VCHQ Updates / Ask Me Anything
It's snowing; what the heck.
In other goodness, Trudeau announced yesterday that the wage subsidy will continue for small businesses so we will continue to forge forward!
Still waiting for news on Ontario opening up so we can get the crew back. I hear that Thomas is learning how to work the printer on Monday so that we can print some spot sub orders... and keep Ryan busy! The online store is churning along.
Will keep you posted this week; I feel like we'll learn more in the coming days...
Hope you're all doing well! Working away still, lots of online orders to pick/pack/ship but not a whole lot else going on order-wise. Katie is now on maternity leave and KK is picking up steam helping to keep production and orders organized.
Everything is moving slower than expected, but I guess that is to be expected. Axis was looking to reopen in a limited way next week but that's looking like it will be pushed back so no screen printing for a little longer.
We're holding steady this week as per directed by the province and I can't see how we would open next week, even though we're likely included in more categories to be able to do so (as we are now), "technically" speaking.
My best guess is opening the week of 5/18 to get more or a rotating crew in to the office/printer/production area, while still maintaining the distancing protocols and cleaning thoroughly. TBD - not going to get excited until we know more.
In the meantime, please enjoy my new puppy, Stevie, in his staff hoodie. Working hard or hardly working?
Stay healthy and optimistic, and May the 4th be with you!
I’ve been doing some thinking and have decided that we’re going to shut the business down on Fridays while we’re currently under capacity. This way everyone (our own team members and our suppliers) know not to expect replies from us on Fridays and it’ll be more efficient. Personally, it also means that I’ll be able to focus on deep work on Fridays myself to help me with strategy work to get us through and above this situation.
You may choose which other half day you take off, but my preference would be for you to chose either Monday AM or Thursday PM. If you have an appointment or previous commitment one other morning or afternoon, though, that’s fine – this is meant to add a bit more structure to the week, not stress.
This will start this week if you’re not off today, otherwise next week officially. We will revisit when we have to look at increasing capacity again and/or maintain social distancing when the office opens back up, technically.
Any questions, please let me know.
VC Ultimate Inc.
Hi team! TGIF!
Yesterday was a super busy but fun day getting the VC Card Membership program launched and we were stoked to see people sign up right away. Today is a lot about continuing to market that and get it set up as best we can.
One bit of news for folks working from home is that there might be more of a tax benefit to do so. Trying to get more information on this.
We're still trying to get more information together on so many things, especially about when the ON closure will be lifted. There's really no source other than the same news any of you can consume so we're all just in this together, waiting.
In the meantime, it's supposed to be warmer today - at last! Hope you get to enjoy some sunshine!
Have a great weekend, everyone.
4/22 Update - a day late, but a good update for the team, if not really any real "information" happening.
Hi team! Happy Wednesday! Who’s doing anything exciting?
I’d like to start today off by saying CONGRATS to Pugh! He’s engaged to a very lovely, smart and fun person, who also must be quite the charter given that Pugh is also. Exciting time for Pugh, Em and their son, Eli.
Next, HAPPY EARTH DAY!
Yet to be edited blog - https://ca.vcultimate.com/blogs/news/earth-day-vc-green-program
- Please share once you see it posted on our socials! Cool stuff!
Today is a marketing day for me, just trying to wrap the VC Card program which is almost ready. Thanks to everyone for all the hard work on this.
I’m meeting with the PUL at noon to review our revised offer to get the 2020 gear out the door to them, and more marketing benefits to us. Will keep people posted on that.
I’ll leave you with this feedback from a long time VC supporter, Andrew Portwine, who is VC Card Member #1 – he snuck in a pre-launch purchase to make sure that he could get that # haha.
Hi team - we've made it through another week! Hope you've all been keeping healthy and optimistic.
I spent a couple of days at VC this week packing/shipping orders... painfully slowly, as did Thomas on other days... slowly mostly because he was making sense of what I had done while learning as I went!
Was great to have Jess and KK back getting some orders in, Thomas back getting a handle on the online store and finally G back helping with some marketing projects.
There's not much to report this week with the office opening pushed back to May 11th. We've been trucking along getting online store orders out one person at a time.
