US Extruders is operating with a full workforce but has put in place some additional safety precautions amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve been able to maintain production,” said Bill Kramer, company president.
The state of Rhode Island, where the company is based, deemed it an essential business, meaning it never had to shut down.
“We instituted all the social distancing and other safeguards right from the beginning,” Kramer said. “Our building — the office, and as much as possible, the shop, are cleaned every night. Some of the surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned even more often than that.”
In addition, US Extruders has installed touchless water faucets and flushing mechanisms in its restrooms and foot switches instead of handles for opening doors between the shop and the offices.
“Almost everything is touchless,” Kramer said. “There are a few common tools that we actually went out and bought several of them so that we cut down on tool sharing and things like that in the shop.”
Hand sanitizers are stationed throughout the 47,700-square-foot facility.
About one-half of the office staffers are working primarily from home. Shop employees need to be on site, but the company has increased distances between workstations to protect them. In addition, employees must wear masks when they are in shared areas but can remove them in private offices or in their individual workstations, Kramer said.
Because the company was launched only three years ago by Kramer and several other industry veterans, it has up-to-date technology, including operating in the cloud instead of relying on on-site servers.
“Everything in our business operates from the cloud, so working from home has been very much facilitated by that,” Kramer said. “We can access everything from home that we can from around the office.”
Employees are using Zoom meetings and Microsoft Teams software to keep in touch, and many visits to customers have been replaced with telephone calls or online meetings, Kramer said.
While the pandemic may have caused some customers to delay orders, US Extruders has seen growth in at least one market segment.
“We’ve seen activity in the nonwoven industry quite a bit,” Kramer said. “Nonwovens covers everything from masks to garments. I would guess we’ve seen overall there is some drop-off, but it hasn’t been as bad as we might expect.”
Because the company is relatively new, it is a little hard to judge the effect the pandemic has had on sales volumes, but business continues to grow.
“We right now are operating at sales and shipping volumes higher than we were at this time last year,” Kramer said. “We’re still growing. We’re still in a growth mode and doing better.”
US Extruders, Westerly, R.I., 401-584-4710, www.us-extruders.com