Provident Bank: Delivering on its Commitment to Customers During the Pandemic
Peggy Kelly is the owner of Spectrum, a Herman Miller furniture company that specializes in work space environments that matter to clients, the community and our planet. Keith Buscio, Vice President, Director of Public Relations, Provident Bank, spoke with Peggy to learn how the company has successfully navigated the pandemic and how Provident Bank has helped Spectrum during one of the toughest years the business has ever faced.
KB: Tell us about your business
PK: Spectrum is a certified Herman Miller dealership. We support the greater Philadelphia market, Delaware, New Jersey as well as national work. I bought the company in 2017. Today, we have 43 employees that support the areas of project management, design, operations, sales and customer care. Spectrum’s main goal is creating great spaces that matter. We do spaces that range in size from a single office to large buildings. Our designs are very much customized based on our clients. We find solutions based on what is important to the client from design to budget to sustainability. Our clients include healthcare, commercial, retail, hospitality, government, and education. We also sell preowned furniture and offer to buy-back any furniture that is no longer needed. This allows us to offer our high quality furniture in a less expensive way to our clients.
KB: How has your business been affected by the pandemic and what are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
PK: Our workplace strategy has changed this year to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic. With all of the restrictions, we’ve faced many challenges, including how to support companies with an environment that is both comfortable and safe. If we have clients working from home, we want to ensure that when employees return to the office, it is in a safe way. As we are in the business of creating great work spaces, this year has been challenging since we do not have many businesses that are in the office at the moment. We were hit really hard in the beginning of the pandemic because we weren’t in the office and our main manufacturer, Herman Miller, was shut down. So, we didn’t have the products to offer the end users. Not to mention, our end users weren’t in their offices either. In addition, the construction that we rely on to build the spaces was not operating due to the pandemic, so we were unable to build.
We’ve learned how to do more with less and still managed to accommodate our customers. When the economy began to open back up in mid-June, we had high hopes people would be returning to the office ready to create their work space. We quickly realized people were tentative and cautious about investing money in their office space when the future was still unknown. This has forced us to learn new ways to do business.
Another big challenge is cash flow. I am aware that right now, we have customers who are tight on cash, but we still need to make sure money is coming in and money is going out. Before the pandemic, business was good and we had the luxury of taking more risks. Right now, we have to think carefully about every decision in order to ensure our cash flow and money management remain stable.
KB: What are some of the changes you’ve had to make to your business that you never would have anticipated this time last year?
PK: We’ve had to revamp our sales team. In our business, networking is key. Our sales team members are used to taking clients out to lunch and attending events. During this time, networking opportunities are just not happening. Instead, we’re now focused on existing clients, giving them ideas on how to safely redesign their offices. We’ve provided existing clients solutions from a redesign to erecting barriers in between cubicles and how to move work stations six feet apart from one another. We’ve also been doing buy-backs in some cases where companies were downsizing their office spaces. We are performing a lot of services now, whereas before the pandemic, we were more product focused. This has allowed us to help our clients adapt to a new way of working during a pandemic. Additionally, we’ve been doing office cleanings while our clients have been out of their office spaces. We send our service teams into offices and create a refreshed look. So, when it’s time to return to the office, employees will feel comfortable and safe. Some of our larger clients have taken advantage of their employees working from home and have chosen to move forward with office renovations. This is great for us because we can continue to provide and accommodate these customers while their employees are out of the office.
KB: How has Provident Bank helped your business through the pandemic? How have they demonstrated their commitment?
PK: The Provident team members have been great coaches during the pandemic. When we were shut down in April and May, business was tough. I sat down with the Provident team and walked through the different strategic scenarios for the next 3 months. Provident worked very hard to carve out a plan specifically designed for Spectrum. The advice and support we received from the Provident team was exceptional. Within the next 3 months, we were back to where we needed to be financially. Provident assured us they would remain committed during this difficult time. Ultimately, Provident knows our business well and knows what we are able to achieve. They stood by us during the storm and demonstrated their commitment by helping us through one of the most difficult years. Thanks to the team at Provident, we were also able to take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program quickly and efficiently. The guidance and the communication from Provident Bank has been extraordinary. So much so, that I’ve recommended Provident Bank to other business owners!