Security VAR Saepio is back in growth mode after a turbulent six months saw three of its directors taken ill with COVID-19.
Speaking to CRN, director Rob Pooley explained how he and two other members of the exec team contracted the virus in early March - before the UK went into lockdown and at a time when less was known about the condition.
Pooley (pictured, right) himself was bedridden for weeks, contracted pneumonia and had to call an ambulance multiple times - with the rest of his household also falling ill. Fellow director Doug Evans (pictured, top) had a similar experience.
His colleague Nick Moss (pictured, bottom) was hit even harder and was hospitalised for 100 days, where he was on a ventilator and in a coma - undergoing various operations and blood transfusions.
Moss is thankfully now on the road to recovery and undergoing rehabilitation.
Pooley said that the rest of the Saepio team pulled together in their absence and, although April and May were "dire" in terms of health, the firm has hit the ground running in July and August with two big months.
Sales in this period doubled year on year to hit £1.25m, with the management team confident the business will break through the £10m-revenue barrier in its current financial year.
"It's been without doubt the hardest year of my life," Pooley said. "This just dwarfs everything else. We've spent four years building the business, but when the physical health has gone to pot the business could have easily followed suit if things carried on the way they were going.
"We were some of the first people in the country to have it and the doctors just didn't know what to do.
"But I think it was just determination and desire, and the fact that two of the directors were very ill actually spurred on the rest of the employees to do us proud.
"We've created a family spirit and that has ended up paying off over the last few months and we're reaping the rewards of that now."
Pooley said that he and Moss do not fall into any of the categories of people that are considered to be more susceptible to coronavirus.
Both are fit and healthy, and did a lot of running prior to becoming ill. Both are now back at work and are in fact planning to run a marathon next year to raise money for the NHS.
But they are still feeling the effects of the illness, with Pooley suffering from shortness of breath and tinnitus, while Moss has had to learn to walk and talk again, and still sometimes experiences difficulty in doing so.
"It really wipes you out for a long time," he said. "You have breathing problems, mental problems like a foggy head and I still can't smell stuff; my smell is distorted."
"There are lots of weird things, but you put all that stuff to one side because you're alive and other people aren't."
Saepio is now looking to grow its team, having postponed a recruitment drive in April.
The firm furloughed just one person throughout lockdown, having let some employees go prior to the pandemic - which Pooley said turned out to be beneficial in the challenging months post lockdown.
Headcount now stands at 20, with plans to increase to 30 over the coming months.
The firm's performance also caught the eye of potential suitors.
"Private equity firms have started sniffing about, and even a few other firms in the channel," he said.
"They started making contact about wanting to merge or acquire us, but at the moment we have parked all those conversations.
"We're not anywhere near far enough along the journey yet, so we're quite happy cracking on - especially with how things are at the moment."
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'Three of the directors had COVID at the same time' - how this security VAR battled the pandemic and is back in growth mode
After a rollercoaster few months, with three of its directors falling ill, Saepio has seen revenue double in July and August