An inside look at manufacturing during the COVID-19 pandemic
Companies implement virtual communications for customers and employees.
Although the situation changes daily, as it stands currently, the PHCP and PVF industries aren’t seeing a “slow down” due to coronavirus. Actually, according to Goodman, a Daikin brand, many contractors and distributors have been having their best month yet in 2020.
To get some specifics, we chatted with NIBCO’s Vice President of Sales, Ashley Martin, who gave us details on how the global valve, fitting and flow control manufacturer is working through the coronavirus pandemic.
The PHCP industry is deemed essential, rightfully so, and the main goal of companies is to protect their employees while still safely providing the essential products and services needed worldwide; continuing production while prioritizing the health of the community and abiding by government regulations and CDC recommendations. How do we go about doing this?
It’s not easy, but it is clear that staying on top of the news and developments of the virus is key to making a plan of action. NIBCO set up a COVID-19 task force and the company’s leadership team is meeting twice daily to stay up-to-date on the rapidly changing situation.
When it comes to employee safety, NIBCO implemented remote work for its global headquarters team and is enforcing the 6-foot distancing rule inside its manufacturing plants. These changes, along with more strict and meticulous cleaning and sanitation procedures allow the company to continue to manufacture its products.
The now remote customer service team at NIBCO is available via phone call, email, online chatting and even video chatting. Video chats with customer service is a new option that NIBCO put in place to provide customers with a deeper level of virtual service throughout these confusing times.
“One of the greatest impacts I see industry wide stemming from the pandemic is the adoption of new technology,” Martin explains. “In sales, we are finding ways to communicate and connect through technology that we will likely be using for a while. People are adapting quickly and getting used to Skype and virtual conference calls being the new normal.”
So what’s happening on the distributor side to make sure these products are getting out as needed? “Our distributors have been great during this time,” says Martin. “They’ve been communicating with us constantly letting us know what they need and what spikes they are seeing with customer needs. Consistent communication has been key to keeping product flowing.”
Having visited a NIBCO manufacturing facility before, I have seen first-hand the close knit and family like atmosphere they maintain. How can companies keep these great relationships and ensure employees feel like a part of the team during times where physical contact is scarce?
“We are a very social group and like to be around each other, so this has been an adjustment,” Martin says. “We send out daily emails to associates to make sure we communicate regularly and there is a virtual breakroom where employees can talk about anything, not just work. So we are still staying connected and feeling like a family.”
Martin reinforced that business as a whole hasn’t slowed down and they are just as busy, if not busier than before. NIBCO has plans in place to release some new products this year, and according to Martin, they are still working to stay on that timeline.
“We are still working on these products and, as of now, plan to release them at the original times we planned,” she says. “We know things are changing quickly and we might need to make adjustments, but for now, our new releases and projects are still on track.”
Overall, it seems as though consistent and open communication is the way manufacturers, distributors, company leadership teams and employees are making it through COVID-19. Although we’d all love to see this end sooner rather than later, there are some business modifications happening in response that aren’t a bad idea to keep around post pandemic.