Production Moves Forward Amid Virus OutbreakMarch 20th, 2020 by Emmariah Holcomb
UPDATE: Since publishing this article, [DWM]’s editors received notice that Viwinco Inc. was forced to temporarily discontinue operations, following a “Prohibition on Operation of Businesses that are not Life Sustaining” issued by the Governor of Pennsylvania.
As the COVID-19 virus wreaks havoc on world economies, here in the U.S. the door and window industries continue on. [DWM] reached out to several manufacturers to see if production has been impacted and how employees are handling related challenges.
According to Adam Weinrub, president of Vytex Windows, the company is still open and operating on a regular production schedule. Weinrub mentioned that the human resources (HR) department is monitoring its workforce daily, as employees report to work, confirming if anyone appears to be ill, and is sending anyone exhibiting symptoms home as necessary to self-quarantine.
“All of our production and shipping workers are reporting to work and all non-essential office employees are working from home,” Weinrub said. “We have stocked hand sanitizer and distributed it throughout the plant and hold daily meetings to discuss the safety precautions we must take during these times.”
Vytex Windows has also closed its employee lunchroom and put up a temporary dining area inside of its plant to enable workers to sit further apart during breaks. The company’s cleaning service is coming in every day to perform deep sanitizing on all commonly used surfaces in the office and production facility, he said.
“So far, we have seen an effect on our measure and install portion of the business, as some customers look to reschedule their appointments as they have concerns with opening up their homes to our technicians,” Weinrub said. “At this time, we estimate this to be about 15% of our scheduled installation appointments.”
“We are understandably seeing some absenteeism and that is okay,” said Michael Duncan general manager of Viwinco Inc. If people aren’t comfortable being at work right now, we need to support that. We are also being ultra-cautious with people who are not feeling well and having them stay home.”
The company, as of now, remains open and is still on a regular production schedule, Duncan said. He also mentioned that the company’s office workers who are able to work remotely, can. But there have been a few practices the company has implemented, he said, including: hygiene awareness, ramped up facilities cleaning, office staff working remotely, limiting visitors to the facility, along with its outside sales force reducing visits.
The virus has also started to impact the business, too, as “the uncertainty is a big part of the problem,” he added.
“The situation seems to change hourly and is not something people have a ton of experience with. We have to be discussing and prepared for a wide range of situations and action plans,” Duncan said. “Managing the safety of our workforce is our number one priority, and trying to manage that while still thinking about the business take up a lot of focus.”
When it comes to the company’s sales, Duncan says this has been a very strong week, as so far sales haven’t been impacted.
Gem Windows – Canada
Phil Lewin, of Gem Windows Canada, said the company’s installations are still on schedule. Meanwhile, the office is only accepting visitors by appointment and on a one-at-a-time basis. Workers are coming in as necessary, Lewin said. He also mentioned the company is washing down and disinfecting surfaces following any visitor appointments. The business has started seeing impacts to sales due to the outbreak.
“[There has been a] significant drop in sales and customers in the showroom,” Lewin said.
FeneTech Inc. and FeneTech Europe announced that the companies will be executing projects remotely as much as possible, until further notice, while following local government policies regarding travel.
Crystal Window and Door Systems
Crystal Window and Door Systems (Crystal) spokesperson Bob Nyman said there are limited work-from-home opportunities, considering the nature of the company’s work. However, Crystal is staggering its lunchroom shifts so there are fewer than eight people to a table. The company has also increased the frequency of cleaning throughout the day. Some maintenance staff have been shifted to keep up with those needs.
“The company is seeing challenges getting cleaning supplies,” says Nyman, adding that he expects this to be less of a challenge going forward as suppliers catch up with demand.
The company is encouraging increased handwashing, recommending that sick employees stay home and encouraging delivery drivers to wear masks when engaging with the public.
Crystal has also created an executive critical response team, which meets daily to assess the situation, and is cutting back on large company meetings and instead using teleconferencing options where possible, while postponing noncritical meetings with outside vendors or customers.
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