Upholstery Company Temporarily Switches to Mask-Making During COVID, Relied on Cloud Communications System to Help “Keep the Doors Open”

April 14, 2021

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Introducing the Intermedia Business Innovators series – where Intermedia honors business and civic leaders who are improving customer care, employee engagement, and operations through innovative thinking and decisive action.

Hear the stories from the innovators first-hand.

Small businesses are the heartbeat of America. Their importance in the economy and community may be greater now than ever before. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many pivoted to help those in need and to stay in business. Those changes in operations, including supporting remote employees, required technology shifts, as well.

One business with an admirable story to tell is Royal Upholstery. They’ve been around since 1957 and are a multi-generational, family-owned company located in Spokane, Washington. Royal Upholstery specialize in supplying upholstery products, serving the Pacific Northwest and other nearby regions. When COVID hit, the company had to make some big decisions.

The first decision they had to make was how to could keep employees connected, collaborative, and productive with most now working remotely.  The decision second was how to keep the business running at a time when upholstery products suddenly dropped in demand at the beginning of the pandemic.

To get the answers to these questions, I recently chatted with Kameron Stahlman, Assistant Purchaser and Database Manager at Royal Upholstery who supports the software and technology needs for the company.

Becoming Essential and Switching to Mask-Making

When the pandemic initially struck, prompting shelter in place mandates that changed the face of work and life in general, Royal Upholstery management pivoted quickly to address the new reality.  Mr Stahlman shares the story, “We came up with an alternative to keep everyone working by becoming mask makers.  We bought a lot of elastic and cloth and started making masks in four sizes.”

The company ended up shipping masks to people all over the country. And if people/organizations couldn’t afford them, they donated the masks. The money they did receive was reinvested back into materials to keep the company running, and their staff employed.

Outdated Legacy Phone Systems Weren’t Cutting It

Strong communication is key to the success of any business. But for Royal Upholstery, their on-premises phone system was a massive barrier to their ability to succeed in the new landscape. The existing solution was about 20 years old, and Mr. Stahlman shared that there was only “one guy left in Spokane who knew how to program them.”

With all employees initially working from home, answering the office phone was impossible. “There was no way to participate in the business remotely. We needed a system that would work outside of the physical space, so when we heard about Intermedia it was perfect timing to help keep our business going,” Mr. Stahlman said.

In looking to migrate to a more flexible system, the company focused on affordability and productivity improvements. They decided Intermedia’s all-in-one cloud communications and collaboration system – Intermedia Unite® – was the best match. Intermedia Unite combines a feature-rich business phone system with video, chat, file collaboration and more all on one integrated, secure, reliable, easy-to-use, deploy, and manage platform. Plus, Unite’s mobile and desktop apps allow users to have the same features and functionality whether in the office, at home, or on the road – with seamless transition between devices.

The team at Royal Upholstery soon discovered the many benefits of the solution. They enjoy the integrated “presence” feature which allows them to see if a colleague is on the phone or at their desk before a call is transferred. The chat feature is another favorite that keeps everyone up to date on customer orders and other information.

Mr. Stahlman noted that users appreciate the voicemail transcripts and not having to dial in and remember a pin to check their messages.

White Glove Onboarding and 24/7 J.D. Power-certified Technical Support Included

In addition to Intermedia Unite helping the Royal Upholstery team stay connected and collaborative from wherever they were, Mr. Stahlman appreciated how smooth the setup and installation process was despite the depth of features and functionality. “What’s really cool is your support. They respond the same day and answer questions completely,” said Mr. Stahlman.

He noted how Intermedia support helped guide him through setting up the IVR (interactive voice response) feature, which was new to him but very valuable. “You have good online support forums too,” noted Mr. Stahlman. “And if I can’t find what I need, I reach out to support.”

All employees are now back in the office. It’s a workplace that requires staff to be on-site; however, now they have flexibility if someone needs to work from home or is away. In the end, Mr. Stahlman said Intermedia was “a lifesaver.”

“Without it, we would have been a skeleton crew, and it helped us keep the doors open and keep people employed. We’re super grateful that we found you guys when we did, and it’s affected everyone in the building.”

Watch the full interview with Mr. Stahlman and hear more about the company’s transformation.

Scott Anderson

Scott Anderson is Intermedia's Chief Marketing Officer, and is responsible for Intermedia global marketing, including product, brand, direct, channel, demand, and digital marketing, as well as internal/external communications.

April 14, 2021

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