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How committing to people fueled a pandemic pivot

Maritime company Rocket transformed to help protect their staff, their customers and their community.

Rocket company van

When businesses across Canada were suspending operations, Rocket – a printing company with deep community roots – started to feel the pressure. Clearly, something had to change. 

>Watch the full Rocket story now

Before the pandemic hit, Rocket was known as a large commercial printer that made products such as educational materials, books, packaging, car wraps and decals. But as the world began to change, their customers began to react. “All of a sudden, the phones were ringing—not to print, but to put everything on hold,” shares Customer Service Representative, Joanne Rogers. “In 72 hours, we lost over $1 million in business,” recalls CEO Scott Williams.  

Rocket had built a strong company culture and they weren’t prepared to let anyone go without a fight. “We decided we were going to keep everyone working,” says Scott. But the decision wasn’t without risk. “You could see the weight of the world come off their shoulders. Now the weight of the world was on ours… There was no playbook for this.”

(Our team members) are at the core of who we are—without them we are literally nothing.

Scott Williams, CEO, Rocket

The leadership at Rocket looked to their staff and the needs of their community for ways they could transform. “I went home and told my wife,” reflects Darren Milley, Large Format Print Specialist. “She’s a nurse and she asked if we could make masks and shields.” So, the team got together and figured out how to reimagine their printing business to make much-needed safety equipment. “It was really only about a 24-hour period from when we said we could do this to when we had our first order,” says Scott. It was a change that made a world of difference.

We knew that every product we sold was keeping our staff employed one more day.

Kevin Johnston, VP Marketing & Strategy.

This smart shift would literally transform lives: all Rocket employees would remain employed—from accounting to sales to planning to line workers in the warehouse—but their new output would put valuable PPE into the hands of those who needed it most. To do so, staying connected between team members, suppliers and clients was essential. “Everyone was using their cell phones 24/7. Face-to-face wasn’t available. Email and telephones became our lifeline with our clients,” shares Debbie Wadden, Office Administration and Reception.

“I have a receptionist console that let me figure out where everybody was. It was jammed with calls, but I could transfer them properly to get questions and concerns answered.” Debbie credits the service from Rogers as much as the tools. “When we needed help, they were always there for us—and quickly.”

Man and looking at facial protection

Part of Rocket’s success came from their ability to complete business-as-usual tasks during a time when business was anything but usual. With seamless connections between remote workers, plants and clients, employees could work wherever they needed to be—all while helping to transition the business. 

Leaning on company culture

Rocket never lost sight of their commitment to putting people first. This is clear in how they operated before and during the pandemic. As Scott says, “I’ve always been proud of the team. At the core of who we are, our team members are our employees and without them, we literally are nothing.” With a collaborative spirit and an always-available leadership team, the staff at Rocket felt valuable and heard. Rocket was able to rely on them fully during this shift—even if that meant 2am phone calls to make sure that Velcro was available for the next order! All levels of management took shifts on a 24-hour/day schedule to make enough PPE to fill the influx of orders. It truly became a story about people, helping people, helping people. 

Filling the gap

Digital printing services were no longer an immediate priority for many of their clients, but Rocket quickly discovered a shortage in the PPE space and their ability to close the gap. “We stepped up to help the community and local businesses so they could open and open safely,” says Joanne. 

Taking the risk to make a change 

With change comes opportunity. Encouraging everyone to share their ideas and to let go of legacy behaviours can go a long way. Rocket went from printing to working with acrylic in a shift that took about 24 hours: a shift that put face shields in hospitals, dividers in dentist offices and confidence back to an entire community. “To take that risk—with caution—and to trust your instincts can go a long way,” said Kevin.

Partners make a difference

Feeling supported with tools that make sense for business? That’s the Rogers business advantage. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of Rogers,” reflects Kevin. From transitioning client meetings to emails and taking orders over the phone, a reliable partner can make all the difference. “I used the services portal constantly. You could email. You could phone. And there was always someone there with an answer” says Debbie.

Facing your own business transformation? Contact your local Rogers for Business representative to find new ways to keep your team connected.