How does one do business ‘as usual’ in the midst of a global pandemic? One of the companies that’s adapting to the new normal is SUZOHAPP. What’s more, it’s taken the proactive step of wading into Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) manufacture. Nor is it limiting its efforts to the gaming sphere, donating PPE to the hard-pressed medical sector. Amidst all this, SUZOHAPP still has the time to look forward, as we discovered.
The world has changed since our meeting during ICE London! How have employees worldwide at SUZOHAPP adapted?
We were very fortunate going into the coronavirus crisis to have a pandemic contingency within our crisis plan. Additionally, with one of our manufacturing plants located in China, we had a head start in figuring out best practices to work effectively while maintaining social distancing. That being said, we’re still learning and there is a still a lot unknown that we will likely need to respond to as it seems that a second wave may be coming. The most important trait for us, was to learn how to be flexible and to adapt. As guidelines and recommendations for how to deal with the virus are constantly changing, we have changed our processes to be more fluid so we can react to these changes. We still have a large majority of our office staff working remotely and have extensive precautions in all our warehouses to keep everyone safe. Travel is still limited so all of our sales calls, both internally and externally, are all virtual. We’ve learned a great deal about what we can achieve without our regular tools and with these extra precautions so it’s likely that, even if things return to normal, we will keep a lot of our precautions and new practices in place.
How has SUZOHAPP products to date helped the industry in its recovery?
We have tried to do whatever we can to help our customers during these hard times. After the pandemic hit, there was a massive influx of personal protection products that hit the market of varying quality, consistency, pricing and relevance. In an effort to help guide the industry, SUZOHAPP launched the Personal Protection Line to help operators sift through the noise of all of these new options to find high-quality items relevant to the gaming industry, at fair prices that would be consistently available. While most large operators have cleaning companies that they are able to source a lot of PPE-type items from, many of the smaller operations were struggling to find products in the quantities they needed at affordable prices. Not only do we offer the standard masks, gloves, sanitizer and sanitizer dispensers but our gaming-specific items include separators to protect from air transmission between machines, chip cleaners, UV lights to sanitize game surfaces safely and much more. From an operational standpoint, ensuring continuity of service was our first big step to make sure customers that were open were able to get what they needed from us to keep their businesses running. We held shipments for companies that were closed so they would not have to pay right away. We worked with customers them on payment options. We picked up business lines that have been shut down by other manufactures to keep production lines running across the industry and sourced and even donated PPE such as masks etc to help everyone stay safe.
Was it enough? There’s so much need right now that nothing is enough, but we felt we had to take what strides we could to at least keep the industry and our customers operational.
How is your “Simplify Your Sourcing” approach performing with customers?
The depth of our portfolio is definitely one of our greatest strengths. This year, as with the rest of the industry, our focus is on sports betting. While there are a lot of new entrants to this market, most only exist in the digital sphere for sports betting. Alternatively, we aim to be the single source solution for hardware. Not only can we provide a multitude of peripheral items for sports-betting terminals but we actually have full turnkey solutions to be that “one stop shop” for sports betting companies looking to keep their focus on the digital aspects and outsource the hardware elements.
What was the reaction from MPAC Healthcare to the SUZOHAPP donation earlier this year of over 6,000 surgical masks?
We were overwhelmed by the amount of gratitude from MPAC, which was a true testament to how dire the situation was at the time. As we considered how to put the masks that we had to best use, we did some soul searching to evaluate who we are as a company and where the need was greatest (though the need was and continues to be everywhere). SUZOHAPP has been in the industry now for over 30 years and has a long memory. Some of our amazing team members and many of our longstanding customers have been with us from the beginning. When we considered that those friends and colleagues were the people most vulnerable to the effects of the virus it became immediately apparent that we had to put our efforts towards helping where we saw that weakness.
MPAC supplies nurses and medical staff to the elderly in nursing homes, a category that continues to be hardest hit by the virus. The statistics that we were seeing at the time regarding supplies and staff at nursing homes were concerning and we felt we had to do something. The nurses of MPAC sent us thank you cards and photos of them being able to put those masks to immediate use. Even with masks on, you could see the relief and gratitude in having the tools they needed to keep them safe in their jobs and keep their patients safe.
How are your products sales performing in the fast-growing sports betting sector?
We will definitely see the continued rise of online gaming and sports betting as we come out of this. As an industry, we will need to adapt to get with the times and remote play, given the current situation, is a hot market. We will likely see more integrations with mobile phones, either through contactless payments or perhaps in actual gameplay.
There is a myriad of possibilities of how casinos might get into the online gaming space and we are already seeing sports betting take its place on the casino floor.
For us at SUZOHAPP, we want to be the single source offering not only the peripherals for sportsbetting terminals but full turnkey solutions for sportsbetting hardware.
Our sportsbetting products are performing exceptionally well as we have recently secured a partnership with a major player in the market (which you will likely hear about in the coming months). It is clear to us that sportsbetting is definitely where the future growth of the industry lies and we will be there with it to see it grow.
Looking ahead to 2021 what will be amongst the main objectives for SUZOHAPP?
While we’ve certainly had our hands full in 2020 with reacting to pandemic crisis, we decided early on that we couldn’t let this crisis change who we are and that any reaction we took would need to still adhere to our values and our mission. Our motto “Simplify Your Sourcing” is the anchor we use to guide our planning and decision-making when it comes to our product offering. Globally, there have been scale backs and downsizings that have really made sourcing difficult for a lot of manufacturers and even operators, which hurts the industry and compounds the difficulties that we are already going through because of the pandemic. For 2021, our intent is not only to continue to serve as we have for years with our large product offering but to also pick up where others have dropped off to really be that streamlined source.
Many businesses are trying to do more with a leaner staff, so the cost of the time spent trying to source multiple products individually is much higher than it used to be. We want to help with that. We’ve obviously had setbacks along the way and anticipate that we will continue to face more obstacles with potential reclosures in the colder months being a big barrier to getting stock, but we continue to do our best to overcome those challenges to ensure our customers have what they need.
This Interview was undertaken in December 2020