Best part of this week has been reading some of the replies to our Frontline worker newsletter. Here are a few:
I am a resident doctor at McGill, based out of the Jewish General Hospital. It is the designated COVID-19 hospital for Montreal, which happens to be Canada's epicentre for disease. I have always sought to balance my professional duties with the time demands of training for, and playing ultimate. In turn, the sport has rewarded me with a cohesive social network and an outlet to maintain my physical health. The pandemic has ushered in increased demands and novel precautions in the hospitals. Social distancing and fear of hospitalization have resulted in trying times for people around the globe, and I know the loss of ultimate (a sport that has personally been so vital in fostering my physical and mental wellbeing) certainly does not make things any easier. Nonetheless, we are very grateful for the appreciation extended by businesses and individuals as we all venture on.
Thanks everyone - have a good weekend. Stay healthy and optimistic!
Hi team - Katie here. If you haven't heard the news, the Ontario Government has extended the state of emergency for another 4 weeks. Non-essential businesses will not be back until May 12th at the earliest now:
The good news is that this is a sign that the extreme measures we've all been taking are starting to make a difference. But it's going to require more work from everyone to make sure we can (hopefully) get back to normal this summer.
We're still working on an ever-developing back to work plan for the business and what this will mean for us, and will be certain to keep everyone posted.
In the meantime, we are all doing our best to get whatever business we can to keep things moving! Yocca has been helping out by taking on production that we're not currently able to do in Canada. We're also working with Peros to start offering VC design masks for personal use, to try and do our part to help as we can. You can check out Peros' in-stock mask program on their website if you want to see what they are doing:
Thanks to everyone for your patience!
Hi folks - ON has pushed the reopen to (at least) 4/23, which we'll be adhering to (max 1 person in offer per day until then). Will be in touch re production, printing and fulfillment plans next week.
Jess, KK and Thomas are back 3.5 days/week as of today and we're trying our best to drum up business!
Discraft officially closed until 4/30, too.
More soon... please check back and check out the other posts in the VCHQ Blog arena.
4/8/20 Add-on Update
Hi team - a question re set schedules has come up; here are my thoughts.
- You can set your own schedule! Needs to be set in stone the week before since we'll have some guidelines to work within to do so in order to make sure as many bases are covered for as many days/week as possible.
- That said, everyone has to have at least a 2.5-day weekend, so everyone will have to take either a full or half Monday or Friday off/week.
Why? Well, because long weekends are good for the soul and I think it's a good thing for our spirits.
Another couple of days and another update coming your way. Has anyone baked anything lately? I made a chicken pot pie last night that I have here for lunch today and I’m already eating my arm in anticipation.
With the ON government pushing the opening of offices back until 4/20, we’ve had to rework plans again. Flexibility is the name of the game, but know that I understand how frustrating it is not to have answers. We’re doing our best to make decisions on an almost daily basis that’s best for everyone (our team and the greater public), and allows the business to be sustainable.
This part update is specifically for Jess, Kristina, G and Thomas, who can work remotely for the most/all part.
Here’s the latest as we understand it. Government wage subsidies are going to allow us to bring back remote team members this coming week at a level of 75%. That is, 3.5 days per week at a salary/wage of 75%. The subsidies are more complicated than just getting payments for companies (it’s a future tax credit), so unfortunately this is the best we can do based on anticipated cash flow output.
IMPORTANT – if you’d rather stay on EI at 55% and not work, that’s your prerogative – I won’t (and not sure if I could) "force" you to come back to work under the new terms. We will work as a team to shift responsibilities and such to keep going for the time being.
Realistically, this is likely to be the way it is until June 6th when the wage subsidy ends. I hope we would have more news by May 31st and are committed to provide a further update on that by that date, either way.
Let me be extremely clear here: the only way this will work is if everybody is on board with being a team player, helping in areas that aren’t your usual wheelhouse and taking on new/different responsibilities. I am 100% committed to increasing people’s work percentage as a) the volume of work requires it, after work-shifting/helping options have been exhausted and b) revenue allows us to do so sustainably.
New responsibilities may see overwhelming or challenging at first, but keep two things in mind:
1) We're anticipating a revenue of 20% of budget on the year. Without the wage subsidies, we'd be looking at having to reduce our team in half at least (I shudder to think, but likely more actually). There will not be "too much" work for anyone, in my opinion, for a while even at these reduced capacities.
