Changing lanes to suit the times.

For many, 2020 has been about embracing and adapting to the unexpected - new circumstances, new lifestyles and new ways of working. That’s been true for businesses, too. Some are on four wheels more than ever before, and many are taking to the road for the first time.

We spoke to businesses from around Australia to learn about the creative changes they’ve made in response to recent events, and how their Mercedes-Benz vans have helped them make new moves.

Estella the Sprinter is keeping Grape Expectations on the road.

With his wine tour business forced to go on hold due to COVID-19, Grape Expectations founder Michael Aveson had to “think outside the box”. 

Estella - his much-loved Sprinter Minibus - was a big part of his business before the pandemic, and is now playing a major role in his pivot. 

“Online sales were still happening, so I approached the wineries we visit when we're doing our tours of the Mornington Peninsula to see how they were distributing their wines,” Michael recalls.

“Although some were using other carriers, they were also keen to support locals, so I started to deliver for them.” 

Now, Michael - and Estella -  are offering next-day delivery to homes and bottles shops in metro Melbourne and along the Peninsula. All COVID-safe and contact-free.

For Michael, success in difficult times means staying positive, humble and continuing to support his local community - and other local businesses - in sustainable ways. He hopes others will continue to do the same once the pandemic is over.

As for Estella? Michael says she’s been “quintessential”, day in and day out. “Although she's a 12-seater bus, we've used the space to ‘pivot' our offering and put precious wine cargo in the rear storage space, and the seats if needed,” he says. 

“She has such a presence on the road and has allowed us to keep moving, keep our brand seen - and do our little bit to support the very important Victorian wine-making industry!”

Bright Brewery keep on bouncing back.

A summer of bushfires had already shaken things up for Bright Brewery, one of Victoria’s most-loved regional craft beer destinations, But in the months that followed, they’ve had to shut for extended periods and change their business model after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“Located in a bushfire-prone area, we diversified our business several years ago to include wholesale and manufacturing so we don't solely rely on tourism,” says Bright Brewery’s Laura Gray. 

“The key to our ongoing survival and ultimate success is a sustainable business plan, and a supportive and innovative team.”

That innovation has appeared in many forms: the brewery offers takeaway meals to their local community, hosts virtual tastings online and has ramped up the production of canned and bottled beer to sell across the country. 

Bright Brewery’s fleet of Vito and Sprinter vans has a role to play too, thanks to the brewery now delivering drinks to the homes of thirsty fans in their home town of Bright, and the city.

“Our vans are really noticeable with our iconic orange branding,” says Laura.

“And people are absolutely loving seeing the Bright Brewery vans roll into their driveways… full of beer!”

 

Biviano Direct deliver the goods at home.

What does a produce provider to the hospitality industry do when commercial kitchens close down because of COVID-19? Biviano Direct made a pivot - delivering to master chefs at home, instead of restaurants and cafes. 

“The key is to never give up, and make changes to survive. I think that business will eventually bounce back,” says John Biviano.

“The changes will be in how we operate moving forward - continuing to structure our customer base across different markets.”

Speaking of moving forward, Biviano Direct’s busy fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters do more than deliver goods door-to-door. They show all businesses that if you innovate, adapt and shift gear, there can be a path ahead.

Anton Gerner Furniture has comfortably changed.

Before COVID-19, designing and building cutting-edge furniture meant a constant stream of clients coming in to Anton Gerner’s showroom in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn.

But when the pandemic hit, things needed to change. For Anton, the first step was moving face-to-face design meetings online, rather than having them in his showroom.

That flexibility and ability to pivot - while continuing to offer unique, high quality products and excellent customer service - have helped Anton stay successful during difficult times. It’s that sort of innovative thinking that he sees as beneficial now, but in the post-COVID world, too.

“The most innovative solutions arise in the face of the greatest constraints,” he says.

“We’re already finding that our clients are looking for unique solutions and multi-purpose furniture for their combined home-office and living spaces.”

Anton’s Sprinter - the second that his business has proudly owned and run - is now being used more than ever, with Anton heading out regularly to pick up materials that previously would have been brought to him.

At Mercedes-Benz Vans, as a passionate partner of Australian businesses big and small, we’re proud to celebrate these stories of innovation, resilience and progress in such a challenging time. And we hope that your business has found a way to forge a new path forward, too.

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