Andrew Garnett President and CEO of Special Needs Group

Business As Unusual: Special Needs Group

Andrew Garnett, from Special Needs Group, discusses the impact of coronavirus on his local business in the second of this series from Lifestyle Media Group

Lifestyle reached out to businesspeople all over South Florida—in categories ranging from retail and real estate to medical and automotive—and asked three questions: How did COVID-19 and the shutdown impact your business; how did you position your business in the interim; how will experiencing this unprecedented pandemic change the way you conduct business moving forward. Today, we check in with Special Needs Group.

 

 

Andrew Garnett, President and CEO

 

Business backstory: The Dania Beach-based business is a leading global provider of special-needs equipment rentals, including wheelchairs, scooters and oxygen. The company is closely tied to the travel industry, providing service in 215 ports and cities in 68 countries for patrons visiting resorts, going on cruises, attending conventions, etc. (specialneedsatsea.com)

The impact: “We’re a company uniquely working in two different spaces. The first and most-affected side of our business is travel-related. With no cruises sailing and [much of the] planet not traveling, that part of our business is basically on pause. The other side of the business is medical equipment. We have received calls—from [people in] California [and as far away as] Italy—asking about availability of our oxygen equipment and hospital beds. I hope they’re not needed, but we’re preparing them just in case. … We didn’t shut down because I see this as a temporary situation. However, I did have to temporarily furlough [much of] our staff. There simply isn’t much if anything for them to do. We also looked to cut other costs wherever we could. … All of these decisions are made to make it through the short term and to ensure the longevity of the company.”

In the interim: “We are just catching up on anything pending and making sure that we will be prepared for the possible avalanche of orders once people can visit the world in person and not just virtually.”

The future: “This experience has taught me that our business needs to diversify more. I know that no one could have predicted that the entire travel industry would be put on hold, but the realization of that happening has enlightened me. Having more than one stream of income would be ideal right now. Check back with us, and you will see new products and services being offered in the near future.”

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