For so many of us, 2020 has been an unforgettable and unforgiving year. We have all seen extreme highs and lows. There have been challenges that few of us expected let alone ever experienced before.
As we reflect on the past year, we want to touch upon the positives and the negatives that we have experienced as a company, how we have struggled with tragedy, and coped to overcome issues, and how we plan to enter into 2021 even stronger, together.
This is the first in a three-part series of interviews that we would like to share, to present our perspective on an unforgettable year. Whilst this article focuses on some of the specific events of 2020, the other two will explore how technology and supply chains were shifted by the pandemic and what changes we anticipate in the near future.
It now seems so long ago, in March of 2020, that Anders announced their acquisition of Selectronic. This event built on the positive start to the first quarter of the year, as the two companies looked forward to the shared strength of being “better together”.
Mike Logan - Senior Product Manager
As seen from the viewpoint of 2019, the year 2020 did look promising. We were all geared up and looking forward to the challenge ahead. And when I say challenge, I meant the usual challenge of working with our customers to bring the best solution. We had a number of projects in the pipeline, specifically the natural progression from monochrome to full colour display to complement our customers’ product development and this business was booming.
The acquisition was probably one of the best kept secrets in Anders. It was really exciting, I thought, "That's fantastic, it's great," because I know Selectronic, their people and their capabilities. It was a strategic acquisition, because like us they had been in the displays industry for many, many years and their customer and supplier base strongly complemented ours. The acquisition was a clear sign to the industry that we were and are serious about growth.
Engineering Team Lead
The acquisition was really interesting because we were planning to expand our range and to explore more combined technologies.
So, overnight, we doubled our resources, specifically within engineering. This presented the opportunity to do more, introduce additional opto-electronics including LEDs and ancillary display technologies, all coupled with additional capabilities for our embedded and electronic designs in general.
We now have more engineers and experience in opto-electronics, as well as mechanical engineering with thermal expertise in addition to electronic engineers for hardware and software development. It’s an amazing expansion to the team, with complementary excellence.
Marketing & Communications Manager
Both Anders and Selectronic have an inclusive, family type of approach to business. We pull together and support each other. So, when the acquisition happened, it was easy to consider everyone as part of our extended family. It was also exciting as it opened up many opportunities for us to work together on projects. Some of us knew the Selectronic people from seeing each other at exhibitions and conferences, so we were keen to get to know them better.
From a marketing perspective, I was eager to learn more about the teams and projects, to see how we could operate together. There is so much knowledge and experience on both sides, but in slightly different areas. Putting that together would be powerful, making us, together, much more than the simple sum of the parts.
Almost immediately after the acquisition was announced, COVID-19 began to change business as we know it. Organisations were forced to work in the new normal - home working, connecting digitally, the “Better Together” mantra took hold in the company. Taking it in our stride, both Anders and Selectronic managed the challenges and opportunities as they came our way.
Lee: We had been planning some articles and product announcements for the Anders newsletter when the pandemic happened. Everything changed so quickly. We moved our focus from promotional to a much more supporting role. We had to take care of our employees, our suppliers and our customers while finding a way to make it all work together.
We immediately relocated the Anders warehouse in London to the bigger facility in Witney, UK and ramped up utilisation of our Netherlands logistics hub to ensure continuity of supply. We also changed the way we worked – we quickly switched to meeting virtually, replacing our day-to-day interaction with digital meetings and making sure our creative collaboration was still focused and intact.
Mike: I think the intention with the acquisition was, we are going do something really, really exciting and powerful. And, I would say that despite COVID-19, we managed to secure new and exciting projects. Everybody had the right attitude and were really hungry to keep 2020 going.
Christian: There were, of course some setbacks with customer projects as a result of the pandemic and the supply chain was initially uncertain. However, there was also an immediate urgency to support our customers with their ventilator projects. We helped with not just their user interfaces, touch screens and displays but also with their embedded technology needs.
Some of our big household brand name customers parked their standard projects with us, and rightly so, diverted efforts and resources into COVID-19 related technologies. This meant we needed to be flexible and agile to respond to this shift in demand from consumer and industrial products to the medical sector. There was also a shift from the usual research and development to quick-turn prototyping and manufacturing.
Our own grief
The Loss of our General Manager, Paul Mullen, in August 2020 in a terrible accident was felt right through to the core of the company.
Mike: Paul put us on the right track. His whole attitude in the way we approach business was incredibly professional. He instilled the belief that Anders will be something big if we worked at it the right way. Paul was one of these guys. Positive about everything he did. For every project, Anders would be the de facto go-to-company. He knew if we worked hard, we would get our reward.
Lee: What a terrible loss! Paul was our heartbeat, the soul of Anders – everyone felt this tremendously. After the initial shock, we discovered that many of us had quietly doubled our efforts, determined to continue to drive for success.
Christian: We are determined to make this work. For our company, we are unwavering to keep our customers happy, and to provide the best service to our customers.
Our Chairman, Bernard Lim talks about the year that has been, the challenges we have all faced in our personal and professional lives and looks forward to 2021 with renewed hope.