In a recent virtual webinar with Mennonite Economic Development Associates, JMX Brands Co-Founder and CEO Jim Miller spoke on how the company’s brand DutchCrafters navigated the global pandemic. One year after the pandemic broke out, the largest online retailer of Amish Furniture at www.dutchcrafters.com not only remains open but is experiencing significant growth despite 90 percent of staff members working from home.
Though many businesses have suffered throughout the pandemic, Miller recognizes multiple factors to DutchCrafters’ tremendous success. The company had been focusing on Search Engine Optimization and was seeing improvements in the first quarter of 2020, which resulted in an increase in revenue by the end of the second quarter. Accompanying this SEO work is what Miller refers to as a “Covid accelerator,” or the positive impact COVID-19 had on internet retailers with a substantial increase of people shopping online.
With a sudden increase in business, it was difficult for DutchCrafters to keep up with the influx of orders. Going into the second half of the year, Miller and his fellow executives started hiring ambitiously to meet the demand and increase the company’s bandwidth to ultimately optimize revenues. Though it was a successful business year for JMX Brands, the company was not immune to negative impacts from the pandemic.
“I look back on 2020 as one of the best years and one of the worst years,” said Miller. “It was the best because of the phenomenal growth we had and the new jobs we were able to create through that process. It was one of the worst years because we have been in work-from-home mode for so long, which has had an erosive effect on our ability to connect with one another, as well as our company culture, leadership, and onboarding process.”
In the past year, JMX Brands went from 40 employees to 65 employees. Over one third of the company’s employees did not work at JMX Brands prior to COVID-19. This presented a great challenge to the company to ensure a smooth onboarding process. It was also difficult for newcomers to acclimate to company culture and learn practical tasks for their jobs. However, Miller devoted himself to finding unique ways to instill the company values across the board.
“When we realized we were a very fortunate company — that revenues would remain strong and we wouldn’t have layoffs — I challenged our employees to give financially to All Faith’s Food Bank in an expression of our core value of giving,” said Miller. “More than 80 percent of our employees stepped up and reached into their own pockets to give. We were able to send a check collectively as a company and make this value tangible amid the pandemic.”
Despite the challenges, DutchCrafters continued to experience a tidal wave of business and record-breaking revenues. Today, the entire staff continues to provide the highest quality of Amish-made furniture to customers across the U.S. while working from home.