Paul Norbury, founder and chief executive of Cardwave
Is investing in difficult times an oxymoron? Perhaps, but if you’re an enabler for other manufacturing businesses, sometimes it’s a risk you have to take to allow the entire supply chain to be ready for better times. As an electronics supplier often involved at the design stage of large projects, we decided we couldn’t just sit back and wait for the market to pick up.
So we made a very considered decision to add a new service, with a view to consolidation, growth and supporting our customers and the supply chain.
Our core business is provisioning flash memory. We help customers select and source industrial grade memory with appropriate features to withstand required extremes of heat, cold or shocks, and with the right reliability levels: consumer grade flash memory and industrial grade are chalk and cheese. When the appropriate memory is sourced, we provision it with the customer’s data, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of cards per order.
When Covid-19 struck we experienced a downturn in business. But rather than tread water and wait for the pandemic to recede I decided to invest and extend our capabilities. We serve other businesses and buy from other businesses, and these were often suffering just like us. I wanted to support the supply chains we are part of as well as look after my business and its staff.
Cardwave invested in both our IT infrastructure in our UK and US operations, and in a state of the art UV printer. This enables us to print directly onto flash memory. What we print is up to the customer. It might be brand details or logos, but it’s just as likely to be serial numbers or asset codes that allow flash memory to be tracked and its lifecycle monitored.
Companies who want bespoke printing on their flash drives typically turn to the promotional gift market, but when they do this they get consumer grade memory that’s fine for using in something like a camera but isn’t robust enough to run something like a car navigation system or healthcare equipment. That kind of memory is our specialism, and the ability to do bespoke printing on it is a rare thing indeed. We’ve already secured a major contract supplying flash drives loaded with compliance and regulatory data to an international marine company.
I’m a firm believer in the ‘glass half full’ approach to life and to business. Yes, things are tough, and they’ll be tough for a while yet. But Cardwave is part of a supply chain, and right now companies need trusted supply chain partners more than ever. We’re continuing to support our supply chain, and generating new business, which is keeping people in work. That feels good right now. And as things ease, our investment should continue to support both Cardwave and our supply chain partners.