Businesses of all kinds have been on a rocky road over the last few months due to the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown.
For the large numbers trading across the border, angst had already been building up over the last four years following the UK's vote to leave the EU, which has left businesses in turmoil over what the future holds.
InterTradeIreland, which was set up under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement to encourage cross-border trade, had already been helping companies cope with the Brexit challenge before springing into action over Covid-19.
Cross-border trade reached an all-time high of £6.5bn in the last quarter of 2019, according to InterTrade's latest report. And a third of firms in Northern Ireland now buy from suppliers in the Republic, demonstrating how inter-connected the two economies are.
Aidan Gough is its designated officer and director of strategy and policy - the top role in the organisation which currently doesn't have a CEO. He says Covid-19 "has had a catastrophic effect on business, and cross-border trade hasn't been immune".
He thinks it could be "two to three years" before relationships return to a pre-lockdown state.
"The most recent figures are the monthly trade figures published by the Central Statistics Office, and they would suggest that between March and April, cross-border trade fell by about 23% or 24%. That's an unprecedented drop which coincided with lockdown. Now we have to make that ground up."
The gradual easing of lockdown is helping. "There's no doubt that there has been a gradual movement back and you'd expect trade levels to start increasing again but the problem is that firms can lose contacts, customers, suppliers when they stop production."
Initially, he is reluctant to say how long recovery might take in the all-island economy as a whole. "In InterTradeIreland we could waste a lot of time predicting, so we're just trying to help businesses who need it."
The organisation has launched an online learning support package, E-Merge, to help firms build online sales platforms, and an emergency business solutions programme to help them understand and access the other supports, such as the furlough scheme and emergency loans.
Firms which say they've benefited from E-Merge include the Armagh Cider Company, which used the package to increase sales for some of its products.
And internally, he says staff, who normally work from its headquarters in Newry, have coped well. "Our staff have been phenomenal, with everyone just working from home. We have really taken to it and it could well change how we think about work in future. If you can maintain productivity, and in some cases improve it, you have to consider working from home more in future, though we do need that social interaction that is the basis of all relationships and business relationships."
It's also supported cross-border firms, including Denroy Plastics in Co Down, with the not-for-profit venture Hero Shield, which has manufactured face visors for health workers.
The Co-Innovate initiative, led by InterTradeIreland and supported by the European Union's INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), provided €300,000 in cash to the Hero Shield companies.
But he says the body doesn't have a sectoral focus in how it helps firms. "Our main priority is small businesses trading across the border in goods and services. Those firms are cross-sectoral though they are dominated by the agri-food sector, and engineering has been very strong.
"But what never ceases to surprise me in any crisis is the resilience of entrepreneurs and the way they will react. There's no doubt for many businesses it has been catastrophic, where markets have disappeared, especially for those firms which rely on the travel industry.
"But such firms have been looking out for other markets and that resilience has been inspiring in many cases. Now we are seeing businesses that are opening up again and bringing back staff, and ultimately we'll see how demand goes in the wider economy.
"We haven't seen the full extent of the Covid-19 crisis on employment figures and there are rough times ahead. But you have to look at the positive resilience of the entrepreneurial community and how quickly they bounced back from the financial/construction crisis of 2008.
"The vast majority of the companies we help are availing of the furlough scheme - about 75 to 80% of them, and so far the extent of redundancies among them has been quite low."
He says he believes people are readjusting to the "new normal" (a "horrible term", he thinks), with the lockdown process speeding up the use of technology.
But there are other challenges to come, from Brexit to the growing use of other technologies such as artificial intelligence.
He says InterTradeIreland has been successful in encouraging cross-border trade. "It has been a big success, on average growing by a rate of 4 or 4.5% every year over the last 20 years, and small businesses tend to dominate.
"Many of those will then start exporting off-island after trading from north to south."
He is hopeful, therefore, that it will bounce back.
He thinks trade from south to north has taken a bigger hit, perhaps because the lockdown was more drastic in the south than in Northern Ireland.
But he adds: "I would be hopeful it bounces back quickly because of the relationships and closeness there is, and it's up to us to help business achieve that outcome.
"If you were going to return to a situation close to what we had before, given the growth and interaction and relationship between the business communities north and south, I'd be very hopeful that we can make that up within two or three years."
Aidan has worked with InterTradeIreland since it was set up under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement as one of six cross-border bodies to bolster relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Business relationships on the island were very different then. "You really had a situation where the business communities were back to back because of the period we'd just come out of. Over the last 20 years we've seen a real engagement and that's why I'm hopeful about the post-Covid-19 era."
He says more information is gradually emerging about Brexit though there are major gaps. "The NI Protocol goes a long way in settling issues about the trade in goods but there are still important areas to be covered in trade negotiations. And the biggest area where there still has to be agreement is in services - that's the fastest-growing sector in cross-border trade and was up nearly 11% in our latest figures. That's an area where there's still considerable uncertainty."
Another area of difficulty is in the issue of cumulation - where Northern Ireland goods are traded with the south, then exported off the island into other markets. But he says he is hopeful that a comprehensive trade agreement can be reached.
Before InterTradeIreland, Aidan was director at the NI Economic Council, which advised the then-Secretary of State on economic policy.
The 59-year-old is from west Belfast. He and wife Fionnuala, an IT teacher, now live in Newry. They have five children ranging from 32 to 17 years of age, and four grandchildren.
As an economics graduate, he's intrigued by how any recovery will take shape. "I think for young people, they will come back very quickly but older and more vulnerable people will maybe be more reticent. So recovery is going to be very cohort-driven or sector-driven."
And, while he's been seeing plenty of economically choppy seas, he's looking forward to fully resuming his hobby of surfing post-lockdown. "I love surfing around Mullaghmore, Bundoran and Rossnowlagh."