On 11th March 2020 a global pandemic was confirmed with lockdown starting from 23rd March 2020. Vent-Axia is committed to improving public health by improving indoor air quality (IAQ) through ventilation with over 80 years’ experience. The company set out to go the extra mile focusing on how it could help in the national response against COVID-19 laying out a three-tier plan to help support its customers and the general public:

– Critical Supply;
– Critical Communication;
– Critical Technical Advice.

In October 2020, Vent-Axia’s COVID-19 Support Campaign was recognised as the British Chamber of Commerce named the company a ‘UK Business Hero’ as part of the Chamber’s campaign to recognise the incredible work UK businesses were undertaking, in the most challenging of years. The company was awarded this prestigious accolade for its valuable work during the pandemic including supplying ventilation to COVID-19 hospital wards and field hospitals in unprecedented timescales, throughout lockdown and beyond. The company was one of only 399 UK businesses to be given this national recognition.

Critical Supply
Vent-Axia pivoted its business and adapted to the challenges of COVID-19. This was a new threat to both the business and to the country so innovation was vital to help overcome the virus. As market-leader Vent-Axia wanted to use its expertise to help with the pandemic and for the business to remain open and manufacturing to ensure the supply of vital ventilation to its customers for critical projects to help in the fight against COVID-19. The company therefore ensured it followed Government guidance on safe working practices to protect its staff, such as social distancing within its manufacturing facilities, this also meant a number of office-based staff worked from home.

Despite many of the Vent-Axia team initially working from home, the company gave them the resources and guidance to implement working strategies allowing them to work as efficiently as possible, streamlining processes so the company could pivot quickly as needed to supply its wholesaler customers exactly what the construction industry needed for critical projects. As a result, distribution was accelerated where products were needed urgently for critical projects as the construction supply chain all worked together as a team with a common goal.

Playing its part in the national response against Coronavirus, Vent-Axia supplied fans to a number of COVID-19 hospital wards and field hospitals during lockdown to provide good levels of ventilation, essential in such environments due to the airborne transmission of the virus. Sites included the flagship NHS Nightingale Hospital in London, Kent & Canterbury NHS Trust’s COVID-19 wards, and the Rainbow field hospitals at Bangor University and Deeside Leisure Centre. In these difficult times the electrical industry pulled together, with Vent-Axia part of the hard-working team that made it possible to enable these essential field hospitals to be up and running in an unprecedented time scale. For example, for the London NHS Nightingale Hospital Vent-Axia worked with an electrical wholesaler customer to ensure its fans were delivered directly to the hospital site within just three hours of the order, an extraordinary delivery time.

Product Launches
With the electrical industry supply chain vital to help with critical projects in the fight against COVID, it was essential to keep electrical wholesalers up-to-date with product innovations. Following lockdown in March it meant face-to-face visits with new products stopped. Vent-Axia therefore adapted its business and prepared virtual product launches for wholesalers to supply them with the product information they needed and the marketing material to be able to promote new products to their customers. The first virtual launch that took place was for Vent-Axia’s latest Silent Fan. It involved supplying wholesalers with a link to a webpage (https://www.vent-axia.com/newsilentfan) which supplied them with all the necessary information including a 5-minute presentation video on the product.

In addition to the presentation video there were five supporting videos explaining models and features, features and benefits, guide to easy wiring, suitable for long and short duct runs, and noise comparison. These videos provided all the information wholesalers would need to explain the models to their customers and to be able to answer frequently asked questions.

As well as the videos the links also provided downloads to marketing collateral that wholesalers could use to promote the products to their customers including: advert, datasheet, fitting and wiring instructions, product photography, in situ product photography, web banner, and promotions.

The successful roll out of this digital product launch has led to other new products being launched in this way. This allows wholesalers to update themselves with the latest information while reducing COVID-19 risk transmission for both wholesalers and Vent-Axia staff.

Critical Communication
At the beginning of lockdown it was a frightening time for many people as they adapted to the new Government guidance with a large number of people working from home. Vent-Axia launched the #StayHealthy social media campaign on 18th March 2020 to provide guidance on improving IAQ and creating a healthy environment while working from home. Alongside social media Vent-Axia also provided critical communications by issuing press releases, commenting and sharing the latest Government and industry guidance on the virus, while also adding its own ventilation expertise.

With the daily tips Vent-Axia created simple gifs which clearly communicated the necessary information, a raft of infographics simply explained ventilation facts and advice, while videos by Phill Bone from Vent-Axia offered IAQ advice (https://youtu.be/i8boeKZE7eg). The Vent-Axia ‘Healthy Homes’ landing page was updated in line with COVID-19 which included hosting the daily top tips (https://www.vent-axia.com/healthyhomes).

Critical Expert Advice
Following the Government’s COVID-19 Return to Work Recovery Strategy published on 11th May, Vent-Axia’s expert ventilation advice helped businesses prepare for a return to work. Whilst the Government Strategy gave overarching advice there was little detail for building owners to follow on ventilation, so Vent-Axia provided this.
As Vent-Axia was the market-leader in pub ventilation before the smoking ban in 2007, the company felt particularly well-placed to help this sector when it returned in July. Vent-Axia therefore ran an information campaign specifically targeting the pubs and bars sector (https://www.vent-axia.com/tseries). The campaign reached an audience of nearly 1 million, helping ensure Vent-Axia could advise as many pubs as possible about how to ventilate during the pandemic, helping them reopen their businesses whilst keeping staff and customers safe by helping reduce virus transmission.

Electrical wholesalers have stayed open during lockdown to provide an essential service. As well as supplying installers with vital ventilation products, they are also able to keep electricians up-to-date with the latest information on tackling COVID with ventilation. To help electrical wholesalers educate their customers on the benefits of ventilation in reducing virus transmission, Vent-Axia has consolidated the body of essential information it has been communicating into a useful guide called ‘The Effect of Ventilation on COVID-19’ (https://www.vent-axia.com/sites/default/files/102108_the_effect_of_ventilation_on_covid-19.pdf) and a companion webpage https://www.vent-axia.com/dilutethevirus, which gives practical advice on how indoor ventilation is important to reduce virus transmission.

The webpage collates valuable information on the importance of effective ventilation in reducing COVID-19 transmission rates indoors and details the independent guidance supporting this, with links to a number of governing bodies and the UK Government. On the website there is the option to download the free guide. There is also information on ventilation solutions, answers to FAQs, and links to useful videos on the vital role ventilation plays in mitigating the threat of the virus when indoors, and how to reduce the coronavirus risk during domestic work.

The guide goes into further detail of how ventilation can help combat COVID-19 and how to improve ventilation rates. This includes helpful diagrams that demonstrate the beneficial effects of ventilation when a high concentration of infectious airborne material is present. A ventilation checklist shows all the steps needed to address ventilation requirements indoors, while a range of questions on ventilation systems are answered. Finally, the guide explains about the type of ventilation solutions on offer: bathroom and kitchen fans, single room heat recovery, whole house ventilation and positive input ventilation.

As the pandemic has evolved with the recognition of airborne transmission of the virus, effective ventilation has become vital. Vent-Axia’s ‘COVID-19 Support Campaign’ has helped in the fight against COVID-19 by supplying critical projects; sharing vital ventilation guidance and information; plus offering essential expert advice to customers and businesses. The company has led the way in these activities dominating the share of voice on communications and leading the way in expert advice.