2) I'm here to support you. We're working out a plan that we think makes the most sense based on everyone's skill set. That said, if it's not working - or work is being distributed unequally, we will adjust.
We aren’t sure if the government will continue to pay you EI support for the last 25%, but if your EI file is switched to CERB, you will not be eligible to receive that benefits while receiving wage subsidy. It’s important that you report either to EI or CERB that you are receiving wage subsidy and report your income, to avoid penalties and claw back of benefits later. Ahmad will keep trying to find this answer in the meantime.
For Fahim, Ryan and Marie-Helene, the same offer will apply for you once we can open the office back up ~ April 20th.
For Marijo, Ivan and Jami, we’re doing our best to get us back in the position to schedule shifts. Please know we want you back with us ASAP and will do our best to keep you posted along the way.
I know you must be wondering what is going to happen after June 6th and the truth is I simply don’t know yet. Revenue could be back up to a sustainable level, or the entire Club season could be cancelled for both Canada and the US and we’ll have to go back in to hibernation. The more we contribute ideas, efforts and optimism here, the stronger we’ll come out the other side of all of this.
We’re working on back-to-work schedules/plans over the coming days and checking in with everyone about how this will all affect you specifically.
Thanks again for being awesome,
Hi team - quick Monday morning update. Ontario has extended the office closures until at least 4/20.
The government is ordering all businesses not covered by the updated Emergency Order to close effective as of Saturday, April 4, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days, with the possibility of an extension as the situation evolves. Teleworking, online commerce and other innovative ways of working remotely are permitted at all times and are strongly encouraged for all businesses. All supply chains necessary for the production of vital food and healthcare supplies are being protected and remain intact.
Stay home, stay healthy!
Hello team - here is your 4/2 update.
Here's what I did today:
- Confirmed an order for Jess (Miner Threat!)
- Got a Lookfly newsletter out with Pugh, who is recovering well from his surgery!
- Processed an order for 300+ jerseys to get more indigenous kids playing ultimate! Check out the Anishinabek Nation. Tidbit - one of their main art aspects is a Thunderbird logo... as I finished this proof request, two HUGE bald eagles came swooping around my house right in front of the window.
- Looked at more of Ahmad's budgets.
- Worked with Katie on our back-to-business plans.
- Answered online store questions/change requests... how people "order the wrong size" is still beyond me, but I'm here to help!
- Wrote, re-wrote, re-thought and am now re-doing a newsletter.
- Obsessed over my girlfriend's dog, Jersey, as she sleeps under my desk.
In all seriousness, we're getting closer to knowing what the next few weeks will look like. I will be going to the office on either Monday or Tuesday to take stock of some projects on site, and we'll look at how we can get the printers back running so that we are in pull position for PUL PSP orders when we open back up.
Technically, as it turns out, as a manufacturer, we are allowed to operate, but I feel confident that it was the right decision to all STAY HOME during these pivotal couple of weeks of isolation. Since the office is now sterile, I will go in next week myself to get some online orders out the door, too.
That's all for today - more concrete information and plans to come Tuesday. Thanks to all for your patience and please keep healthy! And optimistic.
Hi team - updates for 3/31.
I hope you're all staying somewhat busy and as optimistic as possible! Kristina did a killer job on her kitchen drawer organization and I am actually reading articles that people send to me.
We've been getting some orders - mostly gear from events that were cancelled, but a couple of custom orders have come in! Katie's been plugging away on guides and production tasks as they come up and Ahmad's been mostly learning, relearning and learning again about the government assistance stuff as it is released, as well as planning out our potential scenarios.
The good news it that the government is going to be coming through with some serious wage subsidies, which will allow us to come back to work even with such a reduced revenue prospect on the year. The bad news is that it's complicated and the flow of information is slow/incomplete... so we aren't able to make a plan, yet.
The first orders of business when we are able to open back up will be catching up on printing and online orders. As soon as we're able to do that (i.e. once the ON mandatory closure is lifted), we'll be focusing on opening back up on reduced hours to get that going.
The fact is that this virus isn't likely to peak until mid-or-late April, so we may still be in limbo until then, but I'm not going to borrow trouble.
More information soon. Stay healthy and optimistic and I'll be back with another update on Thursday.
I want to keep you as informed as possible, and as you want to be. Feel free to ask any questions you might have and I'll answer as best I can.