As state and national guidelines allow for the re-opening of most business establishments, Taylor County businesses are proving their resilience and adaptability. With new health and safety standards in place, many employers are now able to bring back more of their workforce and ramp up production schedules. While not at 100 percent capacity, most manufacturers have around 80 percent of their original workforce back on site.
Reliant upon its biggest customer, Toyota, Murakami Manufacturing USA had to temporarily suspend production in its 300-plus employee plant in late March. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Murakami Manufacturing USA CEO Michael Rodenberg maintained constant communication with his team members, sharing company updates, as well as uplifting messages and words of encouragement. The company also donated hundreds of mask extender clips and PPE equipment to area hospitals, nursing and rehabilitation centers. In late May, after weeks of careful planning, Murakami was able to re-open its doors, welcoming back many of its employees.
“Murakami is happy to be back up and running. We are fortunate to have great customers that need to build vehicles and amazing team members who are willing to adhere to the new social distancing requirements,” said Rodenberg. “Like everyone else, we are figuring out day by day how to operate in this ever-changing environment. Sometimes life forces change, and although this has been difficult for everyone, I believe it has shown us we can do things we used to think were impossible.”
As parking lots begin to fill back up, some local employers found that by quickly implementing work-from-home policies, they were able to continue business as usual. One example of this is Frost-Arnett. The company provides customer care and collections, primarily for health care organizations nationwide and has recently added hundreds of new jobs to its payroll. Frost-Arnett was able to allow the majority of its employees to a work remotely. By doing so, they were able to continue meeting their customer’s needs while making the health and safety of their employees a priority.
Frost-Arnett Chief Operating Office Alan Clayton had positive things to say about the company’s work-from-home shift. “Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks? After 126 years of everyone working in the office, COVID-19 showed us that we had to find a different way. In a one-week time period, Frost-Arnett moved all but 20 of our nearly 400 people across our organization to a work from home environment. This has helped us continue to service our healthcare clients and their patients without interruption. In fact, we are finding that our capabilities are exceeding those of some of our competitors, and our clients are noticing. We have had a number of new opportunities over the last couple of months because our competitors were not able to meet the ongoing needs of their clients.”
Throughout the COVID-19 public health crisis, Taylor County community and business leaders have stepped up to collaboratively support one another, take care of workers and find creative solutions for maintaining operations. From day one, community partners, such as Team Taylor County, Campbellsville Main Street Campbellsville and Campbellsville-Taylor County Chamber of Commerce worked with area businesses to ensure they had the information and resources they needed to weather these unprecedented times.
“For the first few weeks, it was a matter of managing a triage for area businesses, gathering and sharing information and resources, assessing and addressing workforce concerns and keeping community officials informed of the current state of affairs,” said Ron McMahan, executive director and CEO of Team Taylor County. “I was incredibly proud of how our community came together and how quickly businesses reacted in order to minimize the negative impact of COVID-19.”
Even Main Street businesses are proving their strength and adaptability. Most retail establishments were able to shift their focus to online sales, offering deliveries, curbside pickups and/or private appointments. As of today, their doors have also re-opened and all are glad to serve their customers in-person again implementing new health and safety guidelines.
While there is still a ways to go to regain our sense of normalcy, Taylor County has shown its strength and determination to come out of this national crisis with a renewed passion for community. We remain Team Taylor County and Team Kentucky.