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US distributors keep operating as they respond to pandemic

Published April 3, 2020
QBP laid off 12% of its workforce, but it, and other distributors, say their warehouses are shipping at full capacity.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (BRAIN) — QBP has laid off 12% of its workforce, about 80 employees, the company confirmed Friday. Like most other North American distributors, QBP is still shipping orders at full capacity during the pandemic and offering new programs for dealers. Some other distributors are making workforce reductions as well.

"This was a painful decision," said Rich Tauer, QBP's president, in an email to dealers Friday morning. "These were valued co-workers, and they are our friends and partners. We made this decision to ensure that QBP remains stable now and through what might come over the coming year,"

"Our North American distribution centers are fully operational with the same service our retailers have always relied upon. I've been humbled to hear and see retailers and suppliers, saying that they depend on Q to get the products and services they need to the marketplace. It's an honor and responsibility that everyone at Q truly takes to heart."

A QBP spokesman told BRAIN the layoffs affected all departments and all of the company's U.S. facilities.

"The basics of why we had to do this was to ensure that the business remains stable," said John Sandburg, QBP's marketing communications manager. "Our distribution centers are the lifeblood of our company and we need to remain stable so we can continue to ship to dealers."

Sandburg said that QBP is seeing an increase in online sales through dealers, including its expanded direct-to-consumer fulfillment options. But overall he said QBP has seen a sales decline in recent weeks.

"We hear from retailers all the time how much they count on QBP. It's humbling and we take that responsibility super seriously," he said.

Some other North American distributors are making workforce reductions as well, and most are continuing to accept orders and ship at near full capacity.

BTI, which announced last week that it was temporarily closing its facilities, will re-open in a limited capacity on April 6, the New Mexico-based distributor said Friday.

BTI is already accepting web orders and will resume shipping Monday with limited staff at its facilities in New Mexico and Nevada.

“Following decisions by the Department of Homeland Security’s CISA and the State of New Mexico to define bike businesses as essential, we reassessed how BTI can safely provide shops with necessary repair parts during the crisis,” said BTI’s President Preston Martin. Distributor HLC also has made temporary worker hour reductions and "a few" furloughs, HLC's North American president Patrick McGinnis told BRAIN on Thursday.

"We did make a few small changes to reduce expenses in anticipation of revenue reductions," McGinnis said. "April will determine what adjustments if any we need in May, May will determine June, etc. as we move through this global crisis," he added.

J&B is continuing to operate at full capacity at all its facilities, J&B CEO Mitch Gurdjian told BRAIN on Friday. He said the Miami-based distributor has made no workforce reductions. "We have no layoffs at this point and none on the horizon. The governor’s order allows us to operate as an essential business, which we will continue to do, so long as we feel the work environment is safe," he said.

KHS Bicycles also continues to operate at full capacity, KHS vice president Wayne D. Gray told BRAIN on Friday.

"(We) have been quite busy early in the week for the last two weeks," Gray said. "We have not and will not likely have any layoffs (we run a lean ship always)," he added.

Merry Sales Co. also is operating at full capacity, Merry Sales' Stan Pun told BRAIN earlier this week.

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