Corona Diaries #23 Stig Larsson, Level Six (Canada)
Outside, rivers are starting to flow and spring is around the corner, and the sun is shining high. Yet around the world, most of us are grounded at home and it seems like it could last another few weeks. Though difficult, let’s repeat it, folks this is THE THING TO DO! It is necessary and worth it!
So, we at Kayak Session decided to take the opportunity to catch up with our friends in the whitewater community and see how they are coping across the globe.
Today we talk with Level Six Founder Stig Larsson based in Ottawa in Canada.
« As a society and personally I am optimistic that we will get through this and hopefully rethink what is important in this world. »
How zit Stig, where are you and what is the situation like where you are?
Right now I am working in my home office trying to make sure we are as proactive as possible to keep Level Six and its employees happy and healthy. The Covid19 situation looks like they are stabilizing right now in Canada but a few weeks ago we were certainly trending in the wrong direction. The home front is funny, I have 2 daughters (13 and almost 7) that are into competitive dance and the studio they dance for is pretty proactive with online classes. So basically, our house is a full time hip hop, acro, ballet, jazz, tap you name it training center!
Is Level Six opened still?
Level Six is open as a skeleton crew, we make a really high-end line of drysuits for first responders and ice rescue departments which allowed us to be deemed essential. This has allowed us to continue supplying our ecommerce partners and brick and mortar stores that had a strong ecommerce presence. This has managed to pick up some of the business that disappeared with physical locations being closed.
How has Covid-19 impacted your plans for the season?
Personally it has probably made me fatter and more prone to drinking but I’ll keep that in check once this is over! I’m missing out on all the rivers that are flowing right now, but the weather is a bit up and down so it isn’t a huge loss. Professionally Covid-19 has been devastating, we lost 80% of our spring bookings in 1 week as dealers cancelled or put a hold on all shipments. To put this in perspective this is millions of dollars wiped off our balance sheet in 7 days. So that was a little stressful, but I have always tried to ensure Level Six has money saved for times like this and we have the capital to survive this. Over the past 24 years of running Level Six there have been so many economic disasters and you need to remember that this too shall pass.
What is your prediction for this year – are you pessimistic, reasonable optimistic?
As a society and personally I am optimistic that we will get through this and hopefully rethink what is important in this world. Professionally, I feel that many dealers and outfitters that were not healthy going into this pandemic will shut down. This certainly makes me sad as the struggle is real and when you are dealt a hand like this without being able to up your game because of a lock down, it feels like your hands are tied.
« we are trying to support our dealer base with free drop shipping, online interviews / product knowledge sessions with discount codes to encourage viewers to buy through that dealer. »
How are you guys trying to go around the difficulty we all face at the moment? Pushing the online sales?
Online sales have certainly helped keep income coming in, but one of our main focuses is taking this time to make sure we come out the other end of this a stronger company that is a valued partner to our dealers. We are implementing a brand new end to end software in the office that has PLM, ERP, EDI, and BI all built in. This will allow us to design faster, better, more consistent, and allow us to forecast our production capacity with greater detail. It will also allow our dealers more transparency in our stock levels so they in turn maximize their sales and revenue. It was massively expensive and if I had known Covid-19 was around the corner I probably wouldn’t have pushed go on it this year but such is life. Running a business is a lot like paddling a river, you don’t always know what is around the corner but you deal with it.
In what way can you help the retail business cope with the current situation?
we are trying to support our dealer base with free drop shipping, online interviews / product knowledge sessions with discount codes to encourage viewers to buy through that dealer. But really online sales are a drop in the bucket compared to brick and mortar sales if you were used to that revenue stream.
« we are still making our 2021 samples, working on fall production and designing new products. »
What is the Canadian population reaction to the stay home – is it respected?
I think it is, In Ottawa it seems to be respected. I have heard stories from large cities like Toronto that there were issues but there is so much fake news out there it is hard to know.
How do you spend most of your time?
I try to make sure I keep up with everything, we are still making our 2021 samples, working on fall production and designing new products. So daily I have online meetings with the design team, fabric mills and factories to make sure we are ready when this lockdown is over. Other than that, I go for runs with my wife while the girls bike and I crush a lot of Netfix in the evening with the family.
Any words of wisdom for your fellow paddlers across the world?
Stay safe, stay healthy and when this is all over make sure you can look at yourself in the mirror again with a smile on your face.