Thailand is slowly emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. Like everywhere else in the world, the kingdom’s economy has been hit hard. The pandemic, which was initially forecasted to be similar to the annual flu, ended up as one of the most lethal threats against public health and economic growth.
Various industries responded by halting productions, closing down factories, or laying off staff. Thailand’s unemployment rate of 0.7% has skyrocketed to nearly 10%.
However, Tetra Pak Thailand, a leading food processing and packaging company, has been able to cope with the crisis, without having to lay anyone off, or cut back on salaries.
Here’s a talk with Managing Director Bert Jan Post.
No cut back and no layoff, how did you manage it?
For us, I don’t really think we had a choice. We have two plants in Thailand: one in Bangkok and one in Rayong. Together, I think Tetra Pak has over 500 employees in both those plants, so that’s 500 lives we had to safeguard.
We make it a priority to protect the well-being of our employees and their families. This includes their financial stability. A pandemic did not change the fact that they have been working diligently with us for a long time.
It is our invaluable team members who deliver our vision.
What were some of the measures you introduced?
We ask our team members to work hard, which they do. So the very least we can do is take care of them. As a food safety authority, we hold ourselves accountable to the utmost sanitation standards.
With the pandemic happening, we reinforced our already-strict cleaning procedures, and asked our staff to take further precaution. Believe me, they were taught everything: car protocols, hand-wash methods, even new ways to put PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] on.
Not only did everyone have to learn a new cleaning regimen, but they also received new Personal Protective Equipment: the suits, gloves, goggles, everything. It was our priority.
Yes, it’s important because they’re handling food, but mostly because they are part of our team.
At the time, with people stocking up on groceries and supermarkets running at the minimum, how did you manage your business?
It is completely fair that people wanted to stock up on groceries when the government imposed strict regulations. Everyone needs it, right? I wouldn’t say that our orders were lesser during this time.
You see, products that we usually supplied to places like hotels [which were closed down] were instead being bought in bulk by the public.
We were also fortunate to have investment support from our stakeholders.
Did the strict curfew affect your deliveries?
Thanks to our team, all of our day-to-day operations continued with zero interruptions. Zero! This was in huge part because of their dedication, but also their adaptability. Our delivery team did not drive during curfew hours but made sure to get everything where it needed to be during our allotted time.
As for traveling restrictions, the government did allow retailers to move between provinces.
So, you just jumped over all those hurdles, eh?
We tried really hard. Like I mentioned before, it’s really because of our team.