Operating During the COVID-19 Crisis

Posted by Cheryl Savit for KitchenVisions, Member of the PR Committee

 

In a month when everything changed so drastically and rapidly, EM NARI member companies faced unprecedented challenges. While rushing to adjust to the daunting realities, a sense of comradery and helping one another has emerged as the overriding response thus far.

Here is a sampling of how some companies have addressed and shifted with the situation:

Kevin Cradock, President, Kevin Cradock Builders

Confused by the mixed messages from the state, on March 15, Kevin and his team put together a full set of job site cleaning procedures. This was implemented on Monday, March 16, but by the end of the day, they got word of the Boston construction ban. On March 17 they began shutting down projects and remained closed until April 1. By then, there were new state guidelines to follow. Kevin reinterpreted those into their own written policy. Since April 1, they have slowly been reactivating jobs and bringing staff back to work on projects where the home is unoccupied. “Work is slower and more expensive now. We have only one sub in at a time instead of 3-5 and we are doing more carpentry in-house rather than subbing out to keep things flexible,” says Kevin Cradock. 

Kevin was also interviewed for NBC Boston which can be viewed here and by JLC Online which can be read here.

 

Kathy DeMeyer, Owner/General Manager, Encore Construction Company, Inc.

As soon as Kathy DeMeyer and her team saw that this was hitting close to “home,” they gathered their staff to discuss their options. Kathy says they wondered “would people feel comfortable coming to work if we were allowed to continue? Everyone agreed that as long as they felt safe coming to work, they would do so. Most of my office staff can work from home and they have been doing that. We decided early on to continue to pay our staff whether they were working or chose to stay home. We are all very close and both Dale and I felt it was in everyone’s best interest to do that.” They have applied for the PPP (Payroll Protection Plan that was part of the stimulus) and hope they will be able to recoup their payroll, rent, and utilities from that. 

“The bigger picture is that we value our employees and want them to be whole when this is over with,” Kathy says. “These are unprecedented times, and as always during life, we need to make adjustments. Keeping everyone safe is of utmost concern.”

All of Encore’s jobs are still in production as homes are unoccupied at present. They are fortunate that the lumber yards are still working and they have had no problems with lumber supplies. Their cabinet manufacturer is still also working, with Encore’s support and encouragement. They do not work at a home where the owner is there.

Currently, Kathy is calling Project Managers separately instead of meeting as a group. She looks forward to resuming staff meetings as she says ‘there is nothing better than to have all staff together to discuss items.”

 

Justin Zeller, President of EM NARI & President, Red House Custom Building

Justin has been proactive as well, communicating with office and on-site staff. Most office staff are now working from home. A few projects in progress have remained active, mostly where homeowners are not present. He has been working with Michelle to keep EM NARI members apprised of developments as well.

 

Jodi Swartz, Principal, KitchenVisions

KitchenVisions is a design studio based in Natick that includes space planning, planning for interior remodels with an emphasis on kitchens and baths. Since much of their design work can be done remotely, the KitchenVisions team has continued operations throughout the pandemic. They have been able to meet virtually with clients, design spaces, help with selections, and prepare cabinet orders and other materials for future construction.

Jodi sent a letter to clients and has been in touch with all of the contractors with whom KitchenVisions collaborates. Some have shut down operations for now, while others are continuing to do some work in unoccupied homes or areas (basements, attics) with separate access. While inquiries have slowed down with the uncertainty in the economy, projects that had already begun design work are progressing with a summer start date. They are adjusting production dates as needed. 

 

EM NARI is providing ways for company leaders to connect and problem-solve. Be sure to look for our weekly Zoom meeting chats for EM NARI Contractors throughout April 2020. The group shares insights, information, and best practices as they collectively navigate the new way of doing business during the COVID-19 crisis.

 

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