“We’re all in this together.”
Influencers and commentators utter these words repeatedly on TV and online as we try to figure out how to live in a world with COVID-19. Though it’s beginning to sound like a broken record, the sentiment is one Mueller takes seriously.
“What we’re going through right now is unprecedented,” said Carl Stober, vice president. “Nobody has a rulebook or a playbook; nobody’s done this before.”
As restrictions due to the outbreak start to loosen and businesses begin thinking about bringing people back to work, leaders are looking for the best ways to make things safer for employees.
Since the start of the pandemic, Mueller has continued operations as an essential business. Utilizing our core values like responsiveness and teamwork helped us adapt quickly and put our resilience to the test.
“When you’re in a crisis, that’s when you find out whether they’re just words on paper or something that sounds nice—or actually a way of living and a way of doing business,” said Ken Stober, president.
We think companies need to use diverse business flexibility and learn from each other during this time of transformation. So we’re sharing the steps Mueller took to transition into a post-COVID-19 enterprise in the hopes that you’ll do the same.
What Action Did Mueller Take at the Start of the Outbreak?
Mueller’s been through crises before. From supplying the first fuel tank gaskets for U.S. fighter planes in WWII to surviving the Great Recession of 2008, we’ve seen our share of struggle.
Because of past experiences, we developed a disaster recovery plan more than a decade ago. As news of the COVID-19 outbreak started to get worse, we began putting that plan into action.
Mueller began testing remote work with a few office employees to see if there were any problems and work out any kinks. Then, once the stay-at-home order was issued, all office employees were immediately transitioned to remote work.
In sales, the reps were able to keep in touch with customers and attract new business by going online. In-person meetings in Raleigh and Atlanta that would have taken days of travel turned into video conferences within minutes of each other.
“As we were trying to keep up with things as they changed, the workforce was right there with us,” Carl said.
On the production side, Mueller is socially distancing employees by staggering shifts and adjusting hours to accommodate their schedules, as well as our customers’ needs.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way our employees have stepped up and communicated and sacrificed and worked from home—and come into the facility,” Ken said.
“I’m grateful. I’m very grateful,” Carl added.
How Does Mueller Continue to Update Safety Measures?
All of Mueller’s meetings have been moved to a digital platform. From the company-wide gatherings down to the one-on-one discussions, every daily, weekly, and monthly meeting is virtual. This use of diverse business flexibility keeps communication flowing, which is critical. Our executives, department heads, and workers never skip a beat.
When office employees do return to work, we plan to hold any meetings at minimum capacity and disinfect the area after use. We’re working on a social distancing policy and even considering bringing back cubicles.
In high travel areas, Mueller is leaving doors open so people don’t have to touch handles. On other doors, we installed elbow hooks to eliminate the need for hand contact. We’re utilizing touchless paper towel dispensers in bathrooms and automated drinking fountains in common areas. We also removed some tables and chairs from places like the cafeteria to create more space.
Health Monitoring and PPE
All Mueller employees have their temperature taken before they enter the building. We’ve also instituted a quarantine process for any worker who travels. Though some personal protective equipment (PPE) was hard to find at first, masks, gloves, safety glasses, and disinfecting wipes are all used regularly at our facility,
What Has Mueller Done to Help Others During the Pandemic?
Face Shield Production
Mueller recognized the need for more PPE the moment we started foraging for it for our workers. Because we had supplied components for face shields for years, it was only natural that we use our diverse business flexibility to come up with our own design and start production as soon as possible.
Now we have a team dedicated to making PRO-SHIELD 1. Our face shields can be purchased in large quantities for distribution among healthcare workers and other first responders. The Mueller team was eager to get behind this project.
“I think really what kind of spurred them on was knowing that every part they were making was going to increase someone’s chances of being safe,” Ken said.
With every purchase of PRO-SHIELD 1, 5% of the proceeds go to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Adapt and Thrive
Now you know how Mueller has been able to use diverse business flexibility to successfully transition its operations in the wake of COVID-19.
Implementing remote work, social distancing, and virtual meetings—along with limiting contact, monitoring health, and using PPE—let us stay in business during the pandemic. Adding face shield production allowed us to give back.
With responsiveness, teamwork, and a little innovation, your organization will be able to adapt and thrive as you deal with the effects of this pandemic.
“Everybody is trying to get this right,” said Michael Bryant, sales manager.
“I spend most of my day reading articles and blogs on what other companies are doing to see if they can be adapted to Mueller,” added Ed Boteilho, quality assurance and EHS manager.
With that thought in mind, let us know what you’re doing to create a safer environment for your workers and maintain or increase your productivity.
“So we can all learn from one another instead of all of us having to learn the same lesson over and over on our own,” Mike said.