Factories’ responses to order now varied


As Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order goes into effect, the roads of Dubois County will get emptier.

In preparation for the order to take effect Tuesday night, Dubois County factories put plans in place to either pause operations or remain operational with safety measures in place.

Jasper Chair has paused operations until April 7, according to a letter to customers from its president, Jeff Barth, though customer service will continue remotely.

Although identified as an essential business, OFS also chose to pause operations at its facilities throughout the country on a rolling schedule.

“OFS’ primary concern remains, as it has always been, the health and well-being of our employees and their families,” the company said in a prepared statement. “Our promise is always to put people first. As such, with extreme consideration from all perspectives, OFS has decided to pause operations for the ultimate safety of our employees and the communities we call home. During this time, OFS will also provide a comprehensive compensation bridge plan for manufacturing employees.”

According to the statement, facilities in Indiana, Kentucky and California will pause from March 29 to April 12, and North Carolina facilities will pause from April 9 to April 23.

OFS is considered an essential business because it is “one of the largest healthcare manufacturers in the country,” the statement said.

Jasper Engines and Transmissions and other companies under Jasper Holdings will continue to operate as essential business. The companies supply products to the United States Postal Service and other federal, state and local agencies such as the National Guard and border patrol, according to a Tuesday statement from the company.

Although Jasper Engines is staying in operation, the company is providing its employees an additional two weeks of paid time off to be used in conjunction with COVID-19. The time can be used to care for a loved one who is sick or a child who is out of school, if the employee becomes sick or if the employee wishes to self-quarantine.

“We appreciate the dedication, loyalty and skill shown by our Associate-Owners during this challenging time,” CEO and Chairman of the Board Doug Bawel said in the statement. “Each of our Associate-Owners plays a critical role in JASPER’s ability to help others. We often use the phrase, ‘Lives depend on what we do.’ How true that is. Our Associate-Owners’ efforts are valued and appreciated more than we could communicate.”

As a producer of medical equipment, including parts used in respiratory care, Kimball Electronics is an essential business and will remain operational, but with additional safety measures in place.

“Our headquarters facility is closed to the public, with the large majority of those employees working from home, but certain employees who must be on site for support of our manufacturing operations are also permitted under the governor’s order for maintenance of essential infrastructure,” Kimball Electronics CEO Don Charron in a statement.

Farbest Foods is also an essential business as it is part of the food supply chain and will remain operational.

In a letter to employees Tuesday, Versteel also said it will remain operational as it supplies products to government locations, such as military installations and medical facilities including Verterans Affairs hospitals, the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic and Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center.

Kimball International also plans to remain operational as it produces products used in the health care industry. According to a statement received Wednesday morning, the company is putting in place a voluntary leave program for manufacturing employees that will allow them to use paid time off should they wish to stay home. The statement said the company also plans to provide additional paid time off to manufacturing employees. The company also established a Manufacturing Employee Fund to support its employees facing hard times during the COVID-19 emergency, the statement said.

“Our goal is to move quickly to a manufacturing workforce staffed by employees who want to continue working and we will prioritize production of healthcare products,” the statement said. “This will allow us to maintain a small operation to service the immediate needs of our healthcare customers.”

The Herald reached out to MasterBrand and Best Home Furnishings, but did not get a response by press time.

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