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The PVF Roundtable Board learned of some amazing ways our members are supporting their staff and giving back to communities near and far. We have heard from employers, employees and PVF RT members from all over the United States about some incredible strides being made to offer COVID-19 support.
Elite Supply Partners has seen an intense shift in the industry, as has everyone, for the majority of 2020. “We implemented numerous changes throughout the office to ensure the health and safety of our employees, our customers and suppliers,” says President Brett Lossin.
The company — along with Wolseley Industrial Group, Welding Outlets Inc. (WOI) and OK Pipe & Fittings Inc. — provided masks to employees and increased sanitization efforts across the board to keep their workplaces a safe environment for all. Similar to so many PVF members, they also are going above and beyond to create a larger impact through community, staff, business relations and globally.
Chris Fadden, director of Wolseley Industrial Group, says: “A group from Wolseley Industrial Group, a division of Ferguson in the Gulf Coast, donated disposable masks, washable masks and hand sanitizer to customers in the community. The support is in keeping with Ferguson’s larger COVID-19 response to support the communities where we live and work.
“To date, Ferguson, Wolseley Industrial’s parent company, has donated more than 70,000 N95 face masks to health-care organizations throughout the country and have so far participated in more than 50 temporary hospital projects. These projects created more than 12,000 additional patient beds across the United States.”
In a recent announcement on Ferguson.com, the company says: “The crisis undoubtedly changed the way we all live and work. On our end, we’ve set up an organized response system to handle the many inquires coming in to support local hospitals and pop-up facilities across the country.
“From delivering jobsite trailers and emergency water heaters to providing products for field hospitals at facilities such as CenturyLink Field and Sleep Train Arena, we’re working with a variety of essential businesses in different industries to help our communities push forward. Together, we can make a difference. Together, we’ll get through this stronger than ever.”
“As an employer, we’ve adapted to a more flexible working environment throughout the organization,” notes Elite Supply Partners’ Lossin. “A big part of this is understanding that this pandemic caused changes in our employees’ personal lives out of their control, which in turn impacts their professional lives.
“For example, many of our employees are having to stay home with their children for virtual learning. Other employees have had a difficult time finding individuals to watch their children while they’re at work. Because of situations like these and similar ones that will continue to arise, we’ve all adapted together.
“Also, like most other companies, we’ve put many protocols in place to keep the health and safety of our employees, customers and suppliers at the forefront of our new environment. Travel restrictions, temperature checks, social distancing, wearing face masks and sanitization efforts around the office are now part of our standard work routine.
“I’ve been very proud of all our employees for taking this situation so seriously. From wearing face masks and handwashing, to conducting themselves safely outside of work, employees have understood the importance of these measures as they put the safety of everyone around them first.”
James Bordwine of Welding Outlets Inc. says the company also has implemented cleaning, disinfecting and social distancing protocols to help keep employees and visitors safe. The distributor provides PPE including WOI-branded hand sanitizers and masks for the employees.
“For more than 2 months, WOI provided daily lunches to employees so they didn’t have to leave work, which we believe lowered their risk for exposure,” Bordwine states. “These provided lunches strategically helped the community as well — numerous local restaurants prepared and sold the meals we were providing. It was wonderful to see WOI owner and President Sheryl Michalak and other company personnel jump in and help serve lunches to our team.”
The nature of doing business and maintaining relationships in the age of COVID-19 has seen a big change, too.
“A lot of business moved from face-to-face meetings to virtual communication,” Lossin notes. “Zoom meetings, video conferences, FaceTime calls, phone calls and emails have all become the new norm for conducting business. We have seen a lot of customers who have not returned to the office and are still working from home, especially in companies’ corporate offices.
“We quickly adapted to visiting with customers and suppliers mostly through unconventional methods to maintain relationships. Lately, we have been able to visit some offices in person, but only through strict protocols, including social distancing, wearing face masks, taking temperatures, and more. COVID-related regulations greatly limited the time we are able to spend with customers. In-person meetings have all been reduced tremendously.
“Business has become more impersonal in many aspects and it’s much harder to form and nurture personal relationships. However, we have adapted and are moving business forward, despite these challenges.”
Traditionally, OK Pipe & Fittings Inc. participates in Well Aware’s Shower Strike Campaign each year, raising money to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to water scarcity and contamination in East Africa. These life-saving water systems drive economic development and empower communities while decreasing disease and increasing education, agriculture and commerce.
Because of the pandemic, the annual Shower Strike was cancelled due to the importance of water and hand-washing during this outbreak. Well Aware focused its efforts on providing emergency sanitation and hygiene support to help rural East African communities combat the virus through an Emergency Wash Fund Campaign, in which OK Pipe continued its support.
“Several years ago, my daughter found this organization that needed help building water systems in East African communities and wanted our family business to participate, seeing that we were in the water/wastewater industry,” says Gabe Hatfield, president of OK Pipe & Fittings Inc. “Erinn Wright, director of development at Well Aware, reached out to us about the rapid spread of COVID-19 in these communities and we knew we had to help.
“We recently received a video link from Well Aware with school children, water system engineers and local mothers in Kenya thanking us for our support, along with a clip of a new, spewing water system in their village. We honestly couldn’t be prouder to sponsor this incredible organization and the extremely talented people at Well Aware who make this happen.”
We Are One
Fadden is proud of the priorities his company is taking during these uncertain times. “Wolseley Industrial Group/Ferguson is doing everything we can to provide a healthy environment for our customers, associates and communities,” he notes.
Each one of our PVF Roundtable members are doing their part in some way to help each other through an extremely challenging year, and the collaboration of all these efforts are bringing us closer together within the PVF community. We are effectively linking together to create a ripple effect of hope and support that starts here at home but is carried out globally.
“Overall, our employees and fellow members of the PVF industry have all been great at adapting and understanding the importance of change,” Lossin explains. “At the end of the day, we are all going through this together — employees, customers, suppliers, and competitors alike — and I think we all take solace in knowing this is the new normal. 2020 will definitely be a year we all remember and will shape our industry in many unique ways for the future.”