Finding a silver lining amid COVID-19 uncertainty

Finding a silver lining amid COVID-19 uncertainty

While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought with it many economic challenges, there have been some unexpected upsides for businesses.

Business in Vancouver (BIV) recently highlighted some of the BC businesses and industries booming during the pandemic.

Automation

A&K Robotics Inc. and Advanced Intelligent Systems Inc. are developing made-in-BC robots that are capable of cleaning rooms with UV lights, while tech firm Conexiom (Ecmarket Inc.), which specializes in automation software for sales orders that are usually done manually, brought in US$40 million in investment capital this summer.

Bikes

While the pandemic may have hurt some industries, bicycle sales have been booming.

Many store owners reported an early rush to buy bikes and steady demand throughout the summer. One Vancouver bike store owner told BIV that sales were up 40% over last year, and they could be even higher but slow downs in the supply chain have become an issue.

With all those bikes on the road, and the fact that bicycle maintenance was deemed an essential service in BC, the mobile bike repair business has also seen gains throughout the pandemic. 

Vancouver-based Velofix, which offers mobile bike repairs, maintenance and delivery, has seen a 79% increase in business so far this year.

“We’ve been growing steadily over the last four or five years, but we’ve really been waiting for a tipping point,” Davide Xausa, Velofix president and founder, told BIV. “We didn’t think a pandemic would be that tipping point.”

Digitizing medical offices

The pandemic has proved to be a boon for Vancouver-based Well Health Technologies Corp. The company owns 20 medical clinics and provides software and services to more than 2,000 medical clinics across Canada. Its share price has hit an all-time high and recently hit nearly 60% above its pre-pandemic high.

“We achieved record quarterly revenue despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 global pandemic,” CEO Hamed Shahbazi told BIV.

Electronics

With most social activities on hold and everyone spending more time at home, sales of electronics and high-tech devices have seen an increase during the pandemic.

In the US, Best Buy beat analyst estimates for revenue and profits in its Aug. 25 earnings report. Its Canadian subsidiary, Best Buy Canada, closed its stores in March and moved sales online. Allan Kambeitz, vice-presidents of merchandising, reported that customers returned in droves when stores re-opened in May.

Plastic shield manufacturers

As many retail and service businesses reopen to the public, many are opting to install Plexglass shields to act as barriers between staff and customers. Some have also made the decision to purchase plastic face shields for staff, creating a new opportunity for companies that manufacture those items.

Burnaby-based Peregrine shifted its business to making Plexiglass shields. Another company, Packright, which is based in Langley, switched from making plastic clamshells for vegetables to making plastic face shields.

Online sales software

When the pandemic hit, many small-business owners, who did not already have e-commerce websites, rushed to sign up with Shopify, a commerce platform that allows anyone to set up an online store.

The surge in interest sent the company’s share price soaring and its market capitalization is now the highest of any venture on the Toronto Stock Exchange. 

Read the full list of silver linings at biv.com.

Published on Sept. 9, 2020.