How agile businesses are meeting the demands of sudden, unexpected supply gaps

“Necessity is the root of all invention”, begins a Facebook announcement by local photographic print business, Brilliant Prints. It continues, “With photo shoots around the country on hold, we have been forced to try to come up with ideas to keep us from standing down our loyal staff. This morning, we received a call from a medical practice asking if we could make a protective screen for their reception staff. Given that we cut acrylic for photo prints every day, we quickly developed a prototype that the people who have seen it love. If you know anyone who works in a medical clinic, vet, physio, chiro, dentist or any other frontline worker, we would really appreciate you sharing it around. The website is We can ship Australia-wide within 24-48 hours and offer free delivery in Brisbane.”

Image source via Covid Screen Australia

That’s an ingenious way one of thousands of Aussie businesses has found to diversify and fill a growing need. While the coronavirus crisis has sent shockwaves through industries Australia-wide, many, when faced with adversity, have chosen to rise to the challenge by meeting a sudden change in demand for certain supplies. Everyone knows the Quilton factories have been working around the clock – literally operating 24/7 – to meet our toilet paper hoarding needs. But what’s even more impressive are the businesses that identify a new gap in the market and act fast to fill it.

Did you know that alcohol distilleries all over Australia are now manufacturing and selling hand sanitiser? Yes, now you can enjoy your isolation, sipping on some Archie Rose Gin with hands that are fragrantly sterile with the botanicals usually reserved for their spirits. If you want their grapefruit, cassia, cardamom and thyme sanitiser, you may have to join an enthusiastic waiting list, or simply try Brisbane Distillery, Cape Byron Distillery, Tambourine Mountain Distillery, Wise Wine or one of the dozens of others making their own bottles of the clean stuff.

Image source via Archie Rose

While dwindling medical supplies sent feelings of dread through much of our community, several people and businesses acted fast to come to the rescue. Erebus Motorsport used its Supercars workshop and team in Melbourne to develop full face masks and a protective perspex box to shield health care workers from infected patients. The Erebus Dandenong workshop then went into full swing, manufacturing the equipment for distribution. The design for the ventilation masks was adapted from a 3D printed snorkelling mask, making them quick and easy to mass produce.

Another Australian business that have been fast to meet demands is South Australian packaging company Detmold Group. They are employing around 160 new staff to produce surgical masks and respirators to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The South Australian and Federal Governments have placed an order for 145 million masks between them, which are being manufactured at Detmold’s plant in Brompton, Adelaide.

Image source via Detmold Group

Medical professionals and frontline workers all around the nation have been most concerned about their own ‘toilet roll’ challenge – that is being faced with empty shelves when trying to access essential PPE for safely treating coronavirus patients. Supply challenges aren’t holding these resourceful Australians back. ABC News reports, “A large centralised group involving Victorian university staff, clinicians and manufacturers has been working tirelessly to develop suitable products and to co-ordinate the supply and demand of these essential items, and it has begun to network with other similar groups across Australia and internationally.”

Image source via ABC News

The group has reached out to local engineers and manufacturers to produce necessities including face shields, PPE masks, hooded oxygen respirators, ventilators and ventilator parts. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has even come to the party by creating a rapid approval process for COVID-related equipment.

These are just some of the many ways inventive businesses have found to grow with the changing marketplace. Has your business or one you know of found a clever way to evolve during this time? We’d love to hear about it! Share your story with us on LinkedIn or Instagram.

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