BURLINGTON, N.C.—Flexaust Co. Inc. really needs to work on its timing.
Back in 2008, just as the Great Recession was starting to take hold, the hose and ducting manufacturer was in the middle of adding to its factory in Amesbury, Mass.
Similarly, as the novel coronavirus pandemic escalated this year, the firm was in the late stages of a $6.5 million to $7 million, three-year project that saw it open a new factory in Burlington; move its facility in Las Vegas to a new, larger home; put up a new building at its main campus in Warsaw, Ind., freeing up space for the addition of more production equipment at one of its other plants there; and adding more hose manufacturing lines in Amesbury.
But you won't find Flexaust officials fretting about the timing. They say that business has bounced back from the depths of the downturn, and the hose maker will be in a good position when the world eventually moves forward from the pandemic.
"What we will find out when we come out of it, which we will, is we will be in good shape," said Michael O'Brien, Flexaust vice president of sales and marketing, based out of Amesbury. "We didn't put back. We didn't close down anything. Flexaust will be in a position to service the customer as good as we ever have, if not better."
That's not to say that Flexaust, like most businesses, didn't feel the impact. O'Brien said revenues took a hit of about 20 percent for several months, but since July have come back strong.
Certain markets, such as recreational vehicles, hobbies, and the woodworking and tool industries, were particularly strong as the public had to take a different approach to how it spent its discretionary income because of the lockdown measures taken to try to stem the spread of the virus.
"Instead of spending money on long vacations and cruise ships, they seem to be trying to find more things at home," he said.
Flexaust also had a couple of opportunities to supply respiratory hoses, a business that saw a spike in demand because of the outbreak. The firm, O'Brien said, had some customers in that market prior to the pandemic, and they became extremely busy and were under a lot of pressure to get product in the field.
"We basically sat down on a couple of Saturdays, and once we knew we were in trouble with capacity in some areas, we were all hands on deck to get respiratory hoses to the OEMs who are building the equipment or distributors supplying them," he said. "We came up with two or three other hoses that were acceptable, and from those a couple others were chosen to be used for some of the projects that were ongoing.
"The Flexaust engineering group and production (staff) really came through with coming up with solutions that were light weight and flexible—everything they needed in those applications."