Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Slowdown in demand has led to lost work hours; plants are practicing distancing.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - A KEITH WalkBox unloader, designed by KEITH Manufacturing, of Madras, was among the top new products for 2019 at an international competition. 
, Madras Pioneer - News WalkBox unloader, a smaller version of the Walking Floor system, winner in worldwide competition. KEITH Manufacturing wins in Top-10 productsTwo of the county's largest employers are weathering the effects of the coronavirus on their businesses, both in terms of demand and how their workforces operate.

Dallas Stovall, president and CEO of Bright Wood, said distancing efforts are going well.

"The initial effort was to focus on distancing and barriers where needed," Stovall said. "Fortunately, Shielding Inc. — a Madras company — was able to make 1,300 masks in a couple weeks, so we are fully masked. We have been complimented by OSHA for being ahead of the game, as compared to some others in the area."

Bright Wood gets about 20% of its lumber from New Zealand, so the biggest impact on the company's supply chain was when New Zealand was shut down for four weeks, Stovall said.

"New Zealand is our primary source for high-grade clear lumber for making veneers and long-length stain grade window and door components," he said. "New Zealand's forests are managed plantations where pruning results in a high volume of clear lumber."

By contrast, Chile has not had forced shutdowns, but Stovall said social unrest has disrupted "commercial flows.

"Domestically, we have a good, steady supply base and no significant disruptions," he said.

But demand is also being affected, and that's meant employees working reduced hours "with schedules that allow people to get unemployment to fill in for the time off," Stovall said.

"We are beginning to see a slowdown in building," he said. "For our largest market window and door components, most manufacturers have pulled back on their projections for the next quarter.

"This generally rolls back to the suppliers like us, and inventory begins to balloon. This will be the primary issue we need to manage," Stovall said. "The interior mouldings have been very steady, probably because they are the last thing needed to finish up the home."

Stovall said the company has had no cases of COVID-19 in any of its five locations — two of which are in Madras, as well as Prineville, Redmond and Otautau, Southland, in New Zealand.

He said employees had been sent home for having contact with someone who had the virus, but none of them tested positive for it.

"Our people have stepped up and worked quickly to get mitigation plans fulfilled," he said.

At KEITH Manufacturing, employees have also been given cotton face masks, and the company is encouraging but not requiring their use, said company spokeswoman Laura Crocker.

"Following Gov. Brown's 'stay at home' order, KEITH Manufacturing made arrangements to have approximately one-third of our administrative team members work remotely from home," Crocker said. "We are reminding team members who work from home and at the KEITH facility to maintain a minimum 6-foot distance between individuals. We have designated a team member to monitor areas and remind team members about proper social distancing. We have also increased our cleaning efforts and regularly sanitize shared tools and areas such as break rooms several times a day."

Crocker said as far as demand goes, a number of the original equipment manufacturers that Keith supplies its trademarked walking floors to have temporarily shut down.

"Like the majority of companies right now, business has slowed as we wait for regions, both nationally and internationally, to start opening back up," Crocker said.

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