ESICA Members Face the Challenges of COVID-19: Strict Compliance, Safety and Resilience Prevail
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
The dramatic spread of COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives,
Manufacturers, distributors, and contractors are creating innovative programs and protocols to minimize the impact of coronavirus on the health of their employees, all the while working diligently to minimize disruptions to their businesses.
We’re pleased to present the ways in which our members have overcome the challenges of this crisis and are navigating the months ahead for the safe return of their people to the workplace.
Owens Corning Takes a Thoughtful and Safe Approach in All Areas of Operation
“The health and safety of our employees, their families, and all of our stakeholders remains our top priority as we work together to provide essential products to our customers,” said Chief Executive Officer Brian Chambers. “In the face of rapidly changing market conditions, we will continue to adjust our operations to meet near-term demand shifts while ensuring we are positioned for long-term success.”
Brian Chambers, Chief Executive Officer, Owens Corning
Owens Corning and the products we make are critical for the continued and immediate operation of other essential businesses and infrastructures including roads and bridges, commercial and residential building construction, wind energy, transportation, and other necessities of life. Our products protect and maintain hospitals, medical labs, schools, military housing, grocery stores, pharmacies and others actively providing critical care and resources to people in need of assistance as well as for building and repair of low-income and multifamily housing.
As an essential business, we must assure the safety and well-being of our employees. OC has implemented many enhanced operating protocols, including robust cleaning procedures, use of personal protective equipment, social distancing, employee health screenings, restrictions, and work-from-home requirements at all of its locations consistent with the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and local state and government mandates. In addition, the company has enhanced sick leave and other healthcare benefits for employees to provide additional assistance.
For Brad Power, Sr. Regional Manager, Foamglas, work-from-home requirements means ‘business as usual’ with constant contact via phone and computer in place of face-to-face meetings. “We have used Zoom and Skype a ton more to answer questions and show our products via PowerPoint presentations,” reports Brad. “I have been in contact with all my customers, addressing questions and concerns such as inventory inquiries … making sure we have enough material available when everyone returns to work. Another sector of my customer base is the engineering community. They have been working remotely as well with questions about applications during this transition. The work is still there … especially if it’s deemed essential!”
Four-Level Operating Framework
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and many countries and regions begin to reopen, Owens Corning has implemented a four-level operating framework, detailing how employees will return to the workplace as restrictions are lifted. The OC Operating Level for a country or state is determined by a combination of both external and internal factors including local regulations and requirements which supersede OC recommendations and must be followed.
Many OC sites recently shifted to Operating Level 3, while others are quickly moving in that direction. These levels may change at any time based on external and on-site conditions.
The OC Operating Level 3 Guidance & Restrictions serve as a comprehensive resource for how the company is conducting business. Given the dynamic nature of the situation, these are updated regularly with the most current version posted for employees on the COVID-19 Guidance site on the myOC intranet. Current operating level 3 encompass guidelines and restrictions covering a wide variety functions ranging from business travel, events and meetings … to safety protocols including face protection social distancing, health screenings and temperature checks, to name just a few. Owens Corning continues to monitor COVID-19 and make adjustments to these materials as needed.
“Level 4, which was total lockdown, is now in our rear-view mirror,” says Brad Power. “When this first started, there were many questions and we had to learn to be patient and accept the reality of the situation. We are all looking forward to Level 2, where we can get out there in person, with restrictions of course, and ultimately to Level 1, a return to normal activity levels. Our safety comes first and OC has put that on top of the priority list. They have always put us first before business. Once we adapted to the restrictions and made a business plan we then turned our attention to tour customers.”
“These are extraordinary times that remind us of the power of the human spirit,” concludes CEO Brian Chambers. “Together, we will get through this. As the world comes together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Owens Corning remains steadfast in our support of our colleagues, customers, partners and the communities in which we live and work.”
Johns Manville Plays a Critical Role in Serving Essential Businesses
Many people think of insulation as material only for residential or commercial office buildings; however, it actually plays a critical role in many essential industries, like hospitals, health care facilities and data centers. These types of facilities were especially taxed during the COVID-19 outbreak and shelter-in-place orders, and JM quickly adapted to ensure that we could safely meet the needs of the essential businesses we help serve while still protecting our employees.
Dave Skelly, General Manager, Performance Materials, Johns Manville
As COVID-19 spread across the U.S., JM responded quickly to protect our employees while still remaining operational as an essential business. Based on the guidelines set forth by the local governments at each of our locations, as well as those established by the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, JM mandated that employees who could work from home do so, in order to limit the number of employees in the plants and offices.
However, remaining operational as an essential business came with calculated risks, and we had our first positive COVID-19 case in our Edison, New Jersey PVC plant in late March. JM responded quickly and quarantined the employee as well as those who were in close contact with him at the facility, and then conducted deep cleaning protocols. This allowed us to contain what could have potentially been an outbreak at one of our facilities. Rather than experiencing a devastating loss, JM was responsive and decisive at this facility, and we used our learnings from this scenario to shape our planning and responses for future cases at other facilities.
