Adapting to Thrive
McCarthy Fabrication Manufactures a New Opportunity — and a Partnership
By Davia Moss
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
— Thomas Jefferson
At some point during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders, sales came to a halt at McCarthy Fabricators LLC, a small custom residential and commercial metal fabrication company in Sanford.
“My partner, Elliott Ramirez, and I started brainstorming on ideas to keep the business going,” CEO Charles McCarthy said. “We were in a tough spot, faced with the very real possibility of having to lay off our employees.”
This scenario, unfortunately, became all too familiar to many Central Florida business owners during this extreme time. As if health concerns weren’t enough, business leaders have had to find ways to keep as many of their people as possible gainfully employed while also answering the evolving needs of customers.
“We had to make a choice and act on it: lay off our employees or start fabricating metal hand sanitation stations and get a new revenue stream from sales on a buyer’s search engine,” McCarthy said. “After all, we felt assured in knowing that this wasn’t a shot-in-the-dark risk. We did our research, and experts were saying that now is the wrong time to stop marketing … that we needed to market differently to meet the changing needs of the customer.”
So the team went to work drafting the design for the hand sanitizer stands and then fabricating them in anticipation that the product would sell.
“About two weeks later, we were amazed to see that sales had taken off!” McCarthy said.
A New Challenge
Six weeks into making this strategic move, McCarthy Fabrication had sold thousands of metal hand sanitizing stations. All of the company’s employees continued to remain gainfully employed.
It didn’t take long to discover a new challenge, though. How would the company keep up with production when customer demand exceeded its capacity to fabricate enough hand sanitizer stations?
McCarthy and Ramirez decided to explore a new opportunity. Although the buyer’s search engine was the solution that kept their business going, they wondered how they could keep up with demand while also supporting local commerce and its positive financial impact in Central Florida.
McCarthy Fabrication reached out to other businesses in Central Florida and began partnering with a larger metal fabrication company, Ernest Products, to help keep up with production demand and customers’ expectation of timely delivery. A new partnership was born out of necessity in the face of a global crisis.
That partnership fit in with a goal of the Orlando Economic Partnership to connect large and small businesses to make both more sustainable in a down economy that has seen unemployment spike. “As larger companies move forward, we need to proactively connect them with scaling companies that can meet their needs while creating a win-win for both companies and the job needs of the community,” said Tim Guiliani, CEO of the Orlando Economic Partnership. “We must also tell our region’s story of innovation to avail our startups of the resources and opportunities within and outside Central Florida.”
When the owners of McCarthy Fabrication were asked what words of wisdom they would share based on this experience, McCarthy said this: “I can say firsthand that challenge also brings new ways to succeed.”
Davia Moss is vice president of operations and client services at Next Horizon, an IT and digital marketing agency that provides holistic technology solutions for businesses looking to improve sales, increase agility and optimize productivity. www.nexthorizon.net