Velair MD Matt Anderson’s south Coast start-up helps bring PPE to the UK

“We had an established network of hygiene product manufacturers in China that I’d worked with on and off for 8 years, so we started making some enquiries.”

Stephen Gear
Co-founder of FIG Products

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the UK, Health and Hygiene business FIG Products, felt strongly about doing something to help their country.

The South Coast start-up was cofounded by Matt Anderson and Stephen Gear only 18 months ago. But, when Matt’s other business – Hampshire-based hand dryer company, Velair – was approached by a large national client desperately in need of medical grade PPE, the pair knew that FIG Products had some great links and the ability to help.

As it turned out, FIG did have access to supply chains in China that could source and supply the desperately needed PPE. So, the pair started organising getting PPE to the UK. Rolling up their sleeves and putting in some serious hours, the task became a quite demanding large-scale operation.

This was a big change from the duo’s usual focus, as FIG Products predominantly manufacturers a Captive Dispenser System in the washroom arena. And, although successful, the business is still in its infancy. But Matt and Stephen knew they needed to quickly change track for a while to help with the Covid-19 crisis.

Having sourced and organised PPE supply chains for UK contacts, the pair felt it was only right to sell at reasonable prices – where so many others were taking advantage of the crisis. Matt and Stephen also felt there must be more they could do to help.

After making some enquiries, they contacted Frontline Facemasks – a Dorset based group supporting frontline workers struggling to get adequate PPE for the environment they work in during the pandemic. In April, FIG Products donated 480 medical grade facemasks to the non-profit group to distribute out to staff in GP Surgeries, Pharmacies, Nursing Homes, Care Homes Hospices and Charities providing health and care services, via their contacts at Dorset Clinical Commissions Group.

Both Matt and Stephen felt that they needed to give back to the community where they could. Matt said: “After we made the donation, we thought why stop there? As a small independent start-up we’re quite limited with what we can do, but we had the resource to set up the website, which accrues donation masks through sales, which then go to Frontline Facemasks to distribute out where they are needed in the community.”

This means that purchasers can also feel they are doing their bit to support UK frontline workers with PPE too, as for every 5 masks bought through, 1 facemask is donated by FIG Products to those who need it on the frontline.

The supply chain of PPE set up by FIG Products has also garnered orders from other European countries, leaving the pair delighted that their small start-up business has had the ability to help many frontline staff during the pandemic.

“Not enough people in the UK were able to successfully bring quality PPE products into the country. So, when I started getting requests from businesses I work with, I knew we needed to do something to give back if we could.”

Matt Anderson
Co-founder of FIG Products and MD of Velair