While many businesses were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 situation, others have pivoted and flourished, especially those that are providing essential services and products to help minimise the spread of the virus.

One company that capitalised on the market opportunity was Melbourne-based streetwear company, ‘3rd Chapter’, who, in late 2019, pre-empted the future need for face masks and sanitising products, and started its Sanitex brand.

Sanitex General Manager, James Fatone, said that with its existing retail experience and supply chains, the company was able to react fast to make the most of an emerging market.

“With the onset of COVID, we saw the opportunity to diversify and help out locally and across Australia, supplying Melbourne-made face masks and sanitiser to meet the massive growth in demand,” James said.

“Our knowledge in bringing products to market through our experience with 3rd Chapter, gave us the background and resources we needed to make a fast impact, but as you can imagine, supplying vital PPE has meant that our workload has grown exponentially.

“We did have to adapt the way we delivered our products and how we went about moving goods within states, but this was quickly adjusted.”

To deliver the Sanitex range throughout metropolitan Melbourne, regional and rural Victoria, the company purchased two 50C Daily vans, one with a volume of 12m³, the second with 18m³.

The smaller of the vans is powered by IVECO’s 3.0 litre turbo diesel engine producing 170hp and is used primarily for distribution in metropolitan Melbourne thanks to its more compact dimensions.

For the longer journeys, Sanitex use the 18m³ variant which features IVECO’s 3.0 litre twin turbo diesel engine developing a market-leading output of 205hp. Both vans also feature an 8-speed full automatic transmission for a more relaxed driving experience.

The Dailys replaced several smaller vans and according to James, since their purchase in July, they’ve performed exceptionally well.

“We've used the Dailys for all kinds of deliveries, for metro, urban, regional areas and to even more remote locations. They've stood up to the task every time, they're easy to drive and the fact that they can be driven on a normal licence is an added bonus,” he said. 

“I’ve personally driven both vans and like the comfort – especially the heated and air suspension seats – and the ease at which they drive is amazing. Long journeys are a breeze and the engine power is a bonus as well.”

As well as meeting all the company’s specification requirements covering safety, comfort, volume, fuel consumption and driveability, James said that the purchasing experience through selling dealership, ADTRANS, was extremely professional.

“The ease and help we received from Andrew at ADTRANS was also a factor in us purchasing the IVECOs,” he said.

“Initially we had discussions with another European van manufacturer who kept putting up roadblocks and hindering us. Time being of the essence, we cancelled dealings with them and moved to someone who was more appreciative of our time constraints and urgency.”

Sanitex’s existing range of face masks, hand sanitisers sprays and wipes, and touch-free dispensers are available for purchase at the company’s website: sanitex.com.au, with additional products soon to be added to the product mix.

Giving back to communities

James said that the recent COVID situation also highlighted the need for Australians to support one another.

“Aussies have really pulled together in recent months and we'd encourage every person, whether they're from local or federal government departments, from small business to large conglomerates, to continue to support Australian owned and operated businesses. Especially during these tough times,” he said. 

Since the start of the year, Sanitex has donated over $1.2 million worth of masks and sanitiser to a diverse range of charities including Australian Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Salvation Army Melbourne and Geelong, Geelong Football Club Charity Foundation (distributed to Aboriginal communities), City of Sydney and City of Brisbane charity arms for the homeless, Geelong Mums, Melbourne Mums, Miracle Babies Foundation and Good Shepherd.

James said the donations were made during a critical time in the pandemic and that the recipients were grateful beyond measure.

“Having the Daily vans ensured that we could deliver our products in a timely manner as Australia Post and other logistic companies were inundated and under pressure due to the sharp increase of online ordering,” James said.