Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.
Costa Rican digital signage solutions company IdeaMedia was looking, like a lot of companies, at a bumpy future brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, so like a lot of small companies thrown into an unplanned lockdown, it pivoted.
“We are trying to not only to remain alive, but also try to financially survive this pandemic,” says company owner Adrian Carmona in an email to Sixteen:Nine. “As you can imagine, these times help in pushing your ideas further and making you really think hard on your next move.”
“As a business owner one of the hardest things to do is consider a shutdown and have to let go colleagues who have been there for you in good and bad times.”
This is why, when we began the shutdown in Costa Rica, we met together and decided we were going to come up with something to help us survive. I am very proud to say these guys (and girl) have really worked hard, and now we have our functional sanitizer dispensers.“
“One of the main challenges was to produce in-house as much as we could, not only because of the high import costs and long delivery times, but also because we wanted to ‘re-create a job’ for everyone on staff and try not to have to let anybody go.”
Now the company has a hybrid/display sanitizing station for local retailers that was largely built in Costa Rica, using hardware modified from the existing countertop and other displays IdeaMedia sells into businesses around that country.
“To our customers, we are exchanging over the counter units and converting them into alcohol dispensers with basically the same hardware modified,” says Carmona, “and, of course, all the rest of the mechanisms that dispense the gel.”
“A lot of code, metal-cutting and painting later, and our units are functional. Let’s see what happens along the road, but in the meantime at least we continue to be in business. Most important, each and everyone of my guys remains an essential and core part of the business.”
A LOT of companies have, by necessity, made this sort of pivot or line extension to add products tuned to this very unfortunate moment. Right now, companies have a shot at keeping the lights on and maintaining payroll if what they sell is a need to have, not a nice to have.
I like the hybrid screens/sanitizers coming out of China, but can’t speak to build quality, support or much else. A locally-built and supported solution, even if it costs a bit more, seems a viable alternative, not only for peace of mind, but also to help that local business.