
Knowing how critical it is for members of our community to have working appliances in order to keep their food cold, cook their food, wash their dishes and do their laundry while in quarantine, we had no option but to continue operating.
We could not have left our community stranded when they would have needed us most.
Byron Loucks had a long history of providing consultation services on health and emergency services to federal, provincial and municipal governments and designing business continuity plans.
With that, combined with Fred Aram’s 20 years in the appliance industry, we took the necessary measures to continue our business with the utmost care, cautiousness and attention to health and safety measures.
We had 30 employees when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. We had to lay off a third of them, and ask some of those remaining to work from home, which brought our employee head account to about 20.
We provided our employees — service technicians, professional sales, logistics, installation and administration staff — with personal protection masks and face shields, disinfecting and sanitizing agents, along with thorough training on how to perform their tasks safely in order to protect themselves and our customers.
We increased our advertising to let community members know that we are here to serve them at the time they most need us. The support from the community has been tremendous.
We have never felt more appreciated and we have never felt so proud of being members of this fascinating community, whose members support local businesses so much, and see value in supporting those who support them.