Staff member Ryan at work

COVID-19 – Was This in Your Risk Analysis?

Every astute business owner has a risk analysis with plans to mitigate those risks. Within the Component Manufacturing industry, elements such as housing downturn, hacking of systems, machine failings, and staff safety concerns would generally make up the topics. I’d put money on the fact that NO plans had worldwide pandemic at the top of the list. But COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has demonstrated that, even when you plan and mitigate risks, at times it may not be enough. We have all been caught off-guard!

Who could have foreseen the mass hysteria, fear, and anxiety that not just America but the world is now experiencing. Supermarket shelves empty, toilet paper and sanitizer sold out everywhere, schools closing, and a medical system in panic. Let’s put aside political feelings and thoughts on closing borders, imposed isolation, and states of emergency being called. Instead, let’s focus on the actions that need to be taken now.

A few weeks ago (pre-pandemic), Vekta undertook a strategic planning session. One important topic we covered was our values – What do we as a company value? What do we want to be known for in the industry? It has been these values that we have used to guide and inform our decisions regarding actions during this pandemic.

Make it safe

Soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, disinfectant, masks – whatever is needed, we have gone through all avenues to ensure that our team has access to what will keep them safe. Vekta’s engineering and administration staff have all been asked to work from home and have been provided with the necessary tools to do so, including laptops, teamviewer, video conference meetings, and headsets. Team members are required to complete a ”Working from Home” checklist to ensure that their new working environment is safe and adheres to the occupational health and safety levels that are required – an important point for workers compensation insurance.

If we can take actions to help people feel safe and they know we are doing everything we can, then hopefully some of the fear and anxiety will decrease.

Help each other

This has been a clear message through all communication – we need to help each other through this. If someone is sick, they must stay home, period. Then, as a team, we need to cover for them and help each other out. The concept of ”that is not my job” has completely disappeared. Right now, there is no “my job” – there is simply a job to be done, and as a team we work to get it done. When given the opportunity, it has been amazing to see how people have stepped up to the plate.

In this crazy time, the concept of ”helping” has been extended to include the family and broader community. As a team, we’ve discussed who needs or is running out of supplies (toilet paper), medications, or hand sanitizer. We’ve emphasized that, as a group, we can all pull together and help those who need it. Vekta also believes that this is a time for the whole community to step up and help. Offer to help the older person at the shops, give away the mince or the tuna in your cart, check on your neighbors, smile and remember – we are all in this together!

Look for a better way

Building our company, we have always focused on productivity, continuous improvement, and partnering with customers to find a better way in their factories. We always ask ourselves, “Is there a better way this could be done?” However, in this new world, the meaning has slightly adapted. First and foremost, look for a way you can do something that limits your contact with others. Email, call, video conference, even if you are in the office and would normally just go and talk to the person. Manufacturing staff have been asked to reduce contact and proximity to each other, and forklifts, tools, and machines are being wiped down with sanitizer before and after use. We’ve also decided to outsource aspects of production to support our suppliers, specifically smaller businesses that were already under pressure. If they can provide a better way for things to be done, then it is a win-win for all involved!

Speak openly with respect

Communication is the key here. At Vekta, we are having daily meetings with our production staff to keep them abreast of any changes and developments and answering questions. Some questions we just cannot answer, saying so is showing respect to the team. We have also put posters and information sheets around the offices and in the manufacturing facility. We’re encouraging social distancing, including ensuring there is a decent spread between employees when meeting and limiting contact.

Family first

In all conversations, the value and importance of family keeps coming up as a high priority for Vekta. So, how does this translate into actions today? For some, schools have closed. We’ve ensured our team that, if they need to be at home with their children, they will be supported. Be it by working from home or creating different shifts to suit people, all options and possibilities are on the table. If you call Adam, it is highly likely that a 4 year old will answer the phone. The background noise might be a baby crying or a little voice asking, ”More chocolate please, Daddy?” Apologies in advance! At Vekta, we are putting the health and safety of our team and their families first – no apologies for that!

What if you were the customer?

When it comes down to it, Vekta exists for the customer. Even in a pandemic, equipment needs to be manufactured, supplies sent to sites, and services provided. Without the customer, we do not exist. So, to our customers, if you need help, please reach out. Please know that we are doing all that we can to continue to provide the amazing service and support that Vekta has become renowned for.

A few years ago, Vekta started developing an on-line help system, ”Vekta Rescue.” In light of recent events, this system will now provide even greater relevance and support for Vekta customers. Vekta Rescue includes:

  • Training manuals,
  • Resources,
  • Daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance procedures,
  • Troubleshooting guides,
  • Support ticket log-in, and
  • Contact phone numbers.

We encourage our customers to use this resource first for any issues they may be having. It is simple to use and, when accessed at the equipment, it is configured for your exact setup. If you or your operators would like some training on Vekta Rescue, please contact support and an Engineer can remote in and run through the system with you and your team.

In the uncertainty, it is imperative that business keeps going. We’re thankful to be able to offer you American-made products, and we will continue to support our American workers and communities as you continue to support us.

We have no idea where the next few weeks (or more likely months) will take us. When we reach the other side, I feel that the business world will be different. Working from home will be more accepted, meetings for meetings’ sake will be abandoned, and hopefully we might have more consideration for the person whose hand we will shake. At a time like this, I feel comforted that, as a business, Vekta can step-up and allow our values, and not profit, to guide our decisions.

If you are sick, stay home. Wherever you are, wash your hands (sing Happy Birthday twice), and please, stay safe, stay healthy!