American Woodmark, Café Valley Continue Operations Amidst Pandemic

by Katherine Perryman

Many factories across the country are closing their doors temporarily in response to the spreading pandemic. President Trump issued a recommendation to limit gatherings of people to no more than 10. General Motors, Honda, Fiat-Chrysler and Ford are among some of the bigger known companies in Indiana who have shut down temporarily in an effort to stop the spread of the growing illness and encourage employees to stay home.

However, some companies, like American Woodmark and Café Valley, have chosen to continue operating. American Woodmark in Gas City has many employees who hold positions that require them to be in close proximity to each other. They began implementing safety measures on March 19th:

Some employees feel these are adequate, while others don’t.

Jessica Ervin, an employee at American Woodmark, believes the measures will be effective. She said, “I’d rather be here than stuck at home not getting paid… we’re wiping everything down every couple of hours and reinforcing hand washing. They’re making sure everyone’s staying six feet away from each other.”

Jessica expressed she felt the six-foot rule was an effective precaution. “I think they’re doing a good job enforcing it. Someone got wrote up for not complying.”

However, with Grant County’s public health department announcing the first “presumptive positive” case of Coronavirus, concerns are growing.

Hunter Abrams, an American Woodmark employee, stated:

That rule can only be applied so much. I work in the ‘The Mill’ [a part of the factory that uses heavy machinery to cut wood] so we wear earplugs and its difficult to hear so we have to get closer to each other to communicate. I think that it’s not effective use at all. A cough or sneeze can travel 18 feet. Two people in the factory have been tested and came back negative. I’m not one for hypotheticals but what if they came back positive? It would have been too late.

Todd Hamilton works in the ‘Cabinet Assembly’ department. While he feels the company should close temporarily, he also feels the safety measures being taken are effective. “I feel safe out there,” he said. “We as well have had a safety meeting about the virus. The safety department is on top of it daily!”

The good news is Hamilton has confidence if the company were to shut down, they would continue to provide pay to some employees, “I believe they would pay us regardless, for individuals who have worked there a year or more.”

American Woodmark isn’t the only one. Café Valley in Marion, a factory known for the production of its baked goods, has also chosen to continue operating while imposing safety measures.

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