Before the threat of COVID 19 was fully understood, the year began with celebrations, when Woolcool became the first UK packaging manufacturer of its kind to achieve certification as a registered B Corporation.
B Corporations (or B Corps) are a growing group of companies who are reinventing business, by pursuing purpose as well as profit, their motto, business as a force for good. Woolcool has been certified by B Lab UK as having met rigorous social and environmental standards which represent its commitment to goals outside of shareholder profit.
There are currently over 300 certified B Corps in the UK and more than 3,200 worldwide (and growing), with Woolcool being the first Packaging Manufacturer to achieve this within the UK.
The certification process was rigorous, with applicants expected to score over 80 points on B Corp’s in depth assessment of the business and its internal and external impacts. We provided evidence of socially and environmentally responsible practices – including energy supplies, waste and water use, worker compensation, diversity and corporate transparency. To complete the certification, we have legally embedded our commitment to purpose beyond profit in our company articles.
Looking back now, passing these rigorous tests at the start of 2020 stood us in good stead for the challenges ahead.
Without stating the obvious, the pandemic meant that 2020 was hugely challenging for all businesses in a variety of different ways, and Woolcool rose to those challenges thanks to the dedication of our team and wider family of suppliers, partners and clients.
In personnel terms, the challenge meant balancing the safety and wellbeing of our team with the needs of the business. As much of the country locked down, Woolcool’s warehouse team continued onsite. Woolcool were classed as ‘key workers’ at this time. With the safety of our team at the forefront of our planning, and with careful and clear social distancing and lots of support for those team members who needed to self-isolate, we ensured that morale stayed high. Video calls for those working from home became the norm, with many a call interrupted by housemates, both human and animal, with hilarious consequences!
In the midst of the first wave, in June time, we received welcome good news that not only reinforced that high morale, it also provided a valuable reminder of how working together was at the heart of our company’s ethos. Woolcool overcame entries from across the country to be named as Small Family Business of the Year at the National Family Business of the Year Awards 2020, with judges praising the firm’s ‘strong values’ which extend beyond the family and the team to include customers, partners and suppliers, along with support for the wider community.
We are so proud to have won this award because the notion of family is at the centre of what we do. Woolcool is family-owned, but we think of the ‘Woolcool Family’ as including not only everyone who works here but our suppliers, partners and customers too. We called upon that family ethos many times throughout 2020, as demand grew for our products in the pandemic. Lockdown and changes in shopping habits brought by the pandemic saw online shopping and doorstep delivery explode, bringing new enquiries for our insulated packaging as more people turned to delivered food and medicines.
However, while the pandemic may have caused a growth in interest in insulated packaging, it also impacted on industrial supply chains. Extra demand for packaging made cardboard and raw materials more difficult to source, which meant rethinking how we ordered our boxes from manufacturers to build in longer lead time for delivery, whilst managing the high standards and service that our customers have come to expect from Woolcool.
We invested in new machinery to improve our systems and efficiencies during the year, to help us meet this need and ensure our customers the continuity and security of their supply chains, and our commitment to research and development continued unabated.
We are proud to say that, thanks to the efforts of our extended Woolcool family, we fulfilled every order in a tremendously challenging year.
Woolcool also continued with its commitment to support the local community throughout the pandemic. We supported the “TLC Tubz project, created by Staffordshire charity Ruff and Ruby, which distributed care and wellbeing packages for teenagers in Stoke on Trent throughout the coronavirus lockdown.
We were moved by the project’s determination to help local young people, who may be struggling with family breakdowns or domestic violence in their home. Their care packages represented a practical act of kindness, which resonated with our own belief in a caring business ethos, whether that’s within our own team, with our partners, clients or customers.
As we look ahead to what 2021 will bring, we want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of our team members, suppliers, partners, clients and customers for helping us achieve everything we did. Our team reacted to the challenge set out and continue to be what drives us forward.
Huge challenges lie ahead, but the new year brings with it real hope – not least in the roll-out of vaccines which should bring the pandemic under control. The last year has shown what we can do After overcoming the difficulties of the last 12 months and learning many, many lessons, we believe we are in a stronger place for the future, and ready to tackle what lies ahead. 2021… Bring it…