Stanfield’s shuts down production until April
TRURO, N.S. – This town’s oldest operating factory – Stanfields Ltd. – has fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We closed the facility yesterday until April 6 in line with advice from public health authorities and the government and the direction of controlling the contagion,” company president and CEO Jon Stanfield said Tuesday.
Although no employees had indicated any signs of coronavirus, Stanfield said the decision was made to shut down the manufacturing aspect of the plant to adhere to early advice involving situations where more than 200 people are situated.
“We put all measures in place prior to the government deciding self-isolation,” he said. “We banned visitors, family members and retirees, suppliers to the plant, two weeks ago. We started to deny entry to ensure that our employees would be safe from any outside virus that may enter. “I think it’s important that the safety of employees is intact.”
Although the plant, which has been in operation since 1856, shifted gears with production during both world wars to meet government and military demans, and while it’s experienced some temporary layoffs and summer vacation shutdowns, Stanfield said to the best of his knowledge, it is the first time manufacturing was halted for medical reasons.
A skeleton staff remains in place, he said.
“We do have management in the building to deal with operations, planning and we do have a few people in the warehouse that are shipping customer orders, when they order, if they order, whether it’s from a retail channel or direct to customer. So, we’re not completely shuttered but 95, 97 per cent of the people are out of here.”
Stanfield said the shutdown will be assessed before April 6 to consider the status of the pandemic at that time.
“However, we need to get back to work and make our product for our customers that will ship in July, August and September. So, we can’t be down for too long,” he said.
“I think there is a large economic impact that remains largely unknown at this point in time. What is known is that revenue in March and April will be very much depressed versus prior years and versus plans. That is just a known fact; I think customers will just order less. But looking forward down the road, I’m not sure what the overall impact is. I think we can get back up and running pretty quick, we have all the raw materials in the building.”
Future orders are also in the books and inventory is on hand to complete them.
“I can’t really answer what the big impact is but it’s not inconsequential,” Stanfield said. “And, it’s not just our company, its going to be everybody.”
Truro Mayor Bill Mills said he was not immediately aware of any plans by other local factories to shut down, although many other businesses and events have been impacted by government and health advisories related to the pandemic.