At Nugget HQ, we headed into the opening months of 2020 with a full head of steam. We were working through our Backorders from the previous holiday season, scouting locations for our new factory, when... well, you know what happened. Travel restrictions, no indoor gatherings, curbside pickup as the default dinner option, and Zoom calls. Lots and lots of Zoom calls.
Despite being socially distanced from some of our favorite people and places, we've done our best to make it a year worth remembering — in a good way. Through partnerships with community organizations and kids stores around the country, we regularly made lemonade out of lemons, with campaigns like Nugget Cover Club and our One-Stop Shop surprise pop-ups. At our factory, we implemented changes to our work schedule and COVID testing protocols to keep people safe. And all the while, we kept expanding the reach of Nuggets to more households across the U.S. and Canada, moving into a brand new factory in Butner, NC, to help us do it.
We now present our second annual Year in Numbers, a few statistics and figures that sum up the year behind us, and maybe say a little bit about the year(s) to come.
These are the numbers that tell the story of 2020 at Nugget: a year of unforeseen challenges, creative solutions, and continued growth.
There are some big numbers on this list, but let's start with the smallest one: 1. That's what we were ranked among the fastest-growing manufacturing companies in the United States by Inc. magazine, and looking back at the year and how tired we all are feeling... yeah, that sounds about right.
Our intention is not, and has never been, to put fast growth above quality, mission, or values, but as an independently owned, North Carolina-based company, we're proud of this number and what it represents. Without any advertising, the word of Nugget has spread from family to family all over the country, and even better, we've (mostly) been able to keep up. Even though we're far from a growth-at-all-costs type of company, we think that's worth celebrating.
In mid-March, when cases of COVID were taking off in the United States, we didn't have a ton of information — few people did. So we sent everyone home, with pay, until we knew more. In May, with more testing available and a re-arranged work schedule in place, we brought our production team back to work. The factory shutdown, in a year that ultimately saw us triple our Nugget output, ended up lasting for 45 days.
In the most confounding year of all-time, we had more to say than ever. And it wasn't the fluffy marketing stuff either, it was the basics: We're shutting down for now. How long? We're not sure. OK, we're back now — with smaller shifts and limited production capacity. We'll email you when your order is about to ship. Shipping estimate groups will be announced later this month. We're doing a lottery, this is how it's going to work. And so on. How did we — and specifically our Customer Team — make it through the year? In part, because of the 2+ million viewers of our blog, some of whom were maybe just printing out coloring sheets, but many of whom were getting informed on when we were going to next be shipping, how many Nuggets we'd be shipping, and when they might arrive at your door.
During our shutdown, we kept busy as best we could. Although Nuggets couldn't be produced and shipped from our homes, Cover Sets could be. And at the same time, the needs of charities had never been greater. That opened the door to a campaign that has stayed with us ever since: Nugget Cover Club. Across three different "contests" this year, entrants bought as many $10 tickets as desired, to have a chance to win retired Cover Sets from the Nugget Comfort vault. More than 30 winners were randomly picked, and almost $150,000 was raised for charities nationally and locally. We're not leaving this one in 2020 — Nugget Cover Club is here to stay.
We did eventually get back to the factory, though, and when we did, there were a LOT of orders waiting for us. And that meant a lot of foam trucks pulling up to our docks. In total, the weight of the fresh foam we unloaded off of trucks this year so we could assemble our Nuggets totaled more than 4 million pounds.
To keep up with ever-increasing demand for Nuggets, we added more Nuggeteers to our team than ever before. By year's end, we had nearly quadrupled our head count from the end of 2019 — creating full-time jobs in North Carolina with living wages, retirement matching, and health insurance.
We wrap this post up with the same big statistic that we closed last year's By The Numbers with: number of Nuggets made and shipped. With the Nugget in such high demand, this is the number that ultimately defines how we did: how many of those interested families were we able to serve? Despite the challenges, barriers, roadblocks, potholes and everything else of 2020, we got 3x as many Nuggets out of our doors this year as we did in 2019. All it took was a little bit of elbow grease, and a lot of imagination.