Peelle Canada Responds to Covid-19
This Readers’ Platform explains how the 115-year-old company didn’t stop manufacturing, while addressing health and safety.
by Michael J. Ryan
When the world began to suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic, The Peelle Co.’s senior management met quickly to address not only our own sustainability, but also to brainstorm on how to best serve the elevator market during the crisis. Peelle’s response was swift and took place mid-March, affecting both office and manufacturing staff.
Peelle was deemed an essential service and continued manufacturing throughout the months of March, April and May. Several changes were implemented to address the health and safety of the company, our personnel, our customers and our suppliers. Manufacturing staff had the option of taking vacation time, being voluntarily laid off or continuing working. Deep cleaning of all surfaces began during both shifts. Onsite office personnel was reduced to only those needed to support the manufacturing staff, group meetings were not permitted, and social distancing guidelines were established. Additionally, no outside contractors or visitors were permitted inside the facility.
The office staff was sent home, and, thanks to our information-technology infrastructure, everyone continued to work and participate in daily department conference calls and/or web meetings. Travel was suspended from mid-March through May. Anyone returning from travel was self-quarantined for 14 days. Any staff member who encountered someone positive for COVID-19 was required to self-quarantine for 14 days and could only return to work if they were symptom-free.
Peelle also posted numerous company announcements on social media sites and industry message boards to inform the elevator community of our COVID-19 response, including production schedule, available products and services and sales policy modifications. While Peelle has traditionally relied on its outside sales force to sell, survey, train and problem-solve, the team was grounded during the pandemic. Conducting virtual meetings and training sessions has become routine. As of May, there remains an increase in our email and phone contact, since no sale travel is scheduled. Marketing programs were created to support elevator contractors servicing their customers in new ways. Some of our salespeople even conducted virtual “happy hours” with their customers. Our local UPS store was helpful in fulfilling and shipping swag and brochure requests; the factory relocated some of our marketing inventory to UPS.
Some post-COVID-19 policies will likely stay in place. Select staff will remain in home offices in the proper situations. Peelle will continue deep cleaning of all surfaces during both shifts. Visits to the manufacturing facility by contractors, suppliers and guests will be by appointment only and conducted in a restricted area. Sales presentations will continue to be delivered virtually in conjunction with an increased social media presence. The new business normal will dictate the frequency and necessity for field and office visits to elevator contractors and consultants by traditional outside sales personnel.
The market after COVID-19 will be driven by how the new normal is defined. How we shop will drive changes in brick-and-mortar retail, versus online retail warehousing and distribution. How we play will drive changes in food service, stadium, theater, hospitality and travel. How we work will drive changes in office, warehouse and manufacturing facilities. No one really knows what the post-COVID-19 world will look like, but it’s likely to be different than today. I would anticipate that construction, and, by extension, the elevator industry, will slow down and contract, but then shift to a new normal and expand to reflect how our world has been forever changed. Countries will adjust on their own schedules, based on their initial COVID-19 response and unique characteristics. Suppliers doing business internationally will experience a response lasting many months as those countries return to their new normal.
Well-managed companies adjust to new environments, and some thrive after a significant change in their traditional business model. Peelle will continue to manufacture its core products, adjust as necessary, look for new opportunities and address the changing vertical-transportation world.