Cambridge Mask CEO Q&A with BNN Bloomberg: Managing High Demand due to the Coronavirus Outbreak
With the COVID-19 now present in several countries, many companies are unable to match the demand for the masks needed by people. In an interview with Bloomberg, our Founder and Chief Executive Officer talked about the high quality production standards of our mask and how our company is managing the high demand due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
BLOOMBERG: Get us started with how much of an impact your business is seeing from this outbreak?
CAMBRIDGE MASK: It’s been completely overwhelming. We are small business and we’ve been absolutely flooded with demand. Sales 12-15 times what we would normally expect and we had to deal with something like eleven hundreds Customer Service inquiries every single day. So it’s taking a lot of effort from the team and we working all hours we got to try and deliver masks to those people who need them.
BLOOMBERG: What has that meant for your supply chain? Because I know that some of the masks are also assemble within China and Indonesia. We have seen China actually implement some bans when it comes to export of these masks.
CAMBRIDGE MASK: Yes, that’s right. We use British military technology developed for chemical, nuclear and biological warfare technology in the mask that’s manufactured in the UK. But the mask are assemble in Indonesia and China. Export.. we are actually facial personal protective equipment, rather than medical mask used in hospital. So we are able to export and to supply customers in over 70 countries around the world. We are pre-ordering on our website now.
BLOOMBERG: Chris, how easy is it to ramp up production given the demand has surged too. What’s the lesson learned in terms on how quickly you’re able to try meet demand?
CAMBRIDGE MASK: Well, unfortunately we are not a software company so we can’t just buy more server capacity. It’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of hours from the production team.
Particularly with a product company you’re only as fast as your slowest component. So we have to work very hard to make sure all of our suppliers are able to meet our demands. With factory closures in China, even if we’ve got people in our production facility, our suppliers may not have, and the raw material suppliers might not have. It has taken a couple of weeks to gear everything up. But fortunately we now about 10 times from our normal output so we should be able to meet the demand that is being thrown at us the moment from our website.
BLOOMBERG: Does that include an expectation over rising demand now outside of China, from the North America market from markets like Australia as well?
CAMBRIDGE MASK: We had two booms, one was in late January-early February as China start deteriorating rapidly. There was big increase in demand from Hong Kong, surrounding China and domestically in China as well and then, things calm down quite a bit. We had second surge as Italy got bad, as Europe started to react and America getting more severe.
We expected to see a second boom or third boom come through from USA as the situation deteriorates then, as well.
BLOOMBERG: Who are your biggest customer? Do you work directly with governments as well?
CAMBRIDGE MASK: We actually supply the government of Nepal and a number of U.S embassies have also ordered for their diplomatic teams as well as British, German and Swiss embassies. We do work with corporates so…, this is the British Airways mask we are made that they given up to first class passenger going to Delhi and Beijing a while ago.
So we do a lot of corporate partnerships as well. We’ve delivered to Deliveroo for example for their riders in the UK to protect them from air pollution more generally.
So that’s a lot of different use cases. But I found the company because I was working in China and I saw a lot of young kids get sick from air pollution. They were growing up kind of thinking the sky should be coloured in grey in pictures and coughing all day was normal. I felt no child should believe that as a normal experience. So I developed a mask that can help protect children and adults from air pollution. Now we’ve seen these massive global demand as well. So, we are working as hard as we can to help as many people as we can.
BLOOMBERG: But we’re getting sort of mix messages when it come to how affective these mask are. What do you think?
CAMBRIDGE MASK: It is very frustrating hearing people in very elevated position say blanket statements like ‘mask don’t work’, because a mask is… you know …there’s huge spectrum of what a mask is. You can have full face thing with military technology and will filter pretty much everything under the sun. Or, you can have a little piece of paper surgical mask or cotton fabric which of course isn’t going to do a lot for you.
As I mentioned earlier our mask use a military technology developed for chemical, nuclear and biological warfare protection, they are tested filter 99.99 percent of viruses.
We have a huge battery of tests from all kinds of government labs in US, Europe, Asia, all over the world and showing they are effective.
So when I’m flying with my daughter, who’s three and half years old on an airplane, I give her one of our mask and I know she’s safe.
We have thousands customer all over the world have really severe respiratory diseases or low immune systems, doing chemotherapy. It is absolutely vital they get a mask that they can trust and know works and I can give that confidence.
BLOOMBERG: Chris, presuming you’re not sick. Are you wearing a mask when you’re out and about these days?
CAMBRIDGE MASK: In the UK until recently not so much. But there’s actually been two cases confirmed in the area where I live in the UK now. Maybe start considering if you come in close contact with people, because you can be asymptomatic for 14 days. If you’re dealing with a young children or very elderly people, there’s a small chance that you may be carrying the virus.
In my personal opinion it can be worthy wearing the mask, of course everyone has to take their own decision and seek medical advice whether they should wearing one or not.