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How the coronavirus is taking a toll on Austin businesses

The CEO of the Austin Tech Council says the longer this lasts, the bigger the problem is.

AUSTIN, Texas — After more than 170 people have died, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global emergency.

Chinese officials have also asked employers in some regions to extend time off to help stop the spread. This is having an impact on local businesses that rely on things manufactured in China.

The CEO of a southwest Austin company said they have the parts to manufacture some of the items they have ordered but unless something changes, production is going to have to shut down, because UnaliWear is making all of its Kanego watches by hand and needs a specific part.

"We're manufacturing just a little bit, but we're getting ready to be stuck," said Jean Anne Booth, CEO of the company.

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"There's a very small board that was supposed to ship right before the lunar holiday," she added. "Best we can tell it got caught up in the quarantine because we're not even seeing the links about it coming through, and that's a fundamental piece to the Kanega watch; it's actually the battery system that drives the watch."

The paperwork they need from their FCC testing in order to sell their product is also currently sitting in China.

"It is causing problems with the parts getting into the manufacturing facilities that need to grow them," said Amber Gunst, CEO of the Austin Tech Council.

She said the longer this lasts, the bigger the problem is.

"If this is a long-term issue we're looking at, this is something that you can't get these shipments outside of the country and globally expanded – then you're going to see issues further down the road," she said.

As for UnaliWear, it is going to keep building what it can and hope its parts get here soon.

"It's interesting when you think for the physical product that we all build in China, when something like this happens, we're all stuck," said Booth.


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KVUE reached out to several big companies in Austin, like Samsung, AMD and Apple.

Dell was the only one who got back, with the following statement:

"We’re evaluating the potential impact of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on our business operations. We’re assessing all options and mitigation plans to help ensure our supply chain remains operational and we’re meeting our customers’ needs. While the situation continues to evolve, our top priority is ensuring the health and safety of our employees and communities. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust as needed."


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