Steve Ducker (Editor, Demolition & Recycling International and webinar moderator)
How has Coronavirus affected your business?
Martin Krupicka (President and CEO, Brokk Group)
We have operations in more than 15 countries, and you can see when societies close down entirely, when they start easing up, we can almost monitor this day by day. When societies are in lockdown, all manufacturers are affected.
How have companies adapted to virtual training?
We have made adjustments and taken precautions with hygiene measures but it was not that difficult to readjust our production. The impact has been bigger in our sales and service companies.
Do you go out to the customer or do you ship the machines back and forth?
You have days when you work onsite and days when you work remotely, to reduce the number of people in a location. Remote meeting software has been an eye opener.
It has so much potential to improve efficiency in our operation, so we are also learning some positives from this.
Can you say when we can expect demolition and construction to get back to some sort of a normal position?
Trying to predict when things are back to normal is essentially impossible and not even the experts on the virus have succeeded.
Unless we have some second waves coming up, most countries have left the worst part behind.
But it will also take some time for business to get back to normal, whatever the new normal is, and that might mean waiting for vaccines to come in.
I think we will get used to dealing with this situation and taking precautionary measures and get back to a more normal state that way. The “real” normal is, I think, further down the line.
What has the financial impact of Coronavirus been?
In the short term the implications are quite dramatic.
When societies manufacture a lot of equipment, and you shut down your sites and you go back and you can’t go to work, you don’t start ordering a lot more equipment and that is shared across the industry.
But we can see how things are opening and we can see some activities restarting.
You manufacture remote controlled demolition machines for an industry already suffering a skills shortage. How do you put that opportunity against the damage caused by the pandemic?
In the short term the pandemic hits everybody. In the longer term I believe that this will be a factor that will accelerate a trend towards mechanisation and remote operation.
That’s already ongoing but I think it will increase because some of the cost of having a lot of people on the work site is that you have to figure out ways of keeping the social distancing – and will continue for a while – and I think you can replace some of them by mechanisation and have fewer people on a site.
People look at the overall construction sector and the demolition part of it is already one of the most mechanised businesses. There is no reason to believe that trend would shift, the overall trend is already there.
What is the most important single positive message in your particular sector?
Markets will come back. This is not the end of the economy, it will come back, it will take some time.
For companies who are strong enough to make it through the rough times I think the upside in the demolition industry will be good because Coronavirus will change society.
You will have new investments in infrastructure, you will have changes of use in a lot of localities, you might see retail changed to something else, you might see office to real estate. All these changes are going to create work.
- Interview based on the Demolition after Coronavirus webinar held online on June 3 featuring Francisco Cobo (President, European Demolition Association) and David Darsey (Managing Director, Demolition Division, Erith Group). More coverage is in the June-July issue, or to download the full 55-minute video please visit the premium content section of www.khl.com
- The webinar sponsors were the National Federation of Demolition Contractors, Applied Science International, McCloskey International and Yantai Eddie. Our thanks to them all
- Thank you to all the audience members who took the time to join us online and those who submitted questions for the panel on the day.