Dear Partners and Customers,
It’s been over one month since I wrote the previous “We Are Alive” message and I think that it’s time for a new one. Especially because your replies from all around the world have been very interesting and encouraging. It is one thing what we read in the media and another what we hear from people we know.
To be short: We are very much alive!
Generally, our industry so far is doing well. High demand for bandwidth results in more orders. Majority of our resellers have been reporting good business results in the last 30 days. Communities, medical facilities and warehouses need to be connected. People working from home consume bandwidth. Our customers report increased data transmission capacity requirements of 30-50%. They are busy upgrading their links. Question – is this sustainable? And for how long will the customers have the money to pay bills for internet? Just couple of days ago Frontier, Tier 2 US Carrier filed for chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court and probably more to come…
Couple of remarks about how SAF Tehnika is doing.
Getting in orders
Last 30 days we have seen a lot more business than usual. We are seeing very strong business in the USA and Asia, not so much in Europe and South America. Yesterday one of our US distributors even told me that this has been their best month in history. It’s difficult to say if this is sustainable.
Ability to fulfill orders
Our factory in Riga, Latvia is fully operational, no employee has been diagnosed with Covid-19 so far. Most “office rats” are now working from their homes. I have a feeling that we are more productive compared to before lockdown. Which is not too surprising, seeing as people have less distractions and are happy to have work at all. As I am writing, there are around 700 confirmed cases in Latvia, new cases in the country have been below 10 per day for a while. Latvia is among the least impacted countries in Europe and probably will recover quickly.
Our USA facility in Denver, CO is also operational, we are shipping and receiving goods daily. I am based in Denver. You probably have read how heavily impacted is the USA now. So, it feels uneasy here. A new trend we observe is that sometimes shipments get lost or stolen because offices of our customers are closed as people work from homes. Therefore, we have to apply more effort to coordinate the receiving of our shipments. But USA is a very entrepreneurial country. People don’t sit still and with all the technological, intellectual and financial resources – they will figure out how to overcome this. I am confident in the USA.
Another worry is lead-times of components. For a while our suppliers in Italy were in lock down and only now the operations are starting up again. China is almost back to normal, but Japan is starting to slow down. Shipping rates in EU and USA are stable but for shipments to South America we have seen an increase of costs 2 to 3 times. So, supply chain is hectic but still operational. Components lead-times get longer, and this might explain why cautious customers are placing larger orders now. For example, our e-band radio Integra-E now has a lead time of 30 weeks. This is because we received several large orders and now have to wait for re-supply on a portion of components.
Receiving orders is very nice but what counts is when you are paid. So far, we have been lucky and have not observed any payment delinquencies. Some customers in South America are a little slower but still seem to be safe. If the slowdown will continue a lot of companies will face liquidity issues so we must be prepared for that. Good news is that the Latvian Government is helping with export guarantees – recently theyimproved the export credit guarantee program.
Another area to monitor are exchange rates. For example, South American currencies are falling compared to USD and EUR and our products are getting more expensive there. USD and EUR so far are relatively stable which is good for us as an EU based manufacturer.
Looking for new opportunities
I believe that this is a time of change and new opportunities. Some companies will perish, and some will thrive. For example, I know a few factories in Latvia working three shifts just to fulfill the demand because of closed factories in other European countries.
We are doing all we can to stay vigilant and react quickly to the changing environment. It took just two weeks for SAF Tehnika to release the Aranet IoT product for efficient monitoring of human body temperature to help healthcare workers fight Covid-19. Now we are receiving enquiries from all over the world. Maybe you know medical clients in need of this? Please see the solution here: Aranet Medical Thermometer
Time will show where it will lead us.
As always, we will notify our partners and customers immediately if there is any impact to normal product delivery schedules. We have updated SAF Tehnika Corporate Presentation – if you have a moment, please check it here: SAF Corporate Presentation
We must help and support each other and let’s stay healthy!