Covid 19 has meant an uptake in new business for Retro Play but has also given us some difficult trading conditions.
We are based in near Melbourne in the state of Victoria in Australia. Although Australia has seen very low Covid infections and deaths in relation to many other countries, the Australian government have placed two significant lock downs on the state of Victoria which has provided us with some real challenges.
Our manufacturing facilities were quite small but we had three cabinet makers full time working six days a week building arcade and pinball machines. When the first lock down was enforced we had to place both our cabinet makers on furlough due to social distancing regulations. This left us with just one full time cabinet maker (Dave). In addition to the sudden lack of staff we experienced severe delays in obtaining specialist parts from Europe and America. One consignment from America with plungers for pinball machines took thirteen weeks to arrive !
When the first lock down ended we were able to get our two other cabinet makers back and started working hard to get through the orders. During this first lock down we spent a significant amount of money on buying specialist parts in bulk from China and Europe so that we had good stock levels of the parts we require.
A few weeks later the state of Victoria entered a second lock down again meaning we were not able to practise social distancing and provide a safe working environment for our staff. During this time Retro Plays products were high in demand and people from all over the world were placing orders for pinball machines and arcade racing sims. To mitigate the issue of not being able to provide a safe environment for our staff and to increase our manufacturing capability Retro Play secured a much larger workshop and showroom facility in our local town. The move to larger premises means we can make more machines, faster.
Another problem we experienced was significant delays in having completed machines picked from transport companies. Our usual inter state transport company actually folded during the second lock down, this meant our relatively small work shop was becoming filled up with completed machines and we were running of actual work space. On one day in June we had over 15 machines completed and ready to ship but we couldnt get a transport company to collect them!
At each point we have taken key decisions to maintain manufacturing capability and mitigate any delays, however it was impossible to have any control