In these strange, sometimes scary times of COVID-19, we bring you some calming words from two respected top executives at custom molders: Maureen Steinwall and Norm Forest.
Steinwall is president and owner of Steinwall Inc. in Coon Rapids, Minn. Forest is CEO of Dymotek Corp. in Ellington, Conn.
Planning is a key role for manufacturing company managers. But how do you plan for a pandemic that threatens public health and throws the economy into chaos?
"You're sitting here in a frontier that's never been experienced," Steinwall said. "Your head is spinning a little bit."
Steinwall Inc. already had a disaster plan in place, for things like a Minnesota blizzard or an active shooter.
"So you have all these pieces, but we never talked about what could happen if you have a pandemic," she said. Company leaders since have added social distancing and other features to the plan.
"We went around and looked at how we had people situated with distancing and made a few adjustments," she said.
As of March 20, Steinwall and other white-collar staff were working in their offices, not from home. "We're separated [from the plant floor] and also feel that we're part of a team. As long as everybody's healthy, you have to show strength and not fear," she said.
It's even more important right now to be pragmatic, she said: "You can't be emotional. This is the time for going out and looking for facts, looking at your specific situation and making the decisions you have. But you have to be nimble because it's changing on a daily basis."
The Minnesota molder is posting up-to-date information issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and stocking up on hand sanitizer. A cleaning service came in daily even before the health crisis.
She has been in regular touch with the banks, which she said are ready to help small businesses weather the storm. She's monitoring legislative action.
The company has done some workforce resizing, but Steinwall didn't want to give details.
"If you haven't redone your budget, you better darn well do it," she said.