It all sounds so simple in retrospect how Carver - an electric two-seater, "but not a car, not a motorcycle and not a scooter" - kept production afloat in the 1.5-meter economy. The production workers actually gave working from home a new dimension: they went into a shed at home to prepare parts for production of the Carver.
Director Anton Rosier begins to shine again in his Leeuwarden office as he thinks back to what was perhaps the bleakest period at Carver. For right at the depths of the Corona misery, the people on the shop floor began to flourish. ''Most of us have a bigger barn at home, we do start putting parts together there, I was told,'' Rosier says. ''It might be the Frisian sobriety: we have to move on and that way it can be done.''
40 percent production moved to barns
''That was SO cool, because it gave us more room in the factory to meet the 1.5-meter requirement,'' Rosier continued. Thus, 40 percent of the Carver's production moved to the homes of the production workers. Once a week, production workers came to pick up and bring parts. Rosier: ,,It worked great, although the planner had an immense job because he had to keep track of which parts were where.''
Carver used the COL (Corona Bridging Loan) and the NOW (Emergency Fund Bridging Employment). Those loans were a big help, but Rosier cites the previous example first when asked about what he learned from the "Corona setback. Rosier: ,,The word joy is not appropriate for the period we were going through, but I get warm inside when you see the entrepreneurship on the shop floor. Full advantage was taken of the changed circumstances.''
'Honestly, I couldn't have come up with anything like that'
Anton Rosier emphasizes again: ''In this case, it is not the director who says what should be done, the shop floor comes up with it. What more could you want? Honestly, I couldn't have come up with something like that. It also immediately creates a bond within the company.''
Bending with the circumstances also fits well with the Carver product, which is founded on the philosophy that energy transition and mobility will lead to a different type of vehicles. That philosophy already requires a flexible mind. In this case, it led to a three-wheeled two-seater with a battery engine, which also stands out with an intelligent and high-tech tilt mechanism that pushes the Carver spectacularly through corners.
2000 pounds of steel to transport one person
The Leeuwarden-produced vehicle answers questions such as "do we need 2,000 pounds of steel to move one person?" or "what does all the luxury of today bring if you are not even able to leave the traffic jam?
Nevertheless, the brilliance of the Carver was not sufficient to get around the Corona obstacles without difficulty. But who succeeded? It all started with the parts from China that sometimes didn't come. Rosier: ,,Sometimes it was just one part, but you can't deliver a Carver to the customer without an outside mirror.'' There is now a contract with a South Korean manufacturer of semi-finished parts.
Transportation demand changed
The demand for Carvers increased in the meantime. Perhaps strange but easily explainable. ''There are people who no longer want to take public transportation and they are looking for an alternative,'' Rosier knows. ''The demand for transportation has changed and you have to respond to that.''
Moreover, there were new situations in the market where Carver offers a solution. For example, elderly people are less likely to go to the pharmacy to pick up their medications, but home delivery of meals has also taken off. These trends led to the cargo version of the Carver. The second passenger's space turns into a 600-liter cargo area.
'Can't deliver Carver without outside mirror'
Rosier: ,,All those adjustments require a lot of supply-chain and marketing flexibility. But a nice and young company can handle that. We have to reinvent the wheel from time to time. It makes it fun.''
Carver did have another major setback, as it tried to raise 2 million euros in capital through the NPEX exchange this year to scale up from startup to scale-up. Although issue was half full, Carver will make another attempt next year. ''We were ultimately grateful that NOW came along,'' Rosier says, ''because we came to a standstill. Our sales went down 93 percent. You can't deliver that Carver without an outside mirror even though you have money in it.''
With money from the COL came a cargo version
And then the Corona Bridging Loan (COL) came into the picture. Rosier and his staff took another look at the market. ''We pulled business forward,'' he says, ''basically just watching what happens and anticipating.'' With the money from the COL, the cargo version was developed. ''The storage space has increased tremendously and electric delivery in cities is now possible. There is tremendous interest.''
The COL has been instrumental for Carver. ''We've been able to adjust operations,'' Rosier says. ''We couldn't have come back the way we did without the COL. But nothing comes naturally. We do come out of the Corona crisis stronger than we went in. The question beforehand is how flexible you are as a company. Now I know: we can do a lot, when all is said and done.''
COL was the only lifeline
The COL was also the only lifeline. ''There was no choice because there were no other options,'' Rosier observes. ''Banks, loans, it was all hopeless. I am sincerely very happy with the COL. I also admire the way they managed this in a short time. Things may have gone wrong, but compare it to what could have gone wrong without COL.
Rosier has no tips for other entrepreneurs. ''Except that I like to learn from others, I definitely don't pretend to know it all,'' he says.
Carver has things back on track. But what if a second Corona wave comes along? ''Well...,'' it sounds. ''If we can produce and deliver, then we can exist. So we have to keep looking closely at the supply chain.''