Coronavirus: What next for Chiselwood?

MD Mel Holliday looks at What's next for bespoke kitchen manufacturer and retailer Chiselwood, which may resonate with small, independent studio owners

27 Mar, 20

Managing director Mel Holliday looks at What’s next for bespoke kitchen manufacturer and retailer Chiselwood, which may resonate with small, independent kbb studio owners

Coronavirus: What next for Chiselwood

Chiselwood team taken by George Holliday

Chiselwood has been in business for 31 years. We started in a recession, have been through many more, the longest starting in 2008.

We have worked through the tragedy of 9/11 and Brexit to name but a few.

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Each time the unknown impact has shaken us for a while, then slowly, we have picked ourselves up and strategised. Reinventing the wheel has been our mantra and so far has served us well.

The workshops have closed

Today our workshops are closed for the fourth day. The daily noises we usually hear from the design office are no longer there.

We are down to: [design director] Martin Holliday, Mel Holliday, Geoffrey the dog and radio in the background.

We are reflecting how thankful we are for the health of our family, friends, team and all we know.

Coronavirus has struck, our lives are rapidly changing hourly and it is true to say no one knows what the impact will be.

Our team are amazing

For us, at Chiselwood, the last couple of weeks have been incredible for many reasons.

Supporting our team when this began was paramount.

Strick cleaning regimen implemented, setting up WhatsApp to keep chatting out of hours and many pranks and banter kept morale going.

So very important, as we had to support our clients, some who did not have kitchens.

The team were amazing, rising to the challenge: to get each client to a point where they at least had somewhere to cook, clean and wash.

Clients were supportive and understanding as our team had to work in isolation protecting themselves and our team.

Finding practical solutions

Over this weekend it was evident we were going to have to close.

By Monday all vehicles, available, were loaded to finish what we could.

Those remaining in the workshop pulled together, (socially distanced) to finish what they could and clean things down.

We, in the office, set about contacting clients and suppliers explaining the strategies we would have in the coming weeks.

We were overwhelmed with the laughter, support and kindness from our team.

4.30 pm the team left and whilst we were still on phones and emails, the silence was deafening.

Tuesday morning the reality of “what next” started to dawn.

The construction team building the houses, arrived to remove all machinery and make the site safe.

Martin filled the van with the last load, whilst Mel manned the phone etc.

By the end of the day, we had done all we could physically to get everybody in temporary kitchens.

So what next?

So what next? What will the new wheel look like?

It’s early days, there are still many clients with project’s on our books, some that were ready to be fitted over the coming months. We can reassure them that they will be ready to go once we are able.

Those that are still in the design phase are now Martin’s focus.

Most architects, interior designers etc that are involved in the projects are now working from home. This is great, as we can get those projects drawn up.

It won’t be possible to have face-to-face meetings to talk through the designs with the clients, however virtual meetings are planned. This way we can get the projects to the commission stage.

Headspace to design

In the past, when we have had flat times, Martin has had more head space to work on new designs or concepts.

Although this time we know we will be in this position for weeks.

Having no staff or workshops running, no site visits or showrooms to manage, he will be able to sit with his design pad, hopefully in a sunny (and, first time in years, fully tidy) garden and do what he loves best……design.

It is a valuable part of the business that often gets neglected due to lack of time.

What a great time for Chiselwood to give clients new fresh ideas when they are planning their kitchens when the dust settles.

What about the houses?

What of the houses we are being asked? For us, this is more uncertain timing wise.

We need to be confident that the economy and housing market is stable and our main focus at present is Chiselwood and supporting our team.

It will happen, we have been patient getting this far so a bit longer will be fine!

What are we doing at the moment

For now, we at Chiselwood continue to post daily stories on WhatsApp.

Our team are making each other laugh and we are amazed at their inventiveness and creativity.

Some have cleared garages and found things they put away for “ when they had time” some are learning new skills like cooking. We wait in anticipation for photographic evidence.

Others are enjoying time with their family without guilt that they are too busy.

For that we are thankful and know when we return, we will all be eager and ready for action to move Chiselwood to another level.