Taking Advantage of Emergency Credit

How a family-run carpentry shop in Braunschweig – which exceeded its 2019 turnover in November 2020 – stayed solvent and got through the worst of the economic disruption

 February, 2021

Back in March, Dirk Evers, manager of Evers Tischlerei, a small but successful family-run carpenter’s workshop in Braunschweig, was very worried. As the pandemic spread, Evers’ customers were desperately canceling their orders, worried that tradesmen would infect them when they came to fit their new doors and windows. Evers was left sitting on completed woodwork worth EUR 80,000, with nowhere to fit it, and a big liquidity problem. It was a critical time for Evers and his ten employees.

To bridge the gap, he took out a loan from the KfW, Germany’s state-owned development bank. The EUR 30,000 he received is to be paid back over six years at the low interest rate of 1.46 percent. As someone with plenty of experience of German bureaucracy, Evers was surprised at how simple the procedure turned out to be. “The money was in the bank account within a week,” he said. “It would be great if it worked out like that in future, too, to make things a bit less bureaucratic.”

Just eight months later, things are looking considerably better: Business took a sharp upturn over the summer that followed the first lockdown, and by early November, the firm had already exceeded its 2019 turnover. Evers believes this is down to various factors.

© Gordon Welters/laif

“A lot of people were at home during the first lockdown and couldn’t go on holiday – and that meant, of course, that they had a certain financial cushion in their bank accounts,” he explains. “Then they’d say, ‘Haven’t we always wanted a new floor?’”

The pandemic also created new niches. Shops, for instance, suddenly needed aerosol-protection screens between cashiers and customers. Restaurants were looking for new ways to present their menus, takeout and dine-in, without physical contact. So Evers created what he calls his “pyramids.” These 15-centimeter pieces of tabletop furniture, resembling metronomes, have QR codes laser-burned into them, which diners can use to call up the menu on their phones. Restaurants love the concept, because they don’t have to laminate and disinfect menus.

“I developed the idea together with a media consultant I know – and we’ve already been commissioned to make the first thousand copies of them,” he says. “It’s become a great story.”