Mark Deuschle, President of Navajo Incorporated, shared that the last six weeks in business has been a crazy roller coaster. “The things I have learned in my career over the years to manage people and business are completely different now. Every day has been a learning curve and the rules have changed.”
Navajo Inc. is an assembly and distribution manufacturer with contract companies in Colorado, Oregon, and Tennessee as well as sourcing offices in China and throughout Asia. At one point, his product from China was quarantined as the impact of the virus was unknown. In Portland, the company was completely shut down and in Colorado, Mark had to navigate the policies between counties. One facility is in Denver County and the other is a half mile away in Adams County and yet differ in their guidelines and rules.
Some employees are working from home, others are essential and working onsite, and yet others have been furloughed, terminated, or hours have been reduced. The processes that have been needed for each of these groups is completely different and requires individual care and attention.
To help bridge the time while employees are waiting for unemployment benefits, Navajo has an employee loan program. The loan is at a low-interest rate and can be paid back over time.
Financial assistance through the CARES Act has made it easier for business leaders like Mark who are faced with making tough decisions. In navigating unemployment benefits for his employees, Mark says the process is more complicated, but the benefits are more significant in scale. For example, under the CARES Act, impacted employees are potentially eligible to receive up to an additional $600/week and there is an increase in the number of weeks an individual may receive benefits. Yet, to qualify, employees need to be sure they understand their situation and options completely. If an employee does not feel safe and therefore decides not to come to work, it is considered job abandonment and unemployment is likely not to apply. However, if an employee has COVID-19 or takes a leave of absence to care for a family member diagnosed with the virus, they qualify for 14 days of PTO under the CARES Act.
New polices have also been needed for employees who are working onsite. The learning curve has included establishing three shifts to limit the number of people coming to work, removing chairs from the conference room, and understanding evolving regulations through OSHA. It is not enough to provide masks, but Mark has learned it is necessary to train employees on how to put on and dispose of masks.
Now, more than ever, Mark has learned the importance of connecting with other CEO’s and operational business leadership in the manufacturing space who are navigating the same issues. “None of us is as smart as ALL of us” has been a relevant motto during this time. The learning curve is cut in half with the shared learnings discussed in a collaborative group.
Mark has volunteered to share what he has learned in a webinar next Thursday, May 7th. Details are below. Please join us!
ONLINE EVENT for Employers
Navigating Resources During COVID-19
Thursday, May 7 | 12:00-1:00 pm
Are you finding it challenging to navigate the resources available for employers as a result of COVID-19? Kelli Woodworth (Senior HR Business Partner at Xenium HR) and Mark Deuschle (President, Navajo Manufacturing) will discuss their experience, employment programs, and resources to help business owners and leaders move ahead.