Open for business: Area companies take the next step

Sam Baker is back to work after six weeks off at FJM in Miamisburg. The company makes marching band uniforms, and they’re resuming normal production today, after six weeks of making face masks. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Sam Baker is back to work after six weeks off at FJM in Miamisburg. The company makes marching band uniforms, and they’re resuming normal production today, after six weeks of making face masks. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

FJM Inc. in Miamisburg was making marching band uniforms again Monday — and it felt good, said Mary Lynn Dorow, vice president at the company.

“We’re just so grateful,” Dorow said. “You should have seen the smiles on the employees’ faces this morning when everybody came back in.”

About 98 employees were back at work at FJM Monday, the company’s highest number of employees since mid-March.

The Washington Church Road company re-positioned machines so they were at least six feet apart, Dorow said. Shift-starts and break times were staggered to reduce crowding.

The number of chairs in an employee break room were halved, to cut down on potential overcrowding, Dorow also said. Employees were given entry cards so they wouldn’t have to touch a time clock. And employees had temperatures checked before shifts started.

But like many other Dayton-area manufacturers, FJM never completely closed.

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“We brought in a small nuclear team to make masks,” Dorow said. “We’ve actually made over 40,000 masks. And we’re still making them.”

Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration gave Ohio manufacturers, construction, distributors and some offices the green light to reopen Monday — but a good number of them never truly closed, especially if they were able to meet new needs created by the pandemic.

Any number of local manufacturers shifted gears to craft face shields and face masks or bottle hand sanitizer as the pandemic tightened its grip.

“I’m not aware of any regional manufacturers that have closed that are reopening today,” said Steve Staub, owner of Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Harrison Twp. “Because manufacturing is so essential to the all-around success of the United States, most manufacturers have remained open (minus the automotive giants).”

“Part of the challenge for us is that most of our businesses — because they are medical or defense-related — were able to stay open, even with reduced shifts,” said Scott Koorndyk, who heads the Entrepreneurs Center in downtown Dayton.

Jim Bowman, owner and chief executive of Dayton aerospace manufacturer Noble Tool, said his company never completely closed, diving into 3-D printing in a bid to print N-95 respirator masks as part of a national group, the Montana Mask Manufacturing Alliance.

The alliance supplies customers in the defense industry, the city of Chicago and others. Bowman said Noble has printed about 50 “beta” masks so far.

“We’re not really looking to get rich on it,” Bowman said. “We just want to cover our costs.”

Bigger manufacturers remained a question mark Monday. There is no clear timeline yet for auto producers in North America to resume production.

Honda, one of Ohio’s and the Dayton-Springfield area’s largest employers, in late April extended its suspension of production until May 8.

Some of the conditions for reopening include daily health assessments for employees and good hygiene. General offices also started to open this week using the same rules as for manufacturing, distribution and construction.

Midmark Corporation in Dayton was deemed essential and did not close. Some Midmark employees who were working remotely will return to the office. Midmark is creating a “return to the workplace” plan for people still working from home.

Since the first stay-at-home order was issued, Midmark — medical, dental and veterinary products — has been practicing social distancing, disinfecting oft-touched surfaces and monitoring the temperatures of their employees at the Versailles campus and at other locations, according to a statement from the company. That policy is still in place.

Jesse Campbell, vice president of business development for ZCI Consulting and Residential, said they opened their office in Cedarville for the first time since March on Monday. All desks in the office have been rearranged to allow for six feet between each.

Campbell said the consulting business gave its employees the option to come back into the office or continue working from home. There are about three to five people working in the office at a time now.

“Coming back into the office has really boosted our team’s morale and we are now able to accomplish so much more since we’re together,” Campbell said.

Some offices that can reopen have chosen to keep their employees at home. CareSource will not reopen their general offices.

“Following the guidance of state leaders, we will continue to work from home through the month of May and monitor the situation as we finalize our plans for slowly bringing employees back into our buildings after June 1. Employee safety remains a top priority and we are committed to following health and safety best practices for the small group of employees who are currently in our facilities supporting critical functions and those returning to the buildings in the future,” said Dan McCabe, chief administrative officer at CareSource.

At Flagel Huber Flagel accounting firm, employees will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future, said managing partner Randy Kuvin.

Flagel Huber Flagel has opened its offices back up for client meetings. The handful of employees who are coming into the office are being asked to self-check their temperatures. The cleaning crews have been more frequently cleaning the offices.

MORE: Details on restaurants, hair salons reopening coming

DeWine plans to give details this week on other businesses reopening, like restaurants and salons.


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