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Wednesday, June 24th 2020, 12:07 PM EDT Updated: Wednesday, June 24th 2020, 12:18 PM EDT By Mary Willkom, Writer/Reporter
The SonSetLink Water Monitor was voted ‘Coolest Thing Made in Elkhart County’ (photo courtesy of Made in Elkhart County)
ELKHART COUNTY – The Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s “Coolest Thing Made in Elkhart County” campaign has named its winner. The SonSetLink Water Monitor, developed and built by SonSet Solutions, earned the top honors.
The water monitor is a universal satellite monitoring system that reports data on the health of water systems in underdeveloped countries. SonSet says the system can track information such as the number of gallons flowing from a single system as well as the levels of chlorination in the water.
Inspired by the Vibrant Communities initiative in Elkhart County, the campaign culminated with a public vote. The bureau says SonSetLink Water Monitor received nearly 25% of all votes.
More than 4,000 votes were cast between June 1 and June 15 for 30 different products from ice cream to RVs. The campaign was first announced in January.
The winner was announced via the Made in Elkhart County Facebook page on Wednesday.
SonSet says it has deployed more than 750 water monitoring units to more than 25 countries across the world so far.
Ameri-Kart, a Myers Industries Inc. company and a rotational molder and thermoformer, announced plans Friday (June 5) to expand its Elkhart County manufacturing operations, consolidating its Michigan and Indiana operations in Bristol, Ind., and creating up to 210 new jobs by the end of 2022.
“Thanks to manufacturers like Ameri-Kart growing and producing in our state, Indiana continues to build on its reputation as one of top manufacturing states in the nation, with nearly 30% of our state’s economic output coming from the manufacturing industry,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger. “We’re grateful Ameri-Kart chose to continue growing its Indiana operations, and are excited to support their continued success in our state.”
Ameri-Kart, which manufactures a broad range of custom plastic parts within the RV, marine, agricultural, construction, manufacturing and safety industries, will invest approximately $10.1 million to construct and equip a new, state-of-the-art production facility in Bristol on 32 acres at 1667 Commerce Drive near I-80/90 and I-94. The new 234,000-square-foot facility will accommodate the consolidation of Ameri-Kart’s existing operations in Bristol, as well as its operations in Cassopolis, Michigan. Construction is underway, and the company plans to begin relocation in staged phases this fall and be fully moved into the facility by early 2021. The move will support the company’s efforts to increase efficiency of operations and enhance customer service.
“We are excited to be making this investment in our community,” said Kristian Stankiewicz, president of Ameri-Kart. “The larger, modern facility will allow us to continue delivering highly innovative products and quality service to our customers and provide an improved work environment to our employees.”
The company, which currently employs 138 associates in Bristol and 85 in Michigan, plans to begin hiring for positions in professional and production roles in Bristol beginning late September. Interested applicants may apply online.
“The Town of Bristol is both excited and grateful that Ameri-Kart has selected our town to locate their new state-of-the-art production facility,” said Bristol Town Council President Jeff Beachy. “Ameri-Kart has been a great business partner for many years, with their current facility located just outside Bristol town limits, so when they approached us about building their new facility in our North Industrial Park we were more than excited and supportive of their project. We look forward to seeing the new facility as it springs to life from the once vacant property, into a thriving business. We wish Myers Industries, the Ameri-Kart leadership team and their employees much success as they invest in the growth of their business operations, their new facility and also for their investment they are making in the Town of Bristol.”
Founded in 1989, Ameri-Kart manufactures a wide range of molded plastic parts and assemblies that meet customer design specifications and production requirements for a variety of industries. The new facility will accommodate state-of-the-art rotomold and thermoform manufacturing technologies, an improved lean equipment layout and automated workflows. Coupled with ergonomic and biophilic design throughout the building, these improvements will drive increased efficiency, and further enhance employee productivity and job satisfaction.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following “Open Letter to the Business Community of Elkhart County,” signed by the mayors of Elkhart, Goshen and Nappanee, Ind., as well as the Elkhart County Commissioners and economic development and chamber of commerce officials, was distributed this week (June 1) to express the concerns of the community leaders regarding the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout those Northern Indiana communities where, coincidentally, North America’s RV industry is centered. The letter follows published reports regarding a hike in Elkhart County’s COVID-19 infection rates. We’re posting the letter verbatim here on RVBUSINESS.com.
