Local industries are easing back into production after experiencing varying levels of down time related to COVID-19 and, in one case, a devastating fire.
F&P Georgia, at 88 Enterprise Drive, is a supplier to Honda and Nissan automotive assembly plants in Alabama. They’re expected to get back into production next week. The Rome plant has been shut down since the last week of March when the automakers they supply slowed down.
“We supply them real time, pretty much one for one,” said Senior Human Resources Manager Nat Massey. “We make a product on our assembly line and eight hours later it becomes a Honda.”
Massey said Honda will ramp up slowly beginning May 11, meaning that F&P will resume operations later in the week.
“We should be almost into full production in three weeks,” Massey said. The company has filed partial unemployment claims on behalf of its employees for seven weeks.
“Sadly, some of our associates have not received any money from the Department of Labor,” Massey said.
Jennifer Cole, another HR manager at the plant, said at least one person in the Department of Labor Rome Career Center has gone above and beyond in a bid to get unemployment assistance flowing for the F&P employees.
The Pirelli Tire plant is back in action and, according to spokeswoman Maria Stella Narciso, running at about 60% of capacity at this point. She said the plant is on path to meeting the needs of its customers.
“Many of our non-factory (production) employees are still working from home,” Narciso said.
Pirelli corporate executives in Italy are constantly monitoring the worldwide situation, she said. Being an international company with plants around the globe, they’re working to make sure that supply chains are functioning as smoothly as possible.
Advanced Steel Technology
Advanced Steel Technology on West Hermitage Road is also back running after furloughing a number of employees for a three-week period.
Human Resources Manager Valerie Pound said the plant never fully shut down. The company typically runs two shifts, but at this point all of its employees are working on a single shift. All 96 full-time employees and five temporary employees are working 40-hour schedules at this time.
“We are at 100% ... but we produce to meet demand,” Pound said. “Demand has been decreased because of COVID.”
International Paper suffered a major fire at the mill on March 14, right around the same time many businesses shut down as a result of a statewide shelter in place order.
The company has been working on a rebuild since getting the green light from fire investigators to get into the building that houses massive paper machines.
“Our rebuild efforts are on schedule for a June start-up,” said IP spokeswoman Jenna Guzman via email. “We will work closely with our contractors, suppliers and providers for start-up efforts.”
During the down time, employees have moved to other sections of the mill to participate in start-up planning and undertake training and other mill improvement efforts. Guzman said the company has also been very mindful of social distancing.
“We continue to be mindful of the effect that COVID-19 has had on our local and national economy, and as an important part of the global supply chain, we are focused on getting our mill up and running in June with safety as our top priority,” she said.
Supporting existing industry
Rome Floyd Chamber President Jeanne Krueger said her staff has been working with leadership of the Greater Rome Existing Industries Association throughout the public health emergency.
“We have emailed them all of the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and OSHA,” Krueger said.
John Zegers, the Northwest Georgia region manager for the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute, helped manufacturers understand best practices during the COVID-19 conditions.
“Our manufacturers are on it. They have risen to the occasion,” Krueger said. “They are looking out for their employees, following protocols and going above and beyond to make sure their employees are safe.”