For over 30 years, Cozzi Srl (Parabiago, Milan) specialized in the production of expanded polyethylene shells for roofing and thermal insulation, key-components of e.g. hospital equipment. This is why the company has hardly been able to shut down production and deliveries, in recent months. In turns, this required that a series of stringent measures for the protection of the workers had to be implemented over a short time. “Since February 24th, assisted by our Prevention and Protection Service Officer, we engaged in gathering information on behaviours and tools that could be adopted to avoid spreading the disease, and in implementing them with the utmost urgency: masks, although initially hard to obtain; hand sanitiser; notices to illustrate behaviours that employees were to adopt such as social distancing and proper hand washing; information on the symptoms of the virus, etc.” explains the Cozzi family, owner of the company. “Then the situation in our area deteriorated. Consequently, on March 16th, despite the requests for deliveries, we decided to shut down our activity for a week. Upon reopening, we found ourselves “changed”, with a more profound and intense awareness of the necessity to change our usual social behaviour in several ways to protect us and others. It is as if our metabolism had decreased: we slowed down our pace, limited our workforce to the bare minimum and every action, every movement was almost scrutinised prior to being executed, in the attempt of following the preventative measures as rigorously as possible. Couriers too adopted appropriate behaviours to maintain a safe distance from our workers.”
Until the end of April, the company downsized its activity to 70%, utilising illnesses and benefits / subsidies. “From the production standpoint, we hardly faced any inconvenience. Even with a significantly reduced staff, we were able to handle the demand for products, that had dropped due to temporary closures of many of our customers. Since most of them are in eastern Lombardy and Veneto, the areas most affected by the emergency, they too had troubles accepting deliveries and in some cases these issues are still unresolved. Until May 4th, few companies have worked, and even fewer at full capacity”. The situation for our foreign customers is no different: “Some stopped for 2 or 3 weeks, but our biggest problem lies in transportation: departures have halved, delays have been the standard for at least a month”.
Although the drop in demand was strong, both the owners and all the staff tried to look at the glass as half full and to make a virtue out of necessity: “The reduction in demand hence the slowdown in business compared to the norm, enabled us to catch up with our backlog and to focus on other aspects of the business that had been awaiting for a solution for some time».
Now, the new decree allows us to reopen our doors. What will the new normal be like? “In terms of production, we are ready to start at full speed and, honestly, we also hope that there will be a boom in requests in order to compensate, at least in part, for the drops of the past few weeks. We are not afraid of an overload: our structure is agile and allows us to respond quickly to requests. Obviously, we will no longer be as we were. The virus has changed the way we relate to each other and the memory of what happened and to some extent is still happening lies in the back of our minds. We don’t want it to just be a “bad” memory though: this pandemic forced us to learn a lot”. An example? “For instance, a new modus operandi: work is important but alternative tools and solutions exist that enable us to carry it out effectively, while promoting our workers’ personal life and satisfying our customers’ the needs”.