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Shielding against adversity


“The COVID-19 environment was ever-evolving, and planning month-to-month became the new norm.” Samantha Bailey-Jensen.

  • Bailey Print Group are a family-run business specialising in signage for Queensland events


  • Business dropped dramatically with the arrival of COVID-19


  • The team began producing personal protective equipment for frontline workers, using in-house resources.


This time last year, the team at Bailey Print Group (BPG) were almost run off their feet. The 35-year-old family-run business, based in Brisbane, was busy producing signs, banners and displays for upcoming Queensland events, with most of their 11 full-time staff working six-day weeks.


Then, the calendar switched over to March 2020. And COVID-19 arrived.


“We were very worried because everything was so unknown and moving fast,” remembers BPG’s co-owner, Samantha Bailey-Jensen.


“We were concerned about the health of our employees and their families and whether we’d have to close down if someone got sick. Once the country went into lockdown and major events were cancelled, the future of our business was looking very bleak.”


A national cry for help


Then at the end of March, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian put out the call for Australian businesses to assist in the production of personal protective equipment (PPE). The team at BPG swung into action; they switched from designing signage and decals to producing hospital-grade face shields, using the resources they had. In doing so, a new business was created: Bailey Protection Gear.


“We took a calculated risk and purchased $8,000 of PETG plastic, then began designing and manufacturing a prototype,” Samantha says.


It was an extremely stressful time but BPG was supported by the ANZ Small Business team who offered them temporary relief on their loans.


“It was such an emotional and economic relief, as it gave us the breathing room to develop short-term financial and business strategies,” Samantha explains. “The COVID-19 environment was ever-evolving, and planning month-to-month became the new norm.”


A team effort


On 1 April, the BPG production team began the planning process, researching, designing and prototyping face shields using the company’s in-house machinery. Throughout this time, they worked closely with a healthcare professional and undertook trials to ensure their design was not only safe but also a quality product for frontline workers.


A few days later, they had a working product – along with a brand new e-commerce store to sell it – and the team began calling medical centres, hospitals and government agencies to let them know Bailey Protection Gear was in business. The interest? None.


The BGP production team hard at work.


BPG’s darkest hour


“It was discouraging,” Samantha recalls, knowing they’d need to let go of most of their staff. “In 35 years of business, we’ve never had to lay off anyone, so the thought of having to let go of long-term, loyal staff was heartbreaking.”


Moments before they were due to inform the team that they’d be stood down, BPG received an order of 1000 face shields from a nurse at one of Brisbane’s largest public hospitals. Ten days later, after lodging a patent and design for the face shields, they secured a contract with Queensland Health to supply 20,000 to be delivered within six weeks.


“We ended up delivering them 10 days ahead of schedule,” Samantha says, explaining the team was split in two to work day and night to fulfil the order, all while maintaining social distancing and ensuring health and safety precautions were being met.


“Hand sanitiser was used enthusiastically at all times!” she laughs.


The feedback from healthcare workers has been positive, particularly as the shields are reusable and produced here in Australia. One clinical nurse manager described them as ‘like gold’, adding that knowing there was a local supply was reassuring for the safety of her team.


The shields have also gained popularity among workers in the hair and beauty industry who have been able to continue trading.


Peace of mind


Throughout the year, ANZ has continued to offer BPG assistance, providing peace of mind the bank would be there if economic support was required. This included opportunities to borrow money and extend their loan deferral for a second time.


Samantha says “we didn’t need to take them up on it, but it was great to know the offer was on the table, if we needed it."


Samantha and the BPG team feel optimistic about the future and are looking forward to continuing to support Aussie businesses and protect workers both here and overseas through their quality protective gear – and the ongoing production of their high impact signage.


“Our business was built on the ethos of keeping manufacturing in Australia,” Samantha says. “Supporting the Australian economy and supplying local jobs has been our greatest achievement.”


Throughout 2020, they’ve seen first-hand just how vulnerable the Australian economy can be but with a strong team and solid support, BPG has been able to push through.


When it comes to business owners moving away from their current strategy, Samantha has this to say: “Believe in yourself, your ideas and your team. And take the risk. You never know where it may lead but you’ll never know if you don’t try it. No virus was going to destroy 35 years of hard work; we just had to find a way to navigate through it.”


If you’re a small business owner there’s a variety of ways ANZ can help. Talk to an ANZ Banker or use Business Planner to help plan your next step.



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