When speed counts

For OCS New Zealand, preparation began immediately when signs of a pandemic were looming, from reviewing processes, shoring up supply lines and seeking expert advice.

In January 2020 the world looked on as a growing health problem emerged from China. By mid-March it was evident the world was in the grips of a pandemic and New Zealand moved rapidly to close its borders and enforce a nationwide lockdown on its citizens on 22 March.

For OCS New Zealand, preparation began immediately when signs of a pandemic were looming, from reviewing processes, shoring up supply lines and seeking expert advice. The team knew lives were going to be at stake and needed to ensure they were ready to meet challenges head on.

Watching the situation closely from his Auckland office, Gareth Marriott, OCS Australia & New Zealand Managing Director, reached out to key partner chief executives across the globe.

His mission, to open those lines of communication early, seeking commitments to break down supply barriers if and when they arose and protecting the community and people of Australia and New Zealand as much as he was able.

That action opened communication lines which have remained in place, ensuring greater access to a true global economy. The impact of the lockdown, when it came, was immediate.

Along with the closure of some key customer businesses, other essential services ramped up, meaning OCS was fighting fires at both ends of the business – trying to keep up with increased and changing (sometimes daily) demand along with moving the business to allow for closures with an indeterminant time frame.

“We needed every member of our organisation to step-up to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic while being protected themselves,” said Marriott. “But more than that, we also needed our supply-chain partners to step-up.”

Fast changing environment

The New Zealand government acted rapidly to keep its citizens safe by closing the border to all but New Zealand citizens and residents, but risk was everywhere with international media reports fuelling panic and paranoia.

While uncertainty was a given, what was known was that the virus could live for days on surfaces, making thorough and frequent cleaning with the right chemicals and equipment an essential part of preventing the spread COVID-19.

This meant OCS would be at the forefront of helping contain the spread. Best-practice information from the World Health Organisation, health officials and government departments came thick and fast – much of it being contradicted by other governments around the world.

Products considered best in field pre-COVID were suddenly debunked and equally, application and products had to evolve quickly. With hysteria world-wide, cleaning products like disinfectant and hand sanitiser, and PPE including masks and gloves were hoarded and overnight, stocks were depleted leaving the essential service organisations that needed the products most scrambling to secure stock.

OCS needed certainty that the products they were using would meet latest certification standards and equally, needed certainty of supply as organisations across the globe sought to ‘stock up’.

“We needed to know how best to tackle this evolving situation, to cut through the hysteria and ensure we were asking the right questions,” said Marriott.

“So we contacted Professor Michael Baker, one of New Zealand’s leading epidemiologists.”

Baker was able to provide up to the minute advice about transfer of the disease, how to protect staff and customers as well as a host of other information which the team were able to use to update their pandemic standard operating procedures and immediately implement across the country. He also recommended that OCS ensure we were getting up to date, best practice cleaning and hygiene advice from global experts.

Partnership Made Personal

For Marriott and the global OCS team, Partnership Made Personal was a brand promise delivered as part of their rebrand earlier this year – one that Marriott fully embraces.

“During the pandemic one of our key concerns was protection of our frontline team members and our customers – as well as the New Zealand community,” explained Marriott.

“Part of that solution was being able to lean on the depth and authenticity of conversations we can have every day with our partners. And that’s where our partnership with Diversey came to the fore – they’re a global leader in healthcare and infection prevention products and solutions.”

When supply looked tight and OCS needed additional guidance on chemical application, OCS’ long-term relationship with Diversey meant help was only a phone call away.

A quick and frank conversation between the two organisations fast-tracked a guaranteed product supply and access to best-in-field chemicals.

“We had complete confidence that Diversey would be able to supply us with both EPA and TGA certified products that were safe for humans and weren’t going to cause issues with the surfaces they were applied to,” said Gavin Upston, OCS NZ Operations Director.

“Customers were asking us to provide sanitation to surfaces such as soft furnishing and the inside of vehicles. We needed to ensure the products wouldn’t cause damage to upholstery and other finishes – and we didn’t have time to undertake our own vigorous testing.”

Having a global brand like Diversey on the team added increased certainty for both OCS’ team members and their customers, particularly when it came to adhering to Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation evolving best-practice guidelines.

“We had the information at our fingertips from a global leader in infection control products,” said Marriott. “We were completely transparent with everyone as to the efficacy of the products and the systems and processes we were operating – providing confidence for customers and our frontline team members.”

Next level service

“As the country moved into lockdown we raced to supply our essential service customers and our frontline team with the necessary tools and services they would require to keep New Zealand safe,” said Upston.

“A global supply shortage saw a few worried moments, but a quick call to Diversey saw an immediate response. Brendon Guerin, New Zealand Country Manager at Diversey, literally hooked up a trailer with 2.2 tonnes of disinfectant and sanitisation products and delivered them to our branch managers across New Zealand on the Thursday before Easter – who in turn distributed it amongst our customers.”

Further emphasising the partnership approach, Guerin joined the OCS team to meet with the heads of key essential service customers. “Having Brendon on board at those meetings enabled us to provide an extra layer of assurance and confidence to our customers,” said Upston.

“He was able to bring a global perspective, and showcased innovations that were best in field – in the world! That made a massive difference for both ourselves and our customers in ensuring their safety, and that of the wider ‘Team of Five Million’.”

Having a partner like Diversey provided the OCS team with a level of supply confidence that many of their competitors failed to have. They had direct access to a global supply chain through an organisation able to pivot and flex its production lines and service delivery to meet the unprecedented demand – for their Oxivir product alone Diversey experienced 20 times normal demand.

“In a volatile and rapidly evolving situation there isn’t time to second guess the quality of your partnerships.”

“Organisations must start acting authentically and building those partnerships before a crisis. Without the depth of our relationship, we wouldn’t have been able to meet our customer demands, and in this situation, that could have cost lives,” said Marriott.

Partnership Made Personal is brought to life by the OCS New Zealand team through their genuine care for all their partners, communities and team members. Their individual dedication to being the best they can be provides real results – social, fiscal and long-lasting.

“Protecting the public against COVID-19 is an all hands-on deck issue. When OCS called us, we acted without hesitation to assist them in keeping New Zealand safe. Diversey has always been a pioneer in providing cleaning and sanitisation technologies. Our customers have total assurance across sectors that the product, systems and services we supply are the best in field.

“Our purpose is to protect and care for people every day. Everything we do has our customers’ needs at its heart and is based on the belief that cleaning and hygiene are life essentials.’

“The reciprocal nature of our partnership with OCS New Zealand means we can confidently operate a high-trust model. Gareth is an authentic and genuine leader, his word is his bond. That means a lot – we will always go that extra mile to support those businesses which align with our own values.” – Phil Wieland, Global Chief Executive Office at Diversey, Inc.

About OCS New Zealand

OCS is the largest facilities management services company in New Zealand, with almost 4,000 team members providing nationwide services – from Kaitaia to Invercargill. They provide cleaning, hygiene, waste management, pest control, and maintenance and building services for customers in sectors including aviation, retail, healthcare, government, education and corporates.

About Diversey

Diversey’s purpose is to protect and care for people every day. Diversey has been, and always will be, a pioneer and facilitator for life. They constantly seek to deliver revolutionary cleaning and hygiene technologies that provide total confidence to customers across all our global sectors. These include: facility management, health care, hospitality, retail and food service; in addition to food and beverage. Everything they do is based on the implicit belief that cleaning and hygiene are life essentials and that what we undertake constitutes a vital service.