We are reaching out to you to share our concerns about the spread of COVID-19, particularly as it relates to Elkhart County.
In March and April, our community did a great job working together to slow the spread of the virus and assure that we could medically test and treat those who were infected. We expected a peak in mid-May in northern Indiana, but numbers in the past week in particular are troubling. As of June 1, Elkhart County had a total of 1,322 positive cases from 9,849 tested and 28 people have died from the coronavirus.
The State of Indiana is decreasing the percentage of new positive cases in comparison to the number of tests given. The temporary shut down and actions of people as we open up seem to have been successful statewide. Our county tells a different story. In the past week, Elkhart County received national attention when it became the 10th most likely in the entire country to have the next COVID-19 outbreak, based on data collected by the New York Times. This has since changed and we are no longer on the high end of the list, but only because other counties are doing worse.
As of today, we expect to see our total number of cases double every 12.5 days. Our county is testing a significant number more people than we have in the past which means our total number of positive cases will rise. The problem is our percentage of positive tests to total tests given is rising dramatically. This shows that we have a spread issue. The first couple of months we saw a daily positive test percentage of 4% to 9%. Since the economy has reopened, we have seen that jump to 16%, and the last week the percentages of positive tests rose to 20% to 25%. By comparison, Indiana dropped from 18% to the current 7.5% daily positives.
If you look at Indiana’s data of positive cases by age, it is clear people ages 20 to 60 are the ones spreading the virus. This is us and this is our work force. As we have returned to work, the number of people who are getting sick is growing. Since we appeared on the national list, state and federal agencies have started looking closer at Elkhart County and we are at risk of them taking action to shut us down again. The CDC, OSHA, State Board of Health, or the Governor could order Elkhart County to again stay home entirely if we don’t act now to slow the spread again. The best solution for all of us is to do this voluntarily rather than be told to shut down. We cannot afford to shut down again if we can avoid it, but we can afford to take the time to reinforce our efforts and precautions. Companies with outbreaks have suffered work shut-downs, morale issues and community embarrassment. We need to not allow anyone outside Elkhart County to control our ability to manage this pandemic. We will work with each and every one of you to support your efforts. We just ask that you stand beside us as well. We are all in this together.
We want to remind everyone that social distancing, masks and handwashing are just as essential now as they have been over the past two months. If we become complacent and relax our personal or workplace protocols and behaviors, we could see the disease spread in even more deadly ways.
These are not fun times, but we can take steps to slow the spread of the virus and keep our community safer. We need to work together, possibly slow output, and both implement and enforce safe practices. We are now seeing record volumes of COVID-19 patients in our Urgent Care facilities and our hospitals have more patients than ever due to COVID-19.
We are a team here in Elkhart County. We all rely on the other. In the time of a pandemic, the actions of a few can have a large effect on all of us, our health and our economy.
Thank you to all of you who are already taking the appropriate steps and thank you to those who will step up again as you have in the past.
The Governor announced that majority of the state will begin to enter what he refers to as Stage 2 of a 5-phased reopening of the economy on Monday, May 4th. Marion and Lake Counties may move to Stage 2 on May 11th. Cass County may begin move to Stage 2 on May 18th.
At-risk Hoosiers, including those over age 65, should remain at home at this time. Stage 2 requires a gradual elimination of restrictions, depending upon a variety of circumstances.
Even upon reaching Stage 5 on July 4th, the Governor indicated that social distancing will still be required and remote work will still be encouraged. The Governor is still working on a plan for the next school year.
All remaining manufacturing businesses may open upon moving to Stage 2. Detailed guidelines and timeframes for the Governor’s plan may be found at the Back on Track Indiana website.
Purdue MEP – Providing direct support to help plan, prepare, protect, and recover manufacturing operations
Since March 2020, Purdue MEP has worked via our Critical PPE Manufacturing Initiative with real-time information, resources, and tools related to the efforts to manufacture urgently-needed medical PPE during this evolving global pandemic. Every day, we are helping companies remove barriers to PPE production to get critical supplies into the hands of front-line healthcare workers and their patients.
