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At the onset of the pandemic, Canadians didn't have many options to keep busy. As a result, we hopped on bikes and skateboards like never before. But as retailers were forced to shut their doors, bike and board outfitters struggled in spite of demand. Hear how Landyachtz kept on rolling.
Landyachtz is a B.C.-based skateboard and bike manufacturer, and just one of the thousands of businesses that felt the impact of COVID-19. While Canadians were looking for ways to beat boredom (there’s only so much Netflix one can watch in a day), bicycles and skateboards were in high demand. But with 90% of their retail clients in lockdown, Landyachtz saw a huge part of their business temporarily disappear.

In order to get through the pandemic, the team had to pivot quickly. Today, business is strong and they’re able to get product to boarders and bikers itching to hit the road. But it wasn’t without some strategic thinking, effective relationship building, and community-minded action.

In a recent discussion with Tom Edstrand, the Landyachtz co-founder shared five ways his team was able to keep business rolling during the pandemic.

1. By Taking Swift and Strategic Action

Mid-March, when COVID first hit and the country went into lockdown, is typically the busiest time of year for Landyachtz. It’s when they have all of their cash tied up in inventory and receivables, and are getting ready to ship out their stock. This year, with most of their clients’ doors shuttered, they were faced with a big cash crunch. Concerned that they were going to run out of money, they knew they had to act fast.

Quickly, they did some very detailed cash flow modeling. To limit their spending to only the essentials, they started by shutting down their L.A. warehouse for a couple of weeks. Their engineering and graphic development that was set to release their 2021 lineup was also paused.

Then, there was the question of what to do with their staff. But instead of laying people off, they went to each person individually to see what they could get by with, and rolled hours back by up to 60%. “We wanted to keep our team together, but we also had to make sure we didn’t run out of cash,” says Edstrand.

2. By Leveraging Strong Relationships

The team at Landyachtz had always fostered really strong relationships with their suppliers, through years of paying on time and being a good, loyal customer. “These relationships put us in a really good position,” says Edstrand. “Our suppliers were willing to work with us and negotiate longer payment terms.”

And while they weren’t always able to pay suppliers the full amount owing, Landyachtz made sure they were still paying their vendors something. In the meantime, they kept the dialogue going so that once they demonstrated they could boost their online business, suppliers had the confidence they would be able to pay. This open communication meant that Landyachtz became a priority for suppliers, which was critical in an environment of dwindling supply.

3. By Pivoting Their Sales Model

Landyachtz is typically set up to ship large orders to wholesalers and retailers. They would send as many as 3,000 boards in one shipment. With retailers out of the picture for the time being, Landyachtz had to shift their shipping departments to handle orders of one board at a time.

“Our shipping department had to change quite a bit,” says Edstrand. Some of our sales guys who were handling wholesale accounts moved to customer service to meet the new demand.”

4. By Supporting Retailers

Recognizing that retailers were struggling, Landyachtz worked with their clients to arrange payment terms that worked for everyone. Even though their online business was booming, the team wasn’t going to abandon the clients they had been working with all these years. “While we moved more of our business online, we still had these stores that we support and are partners with, so it was important that we made sure we were helping them out too,” Edstrand explains.

Fortunately, retailers have begun re-opening, and Landyachtz is there to support them with inventory. “With skateboarding being in such high demand right now, retailers are doing really well. Especially with the buy-local movement,” Edstrand is pleased to report.

5. By Supporting the Skateboarding Community

The team and Landyachtz is passionate about skateboarding, and strongly believes that both boarding and biking have become bright spots for people through the pandemic. They are also passionate about the role your local skateboard store plays in the community. “That’s why we have been so involved in sponsoring events. Because it’s a good community thing to do.”

To help connect people to the skateboarding community, Landyachtz has created and sponsored photo contests that get people on their board with a smile on their face. They continue to look for ways to promote skateboarding overall, and not just their brand.

While there were times when the team didn’t think they were going to make it through the crisis, Landyachtz has 100% of their staff back and the outlook is really good. Edstrand credits their commitment to work with people and figure out solutions together as a key to coming through.

“If we had just said we’re laying people off at lockdown, it would have destroyed our business, because our business is our people. If we had said to suppliers we’re not paying you, we would have destroyed those relationships.”

And as they continue to ramp up production and sales, these strong relationships are enabling them to overcome inventory issues, get stock out as quickly as possible, and get more people cruising down the road.