Clark Rubber pivots to help fight Covid-19

By Sarah Stowe | 24 Aug 2020 View comments

A Queensland franchisee has proved fundamental to iconic retailer Clark Rubber’s pivot to help fight Covid-19.

The iconic Aussie retailer has added manufacturing PPE to its portfolio, with three franchisees taking up the call to add a production line to their retail business.

But it was Derek Geel, the Kawana Waters franchisee, who was pivotal in creating the Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved face shield, branded as Clark Rubber PPE.

Now two Victorian franchisees have joined in to help produce these items in their stores.

Sales via the website clarkrubber.com.au have begun to hospitals, medical professionals and the general public.

“We have already secured several orders, working directly with health authorities and hospitals in the Melbourne region,” said Matthew Nash, Clark Rubber’s general manager merchandise.

“The design is lightweight and very comfortable to wear, with the inclusion of our foam inserts. The design is easy to disinfect through the use of disinfecting wipes with our combination of elastic and hook and loop fasteners, making them multi-use as opposed to disposable,” he said.

“We needed a low-cost solution that we can make locally in big volumes. Some solutions out there involving technologies such as 3D printing simply can’t provide the volume required in a timely manner.

Clark Rubber pivots to produce face shields | Inside Franchise Business

Clark Rubber pivots to produce face shields | Inside Franchise Business

“We can produce up to 1,000 a week, ensuring continuity of stock with any large volume requirements, spread across the Clark Rubber network of 60 stores, we can achieve volumes of 60,000 a week, and we could probably help push more out if needed.”

Nash said the retail chain “jumped at the chance” to help Australians fight the pandemic, he said.

“One of our stores already had an industrial sewing machine and has increased the number of hours that machinery is being used. One store even found an employee that had specific sewing skills that will allows them to increase production once their sewing machine is set up in store.

“The key focus is to ensure we keep our teams busy and working.”

Clark Rubber CEO Anthony Grice told Inside Franchise Business, “Clark Rubber’s famous for providing solutions, good quality products.”

The retailer partnered with a number of local suppliers to take the new product from the drawing board to production. 

“This is an additional element that further supports our franchisees and our staff. We’ve been proud of keeping our teams on board,” Grice said.

As the retail chain stocks pool chemicals for customers to use at home, there may even be a longer shelf-life for the face shields to provide extra protection, post-Covid. 

Flexibility to respond to an ever-changing situation has helped franchise brands stay relevant, and trading.

For Clark Rubber the pivot has an added benefit.

“This is an entrepreneurial example of a locally-owned franchise business adapting during these uncertain times to do what they can to keep our community safe. The team at Clark Rubber identified a genuine need for these face masks, and we changed our processes to deliver a product that can be used widely within the community,” said Nash.