Since 1958, Over Teak from Barletta has been working with success, especially abroad, in the market of occupational and safety shoes with the brand Uniwork. We asked one of the owners to tell us how the pandemic affected the company and which strategies it used in facing it.
What repercussions did the pandemic have on your business?
The complete shutdown of all activities negatively impacted production, which was immediately suspended, but we continued to ship out orders that were already in stock to medical-related industries, while continuing to recycle waste and undertake other activities that were still permitted during the lockdown. This allowed us to alleviate some of the negative effects of the overall halt in business. Just as soon as the lockdown was over, we restarted with our complete workforce.
How have you reacted to the new state of things? What strategies have you adopted in facing the new situation?
Our very first thought went to all our workers and we did what was possible to guarantee a completely safe working environment, periodically sanitizing the spaces and equipping our workforce with additional personal protective equipment. In terms of strategy, we were able to count on a warehouse of goods available for immediately delivery, which allowed us to quickly deliver footwear orders, often within the course of the day, thus satisfying the demands of our clientele that is 90% foreign in origin (above all from France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and in general all of Europe).
In your opinion, did the pandemic change the needs of consumers and companies in their safety footwear purchasing requirements? For example, with the focus now more oriented towards hygiene and health, did it influence or will it influence what the consumer looks for also in the field of safety shoes?
I do not believe that the pandemic changed the needs of professional clientele, also because occupational and safety footwear already replied to safety standard requirements in terms of protection, hygiene, health, etc.
Today, what features are considered most important in a safety shoe?
Without a doubt, the features considered most important in the choice of a safety shoe are comfort, lightness, and design. In this sense, the pandemic only confirmed the validity of on-going trends in the safety market.
Among the new products on which you are focusing, there is also the Urban Line and the Urban PU 2D sole. What are its main features?
The Urban line, as already inferred by the name, was designed to get as close as possible to the aesthetic features and comfort of a lifestyle shoe, while naturally respecting all of the safety standards required in a pair of occupational shoes. This means the line and colours recall those of a sneaker, while the polyurethane sole presents a design that makes it lighter and more comfortable than traditional safety and professional footwear. It is accordingly a 360-degree product recommended for all workers, who can wear it at work, but also for various non work-related occasions, for many hours a day.
In February 2020, Over Teak decided to update its production organisational structure so that it complies with SA8000:2014 social certification standard requirements, which calls for the prevention of all forms of discrimination while protecting the health and safety of workers. What was behind this decision?
We are very satisfied and proud to have obtained this important certification in October 2020. I believe it is more of a guarantee than ever before of our way of operating, while emphasising our respect for our workers and all our collaborators and customers with whom we meet. We are a company that has always focused on quality, while also respecting people and their environments, and we are proud of this.