“I’m thrilled to say that the employee in question is healthy and back at work, helping to deliver the JM experience for our customers every day,” reports Dave Skelly. “Beyond that, to date, we have had a limited number of cases at our facilities because of the safety measures we have implemented to help protect our employees.”
Remaining Present and Available to Customers and Markets
Over the last several years, we have been honing and developing our competencies in digital communication, electronic market outreach, and e-learning platforms – and this was absolutely pivotal during the shutdown. We used this time to deliver more webinars than ever before, serving as a resource for customers who were working from home and looking to capitalize on their “down time” to further educate themselves.
We delivered ten webinars in a month, on topics ranging from “The Health and Safety of Fiberglass and Mineral Wool” [link: https://youtu.be/UoB1MhhpnNs ] to “Insulation Systems for LNG Piping” [ Link: https://youtu.be/ZamA8O0ADLI ]. The attendance rates at these educational webinars increased significantly during the months people were working from home. Due to this increased attendance, we began producing additional educational content to help meet the demand of the market. Even our their face-to face interactions with customers are limited right now, that certainly doesn’t mean communication and support has stopped. We are leveraging our leadership position on these digital platforms to help address customers’ needs, questions, and concerns remotely.
Adapting to Accommodate Changes in OperationsFeatured in ESICA Review 2020, Volume 2.
By streamlining areas such as the supply chain, manufacturing operations, and transportation logistics, we have been able to largely ensure that service to customers has not been disrupted. The practices we have put in place to accomplish this will continue to be components of the company’s operations going forward as they have helped to streamline and optimize operations. Additionally, we will continue to focus on
e-learning and providing digital resources for customers and the industry.
Our new best practices also include communication rhythms with our employees. Almost overnight, we had to shift to a work-from-home environment, transitioning entirely to digital communication. Our team adapted to working from home very well, and part of that was led by managers staying engaged with their teams. We quickly saw employees and managers utilizing the digital communication tools available to them. This included things such as recurring check-in calls, virtual happy hours, and an expanded use of collaboration software. Many of us, for the first time, had meetings on camera in order to better connect with each other while practicing social distancing.
Despite the fact that many of our employees continue to work from home, our product development projects have continued to march forward. Our product team is effectively utilizing all the resources available to them to ensure that projects in the innovation pipeline have continued to progress. Since our travel has been significantly restricted, we have learned to take new approaches to successfully completing these projects.
IMC Avoids Layoffs Despite Construction Slowdowns
“While many industrial and commercial jobs shut down in the early days of the pandemic, IMC was able to weather the storm. As a full service distributor and fabricator with customers throughout the country, we are diversified enough to catch whatever business was available.”
Marc Napolitano, Vice President and General Manager, IMC Insulation
The construction slowdowns definitely impacted work flow for our employees. We worked in shifts, putting half of our people to work half the time, the others the other half. This went on for quite a while, but we are delighted to say we had no layoffs at IMC.
We are a family business, with a family mindset. We couldn’t have imagined having our staff at home without paychecks. As we told everyone, ‘If you come to work, we’ll keep you working.’ I am so proud that we were able to pay our staff.
I have to say that during this time the cell phone proved to be the greatest thing ever invented. Not everyone at IMC has access to a laptop, or even the internet, and we needed to communicate with employees and customers every day. I did travel to local branches when possible to talk to our people and keep up morale. That was the hardest and most important aspect of this difficult time. I’m pleased to say that everybody did their part, pulled up their bootstraps, and delivered a great job.
One of the more positive aspects of this crisis is that I have been speaking to my managers and local supervisors much more often that I ever did … checking on them to make sure they are okay. This has definitely brought us closer together.
Fastest Inc., Naturally Adapts To Shelter-in-Place Guidelines
Fortunately, since we are a software company that operates in both the U.S. and Canada, we are setup to easily operate remotely with support and training through online meetings and phone calls. During this crisis our customers were able to make the transition from the office to home without missing a beat or missing a bid.
Mike Postiglione, President, Fastest Inc.
Luckily flexibility and the ability to make quick changes on jobs has always been key to survival in the construction industry. Now, this flexibility must extend to where we work as well. This movement away from everyone being in one location, expands the potential for more people to work remotely.
Often, members of our team will travel for training or conferences, making consistent staff meetings hard. During the shelter-in-place, we started using online video conferencing to touch base once a week with everyone in the office. This helped keep us all abreast of new changes and updates that were being made to our software. Now back in the office, we continue this practice to keep contact between employees to a minimum. Even after social distancing isn’t necessary, we will continue weekly online staff meetings to keep traveling employees engaged.
When we needed to quickly let customers know that we were offering free in-home licenses for use during shelter-in-place orders, we added an alert to our software. This was crucial in getting that information in front of our software users when they needed it most. We have also used email, social media and our website as secondary outlets for communication.
Software Technology allows all users, no matter their location, to access their jobs and bids from their computer. And in this climate and industry, where every dollar counts, companies that can adjust and change quickly will be the ones that thrive.