When life gives you lemons, pivot.


The world of work has been transformed this year and the only way forward is to adapt. Here are two businesses who rejigged their offering to keep the invoices rolling and experienced great success.

Metal Art finds silver lining during lockdown

When the pandemic hit, engineering company Metal Art from Wellington carved out new opportunities. The interior and exterior furniture specialists designed and produced more than 1,000 hand sanitiser stands for Progressive supermarkets nationwide and Initial Hygiene.

“Around 50% of our regular business dropped away so we knew we had to change our focus fast,” says Managing Director Carl Longstaff. “We developed a new product line of hand sanitiser stands and manufactured and supplied gel. Thankfully we have managed to maintain full employment for our 35 staff and I’m confident these products will continue to see strong demand by companies, government departments and organisations dealing with the public face-to-face.”

He says COVID-19 emphasised the importance of supporting local businesses where possible.
“Our steel is produced less than 50 metres down the road from us and we outsource where we can – be it powder from Dulux or sandblasting from Seaview Blasting. We try to get things as close to home as we can because at the end of the day we want to deal with locals and with people we trust.”

Bringing home the bacon

Pop-up restaurant founder Stacey Jones from Mount Maunganui describes time in lockdown as a ‘tale of two halves’ for her business Kitchen Takeover.

“It was hard because my seven events sold out in 24 hours before lockdown and they all had to be cancelled. But this was good because it forced me to pivot and move really quickly into something new, which would never have happened if I hadn’t had my hand forced.”

Stacey decided to package up her pop-up restaurant night into a dinner party box – a fine-dining experience delivered to your door.

“One of the challenges of the pop-up restaurant is that I spend months developing menus with chef Shane Yardley and experiences that are completely unique,” she explains. “The boxes are great because they allowed me to scale up and get the edible experiences into more people’s hands.”

Stacey is a big believer in the ‘innovate or die’ saying and views each one of her business ideas as a big prototype.

“You’re always moving forward and changing things to get a better end result. We’re in the very early stages of Kitchen Takeover – At Home, but it’s going really well. We sold out of all our boxes in the first and second round so I think that’s a good sign of market validation.”

Top businesswoman Theresa Gattung, who was involved in the conception of My Food Bag, is a fan, and one diner described it as “having a five star restaurant in your home”.

Kitchen Takeover pop-up restaurants are now back in full force in the Bay of Plenty. Stacey’s future plans include a physical food innovation space and a food festival to celebrate local producers. “Not sure when I’ll sleep…” she laughs. “It’s overrated anyway!”