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How Riedel learns from history to survive world’s greatest challenges

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Riedel has survived some of the world’s biggest challenges – from the Spanish Flu to WWI and WWII – since its inception in 1756.

The novel coronavirus is just another history-defining moment to add to the Austrian company’s extensive list of business hurdles.

Throughout its 264 years of existence, the glassware company has ridden the waves of the global economy with the effects of COVID-19 becoming one of its biggest disrupters in the 21st century.

Riedel Australia & New Zealand Managing Director Mark Baulderstone told The CEO Magazine the company encouraged social distancing at the very start of the lockdown, giving its staff ample time to transition to a remote workplace.

"If you can’t trade through turmoil, your business wasn’t sound in the first place." – Mark Baulderstone

Its ability to swiftly adapt to new circumstances is a testament to the 11 generations – which includes CEO Maximilian Riedel – behind Riedel’s success.

The innovative manufacturer has revolutionised the industry for centuries. From Claus J Riedel designing the first collection of wine-friendly stemware in 1974 to his son Georg J Riedel’s creation of Riedel Sensory Workshops, the European brand has led the charge on innovative glassware.

"Any difficult trading period highlights areas of the business that can be trimmed, nice to have but not essential," Mark says. "My belief is, if you can’t trade through turmoil, your business wasn’t sound in the first place and it’s always necessary to health check your own business regularly."

How Riedel is fronting the challenges of COVID-19

Embracing ecommerce

"The decrease in consumer demand and increase in online shopping has certainly challenged us and our partners over the past month," Mark shares. "We are doing considerably less business and most of this is now through online channels, which requires a lot more time and interaction from my team."

Juggling business with homeschooling

"Like a lot of us, I am trying to help with school work while trying to run a business in distress," he says. "Right now, I get done what I can, when I can; the days don’t have an official start or finish."

Pivoting a traditional business

"We are always looking for ways to grow and evolve, and this time is no different," Mark says. "As online retail has become so important, we have put significantly more effort into the experience side of shopping with us. But, of course, this is always a work-in-progress situation."

Maintaining motivation

"I am a big believer in the benefits of exercise to assist in productivity and focus," he says. "I am lucky as the owners of my gym, CrossFit Active, loaned out equipment to their members and quickly transitioned to online sessions, and this has helped me immensely."

This story is part of our Life in Isolation series. Find out how the world's most prominent figures are working smarter in today's pandemic.

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