By Buck Love / Director of Business Retention
In a January 8, 2020 NLEA Newsletter article, I offered the following article, “Are you prepared for the Unthinkable?” I referenced an industry expert source on Business Contingency Planning to start a conversation and plant the seed for companies without such a plan to begin the process. As business disruptions go, the Covid-19 Pandemic will be remembered, discussed, written about, cursed and pointed to as what life was like “before and after” for a very long time to come. It leaves me with the questions:
- What are the lessons in all this?
- How do we adapt and start again smarter?
- How can I be part of the solution?
As part of the NLEA Emergency Response effort, the staff with the help from Dave Droste from the Petoskey Michigan Works office and Carlin Smith, our new NLEA Board Member from Consumers Energy began to reach out to all our area manufacturing and key industry employers. Our purpose was simply to find out:
- How are you doing?
- What’s the impact of the Covid-19 emergency on your business,.. layoffs/staffing needs? reduced/increased demand? safety needs?
- Are you aware of all the various State & Federal programs out there for financial help?
- Do you have the ability to make items to respond to the COVID-19 threat?
The responses ranged from very little impact to a total company shut down depending on the type of product or service offered and the successive Executive Orders. The greatest impact is for auto related manufacturers with most required to furlough their entire workforce except for those who have transitioned to making PPE face shields for local medical facilities. On the other end of the spectrum, any shelf stable food producer (think canned applesauce or fruit) or related supplier (think robotic packaging manufacturer) has seen an increased demand for their products. Their greatest challenge is keeping their workforce intact by taking measures to ensure worker safety. Some manufacturing companies are taking hard hits to their bottom line as the early spring months are normally their busiest and most profitable (think landscape related or marine services). Others in between are managing by a combination of using remote working for front office / sales teams and creative scheduling to reduce the number of workers on the production floor.
It is little surprise that most all are frustrated… if not by the bureaucracy and red tape for various grant / loan application programs, or the new demands to ensure employee health screening and worker safety, the unemployment benefit process, the endless Zoom meetings or by an extended bout of “cabin fever”. To offer solace and quote one of my favorite characters from the Possum Lodge on The Red Green Show “We’re all in this together, keep your stick on the ice.”