Estacada industrial businesses adapt during COVID-19 outbreak
Though the COVID-19 crisis has impacted numerous aspects of life, several companies in the Estacada Industrial Campus are reporting business as usual.
"We've seen a bit of reduction in volume for the month of March, but it doesn't seem to have hurt things too much," said Nolan Bechtel of Metallion Industries, which manufactures metal roofing and siding for agricultural, residential and commercial markets. "People that are staying home want projects, and our products are part of the picture for a lot of projects — small sheds and porch roofs. That's been a bit of an offset to the whole scenario."
Nearby, Northwest Technologies President Eric Sale noted that a high number of customers working remotely has resulted in slightly slower operations, but the business is faring well overall. The company offers a variety of services, including laser cutting, fabrication, machining and welding.
"It's changed the way customers do business. People are working offsite. We're doing more work remotely and learning how different companies are doing their work," Sale said.
Bechtel noted that many contractors they work with typically schedule jobs several weeks ahead, so the company may feel the economic impacts of COVID-19 in the future.
"Some contractors are saying there's not a lot of work, and others are staying stable. Maybe in May or June we'll feel it a bit more. Time will tell," he said.
Another business with ties to the Estacada Industrial Campus has also yet to see drastic changes because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Sauter Timber, headquartered in Tennessee, will open an additional facility in Estacada in early 2021. Sauter specializes in cross laminated timber, which is created by taking pieces of wood that have been glued together at 90-degree angles and compressing the material into panels that are lightweight while also being extremely strong.
At the Tennessee facility, Reinhard Sauter reported normal operations but cited the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It looks like there is no impact, but some things nobody knows," he said.
Meanwhile, at Northwest Technologies and Metallion Industries, several steps have been taken to ensure safety.
Metallion Industries has implemented a polycarbonate shield at the front desk to protect visitors and workers, as well as increased sanitization practices for work spaces. Additionally, several desks have been relocated to facilitate six feet of space between employees.
"Most of our work doesn't have people lined up close in a production line environment. They're usually further than six feet apart," Bechtel said.
At Northwest Technologies, office visits have been limited, and the company is facilitating an increased number of virtual meetings.
"Our priority is to ensure a work environment that doesn't promote the spread of any virus," said Sale.
Along with facilitating more cleaning, company leaders have also reevaluated how work spaces are utilized.
"We're more attuned to how we set up our work processes to allow for space. We have plenty of space, it's just using it well," Sale said.
Though the future presents unknown elements, both Sale and Bechtel discussed the importance of having a positive outlook during this time.
"Fear is a huge negative thing that makes you go into a defensive mode. That doesn't usually end up being productive," Bechtel said. "We need to stay offensive and think of products people might need in spite of where we are in our world right now."
"During every challenge we've faced, we've learned something that we can use in the future," Sale added.
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