Across the cleaning product supply chain, companies have increased production, adapted manufacturing lines, donated money and resources, and taken extra measures to protect their employees. Here is one such story from Pilot Chemical Company. See our full COVID-19 Impact Report for more.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., Erin Isaacs’s biggest challenge, as Plant Manager of Pilot Chemical Company’s Avenel, New Jersey, plant, was helping her team overcome fear. Within weeks, they had gone from knowing of the virus to knowing people who had contracted the virus and were fighting for their lives. A month later, team members were losing family, friends and neighbors.
For Erin and Pilot, keeping the team healthy and safe during the pandemic has been the number one priority. Because the plant employees manufacture the ingredients that go into cleaning products and detergents, they’re considered essential workers. Erin ensures that numerous safety measures are implemented properly, including maximum social distancing, routine temperature checks and regular deep cleaning.
Her team has also proactively looked for opportunities to help each other minimize exposure risks. They’ve combined grocery lists and shopped for each other, and they’ve worn masks since well before the state order was mandated. When masks were in short supply, one team member stepped up and sewed hundreds of 3-ply fabric cloth masks for the plant employees and their families.
“All of us at Pilot Chemical take pride in doing what we can to help. A lot of love has gone into this initiative and I’m proud to be a part of it. We’re taking care of each other and looking out for one another, and that’s here to stay.”Erin Isaacs, Plant Manager, Pilot Chemical Company
While the team fortunately has not had anyone become infected with the virus yet, they did have an employee’s spouse who contracted the virus. When that happened, it became a plant-wide mission to keep the employee safe while he focused on the health of his family. The team made regular deliveries of sanitizing and disinfecting supplies, PPE and whatever else he needed from the store. Thankfully, his wife made a full recovery and the employee did not get sick.
The team really wanted to give back to the community as well, so a group led by Sarah Mester, Pilot’s Director of Corporate Development, banded together in April to form a new Healthy Neighbors initiative.
Though Pilot doesn’t normally make hand sanitizer and liquid soap, it does manufacture the building blocks for them. Sarah worked with her team to figure out production logistics while Erin identified organizations – including first responders, assisted living facilities, hospitals and nonprofits providing essential social services – that would benefit from donated supplies of these items.
At times, the team needed to come up with creative ways to meet the needs of specific organizations. For assisted living facilities, the team developed multiple spray solutions and bottle sizes which enabled the residents to independently utilize hand sanitizer. Sourcing spray bottles for the hand sanitizer was also a challenge, as both nozzle and fingertip spray supplies were extremely limited. After exhausting conventional sources, Erin made frequent trips to the beauty supply stores in her area to find alternatives.
The Pilot team continues to hand-label, hand-bottle and, for the most part, hand-deliver everything they donate. Erin is proud to have seen the initiative take off. She believes the experience has strengthened team bonds, not only among the members and herself but also with the larger community.