Over 100 companies are utilizing these services and we plan to assist more in the critical days and weeks to come. For examples of our work, visit our Success Story page.
Success Spotlight – Purdue MEP – A National Resource
Purdue MEP is not only helping with COVID-19 PPE efforts here in Indiana – we are also collaborating with MEP Centers across the nation to provide PPE to frontline healthcare workers.
Purdue MEP recently worked with the Virginia MEP Center to assist a hospital in their state. Purdue MEP connected the hospital with suppliers who were able to provide them with coveralls, face shields, and infrared thermometers.
A North Carolina medical organization recently needed a source for goggles. Purdue MEP was able to provide them with a local Indiana company that had the ability to supply them with the needed items.
Free Webinar Next Week from the Indiana Manufacturers Association
Success Spotlight – Continuing Direct Assistance to Indiana Hospitals
An Indiana hospital needed a supply of fingertip pulse oximeters to provide to discharged COVID-19 patients to monitor their health as they continue to recover. Purdue MEP was able to successfully connect the hospital to a company with an available supply of these useful diagnostic tools.
Resource List Available on Purdue MEP Site for Employers
Purdue MEP is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. Our greatest concern is for the health, safety, and well-being of our employees, our clients and their staff, and our communities. In this current state, we remain fully committed to our mission of serving Indiana manufacturers.
If your organization is in need of PPE to operate, please submit your company’s information on this form, and one of our staff members will be in touch to assist your company.
Managing Stress Webinar by Purdue MEP, May 11th 1pm to 1:30pm – FREE
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Coping with this stress will help your organization become stronger. In this workshop, you’ll learn about how stress affects the body and assess your own stress level. You’ll also learn tools for identifying sources of stress and learn proven techniques for managing stress.
To participate in this online offering, please complete this registration form. All participants will receive WebEx instructions the day of the event.
Purdue COVID-19 MEP Resources:
Online Problem Solving Course
In any workplace, problems arise every day that need to be solved. In a manufacturing environment, solving problems can be challenging due to the large number of interrelated systems that exist in the typical manufacturing plant. For example, is a high defect rate due to issues with incoming materials, operator techniques, machine settings, or all of these?
In this course, you’ll learn about how the Plan-Do-Check-Act method of problem solving, the A3 problem solving tool, and the root-cause analysis technique form a foundation for effective problem solving. You’ll also learn how to use additional problem solving tools, including Pareto charts and fishbone diagrams. Together, this new knowledge and skill will help you solve problems in a more streamlined and efficient manner, making you a valuable resource within your organization.
In manufacturing environments, a proactive approach to safety, with involvement from employees at all levels, can increase employee productivity and commitment, save money, and improve the organization’s reputation. In this course, you’ll learn how lean manufacturing concepts, such as eliminating the eight wastes, can be used to improve safety; you’ll also learn the fundamentals of building a culture of safety commitment as opposed to compliance.
Prior to the pandemic, Indiana was enjoying a 20-year economic success story that empowered the state to become a leader in the Midwest and a national competitor. To assist in re-establishing that status, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce has formalized a robust public policy agenda of potential actions to help ensure short-term relief and long-term economic growth for businesses.
Governor Eric Holcomb outlined the next steps this afternoon in getting the state back to business. The five-phase plan, called Back on Track Indiana, details a comprehensive process for reopening the economy, continued social distancing guidelines and more. Advancement to the next phase is based on continuing evaluation of four key health principles.
“What Governor Holcomb outlined today is a thoughtful, comprehensive approach that manages to achieve that delicate balance of recognizing that businesses have to start resuming operations while doing so in the safest way possible for employees, as well as customers,” says Kevin Brinegar, Indiana Chamber president and CEO.
“When business suffers, employees and their families feel it – and this period has been especially hard for almost everyone. We have to begin to return to some sense of normalcy, and the Governor’s gradual stages are the best way to achieve that.”
· Full details on the Back on Track Indiana web site
More than 25,000 visits have been made to the Indiana Chamber’s resources page, which earlier today converted to the Road to Recovery focus. It includes this two-page Chamber outline and enhanced policy agenda. We encourage you to check back often for additional information.
