As part of InClean New Zealand’s ‘Industry Leaders Forum 2022’, NXP GM Sales David Box was asked to present his insights on the lessons, challenges and opportunities facing the BSC industry as we come to terms with the most complex phase of the pandemic yet. Read on discover how the industry is responding to change, and why now is the perfect time to incorporate innovation into your business model.
How was 2021 for NXP? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?
The unpredictable nature of 2021 presented NXP with its fair share of mountains to climb, but it also gave us the chance to seek out new opportunities and develop innovative solutions to strengthen a BSC industry struggling with choked supply chains and rising labour costs.
We acquired The Service Company (TSC) at the tail end of 2020, so integrating the two businesses was a huge focus for us in 2021. Bringing TSC into the NXP fold has had all kinds of positive impacts for both companies, but two highlights in particular stand out. Firstly, The Service Company has a long track record of meeting the varied needs of BSC customers with expert, personalised service. Bringing that kind of industry experience and excellence into NXP has empowered us to support our BSC customers better than ever before. Secondly, acquiring TSC has allowed us to avoid some of the supply chain headaches which have been plaguing the industry. TSC has been producing cleaning chemicals in New Zealand for over 12 years, so it’s easier than ever for us to supply our customers with high quality, environmentally certified chemicals and products. This has also enabled us to develop new, innovative chemical products to help our BSC clients in this COVID-impacted times.
This year saw an easing off in demand for our usual BSC products (chemicals, paper, etc), so we quickly pivoted to new avenues to make up the difference. Unsurprisingly, PPE was a strong point for us in 2021: we saw a big jump in the sale of masks and gloves in particular, and we increased our direct sourcing to keep a competitive edge in pricing.
Our other major focus for 2021 was discovering and sourcing innovative products which solved key pain points for the BSC sector. For example, our specially imported Wilmop50 upright scrubber dryer allowed for a faster clean and reduced manpower; our relationship with Greenspeed brought a new generation of highly efficient, sustainably created cloths and mops to New Zealand cleaners; and our own brand of exclusively manufactured Care Soft paper products presented cleaning companies with a value for money option that’s still kind to the environment.
Is there an achievement you’re particularly proud of from the past 12 months?
More than anything, I think it would be the success of NXPlanet, our ethically sourced range of sustainable and socially conscious products. Over the course of the year, we continued to add new products, support social enterprise, and encourage eco-conscious buying behaviour with our opt-in product alternative programme, Sustainable Choices.
In particular, we’re really proud of how NXPlanet is giving our customers an edge: enabling them to show their commitment to sustainability in measurable, concrete terms.
What will be the immediate focus for NXP in 2022?
For a start, we want to continue to provide services and products that help our customers deal with the difficulties presented by the pandemic. Whether that’s through on-demand PPE, rapid antigen tests or new innovative solutions that are still emerging, we’re committed to helping Kiwi businesses thrive in spite of COVID-19.
A new focus for NXP in 2022 will be increasing our training and site audit capabilities. We aim to be face-to-face with our customers all across the country, giving them the knowledge and confidence they need to really own their position as a BSC specialist, and to keep their own customers healthy and safe.
How has the public’s expectations of ‘clean’ changed as a result of the pandemic?
I think as a society we really understand now why good hygiene matters. There’s definitely a lot more awareness around how safe our environments are, and when people say “clean” now, they’re interested in a space being sanitised, safe and healthy – whereas in the past, “cleaning” a space might have just meant tidying up. Before the pandemic, cleaning the air was almost unheard of, but now businesses are starting to turn to air purification solutions.
What impact will these new expectations have on the industry, in terms of cleaning standards and processes, in 2022?
As people return to work for the year, they need to feel safe and looked after: that means coming back to a workplace that they can trust is hygienic. For the BSC industry, this means that being able to prove the effectiveness of your products and procedures is more crucial than ever.
The good news is that BSC experts are in a position to provide customers with that sense of security, with solutions like non-touch soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers and air purification all contributing to a workplace that not only is safe and hygienic, but feels that way too.
What are the opportunities and challenges you see for the wider commercial cleaning industry in 2022?
Cost of labour is going to continue to be a challenge for the industry, so finding practical products and solutions that save time and manpower will be key, as well as leaning into automation wherever possible. It also looks like working from home will continue to be a trend this year, which ultimately means less workspaces to clean – finding alternative revenue streams to compensate for this will be another widespread industry challenge.
In terms of opportunities, there’s all the new services that businesses will be demanding as we shift towards living with COVID-19, like fogging and air purification. But there’s a bigger opportunity here than just reactively providing services. This is the time to be prescriptive with customers, leveraging industry expertise to say, “These are the things you need to have for a safe and healthy workplace.”
What is the one issue in the industry that you would like to see addressed?
The big one is supply chain difficulties. At NXP, we’re tackling this challenge on a few different fronts: we’ve got Care4, our own brand of Environmental Choice New Zealand certified BSC products; we’re developing cleaning hardware; we’ve focused on nurturing key relationships with global suppliers; and we’re importing exclusive brands. Our priority is ensuring that our customers get the products they need, when they need them.
What advice would you give to fellow leaders in the cleaning industry?
Don’t be afraid to innovate – it’s more important than ever. Look to discover new products and solutions that will save you time and money, then build those innovations into your business model. Remember: you’re the expert here, so you should be telling your customers exactly which products they need to stay safe. And of course, partnering with the right kind of suppliers – ones who have the broad industry knowledge and product depth to effectively serve your business – makes a huge difference.