Monday, April 27th 2020, 9:21 AM EDTUpdated: Monday, April 27th 2020, 1:37 PM EDT
By Reed Parker, Writer/Reporter
GOSHEN – A COVID-19 Response Fund has been established by Goshen Health Foundation to meet the needs of local workers and families affected by the pandemic.
“We’ve had so many requests from people in the community who wanted to know how they could help, we felt it was critical to help match such heartfelt generosity with some of the areas of greatest need that otherwise might go unmet,” said Jim Caskey, Vice President, Goshen Health Foundation and Campaign Director.
All funding raised will be used to help medical professionals with supplies, building emergency care structures or for critical support of frontline workers, and also to aid families who have lost employment.
Donations will be accepted online, or by calling (574) 364-2701.
With much of the country locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic, RV/MH Hall of Fame President Darryl Searer is urging members of the RV and manufactured housing (MH) industries to consider using this time to nominate someone for induction into the RV/MH Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
“Most members of the two industries know someone who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and this downtime would be an excellent opportunity to nominate that person. When the industries get back to work, you may be too busy to think about it so I’m hoping those considering nominating someone that they should start working on their nomination,” Searer said. “Even though the deadline for nomination is still months away (Oct. 31), it’s really not too early to start the process of nominating a deserving individual, so I urge those who are considering a nominee to download the guidelines and forms, so their nominee can be considered for the Class of 2021.”
According to the guidelines, anyone can nominate a person to the Hall of Fame that meets the eligibility requirements. To be eligible, the nominee must be, or have been, an active participant in any segment of the RV, MH or campground industries for a minimum of 25 years. Canadians can also be nominated. The only people who may not be considered are those who currently serve on the Hall’s Selection Committee.
Also, the nomination form must be filled out in its entirety and must be accompanied by three supporting letters (no more, no less) that meet the Hall’s guidelines for these letters. Incomplete nominations cannot be considered. When evaluating a potential nominee, the selection committee will consider the nominee’s overall contributions to the good of the industry, to include both his or her positions, accomplishments, and innovations on the job as well as volunteer work both inside and outside the industry, with special emphasis on volunteer work done on behalf of state and national associations and owner groups, the Hall of Fame itself and other industry-related organizations and causes.
If a completed nomination form and three properly-prepared seconding letters are received by Oct. 31 of any year, the nominee will be in the pool of candidates considered for the following year’s class and for four years beyond that if not selected that year. If the nominee is not selected within five years, he or she remains eligible only if the nomination is resubmitted and refreshed with additional information.
The Hall’s Selection Committee will announce its selections in January 2022 and those chosen will be inducted at the Hall’s annual Induction dinner in August. The Hall’s bylaws allow for up to 10 inductees per year.
“The Hall welcomes nominations from all RV and manufactured housing sectors – manufacturers, dealers, campgrounds, housing communities, suppliers, user groups, trade media, associations, etc. – for the class of 2021 and beyond,” Searer said,.
The nominating committee is especially interested in receiving nominations for deserving early pioneers who may have been forgotten, passed over or overlooked in the past.
“The Selection Committee is made up of an equal number of members of the RV and manufactured housing industries, and members will only vote on nominees from their respective industries,” Searer said.
Once the nomination form and supporting letters have been completed, the nominations may be submitted by mail, in person at the Hall, or by fax at 574-293-3466.
Amber Ruszkowski, department chair and associate professor for the School of Business, Logistics & Supply Chain at Ivy Tech Community College South Bend-Elkhart, has been selected as the 2020 Associate Degree Award Recipient by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), according to a release. One individual in each region is chosen by the ACBSP for this award among all associate degree schools in the country.
Ruszkowski began her career with Ivy Tech in 2010 and has held a variety of roles including project manager/corporate trainer, academic advisor, and faculty member. She has achieved many accomplishments over the past few years, including earning a coveted position in Ivy Tech’s statewide teaching excellence training program and was named one of Michiana’s 40 Under 40 recipients by the South Bend Regional Chamber in 2019. Ruszkowski is described by her peers as caring, patient, supportive and inspiring.