As we continue the process of reopening in a purposeful and sensible way, The state of Indiana is making personal protection equipment (PPE) available through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). Today they have opened up the state’s PPE Marketplace. The items available include masks, sanitizer, and face shields. These items are currently free of charge to businesses registered to do business in the state of Indiana with the Indiana Secretary of State.
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.
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.
NDIANAPOLIS (May 1, 2020) – Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced a new marketplace for personal protective equipment (PPE) that will serve as an added resource for Indiana small businesses returning to work in the coming weeks. The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace, which is expected to launch next week, will ensure reliable access to PPE for small businesses and nonprofits lacking the resources needed to comply with safe workplace guidance during the reopening.
“As we look toward a safe and responsible reopening across the state, we’re working to remove barriers for entrepreneurs and small business owners that could limit or delay progress,” Gov. Holcomb said. “The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace is another tool that will help support small businesses during this unprecedented time, ensuring they are able to continue operating while providing needed safety measures to protect workers and customers alike.”
The Marketplace, developed by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) in partnership with the Indiana Small Business Development Center and the Indiana Office of Technology, will leverage PPE that is being manufactured and sourced by Indiana businesses across the state to help support supplies.
In order to be eligible to utilize the Marketplace, an organization must:
Be a business or nonprofit organization registered to do business in Indiana with the Indiana Secretary of State;
Employ less than 150 associates; and
Be identified in the reopening plan as an entity that must use PPE as a condition of operating in order to comply with safe workplace requirements.
All businesses and nonprofits are encouraged to first source and procure PPE on their own with the Marketplace serving as an alternate backstop for employers. While the state will make every effort to provide needed supplies, it cannot guarantee the integrity of the PPE supply chain due to increasing demands worldwide. All requests will be evaluated and fulfilled based on work environment risk profile, stock availability, and the number of outstanding requests. At times, partial or delayed fulfillment of requests may occur.
The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace is another step forward for the IEDC, which has been working to secure PPE for the state’s hospitals, first responders, long-term care facilities and healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients. To date, the state has secured commitments for more than 7.84 million pieces of PPE – up from 6.3 million reported last week – with more than 2 million items already delivered to the Indiana State Department of Health for distribution.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Indiana is home to approximately 104,335 small businesses that employ 941,578 Hoosiers across the state. To learn more about COVID-19 resources and no-cost counseling available to Indiana entrepreneurs and small businesses, visit isbdc.org/indianacovid19smallbusiness.
As the RV industry works to reopen amid myriad procedural changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, staying abreast of current conditions and providing support in any way possible is how the head of the Economic Development Corporation of Elkhart County (EDC) described his organization’s role.
“We have been speaking to – I guess the ‘Big Three’ is the best way to describe them – and we’ve tried to stay apprised of what their plans are,” said Chris Stager, EDC president and CEO. “We have discussed some of their PPE needs and we have discussed some spacing issues, but they obviously have access to some of the same information that we do.”
He said the focus is to have the safest work environment possible as the industry reopens next week He believes it will be a phased-in approach based on which elements of the supply chain are ready to support the industry.
And what an industry.
In 2018, according U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 90% all U.S. RV manufacturing happened in Elkhart County. According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, prior to the pandemic there were more than 70,000 manufacturing jobs in the county. Total jobs exceeded 137,000. Elkhart County represents 3% of the Indiana’s population, yet accounted for 13.5% of the state’s manufacturing jobs. Some 18,000 Elkhart County workers filed unemployment claims over the past two months. Depending on April numbers, the county’s unemployment rate could reach 15%. Before the pandemic, the rate was 2.7%.
“Obviously, we know that along with the RV sector, we’re (Elkhart County) tied to the automotive sector, and we don’t have real clear delineation from the automotive sector, exactly, of their timing for coming back,” Stager said.
While, clearly, all industry players are talking to their suppliers, Stager noted that because some of Elkhart County’s supply chain works in both automotive and RV sectors, the EDC is trying to assist by being a centralized clearinghouse of information on supply and compliance issues across all industries.
“Pretty much every manufacturer has told us on the way coming back that production will be based on their projections,” he said. “It’s no different than it was a year ago. They’re going to look at what the dealer inventories are and try to be smart about how they run their manufacturing.” Stager said the EDC is excited to see the plants reopening and sees the potential for an upswing going forward.
“The RV sector may benefit from some of the quarantine policies that are out there,” he said, as consumers eschew overseas travel, cruise ships and airlines. “How that all parlays itself into actual sales, we have to wait and see. Discretionary income, I guess, would be out there to do that. Certainly it makes sense from a lot of perspectives that people will want to control the environment they’re in. I think we’ll see much more domestic travel.”
Looking ahead in a support role for the RV industry, Stage said the EDC is focused on workforce development. His organization works with the Purdue Minority Engineering Program (MEP).
“Though Purdue hasn’t had a ton of interaction with the OEM sector, we are working at how you rework a production line so that social distancing is happening,” he said, “Or how you re-engineer the value stream on the manufacturing line to make it safer and more compliant.” He also mentioned that the EDC was “very pleased” to see the RV Industry Association establish its training facility in Elkhart.
On the technology front, he noted the COVID-19 crisis has likely changed the way technology will be integrated into the workforce and the EDC already was working toward improvements in local technology infrastructure.
“As a countywide initiative, we started a year ago to make sure that all of our manufacturing partners have good broadband,” he said. “We’re working on a local fiber connection and some of our supply chain partners – Lippert and a few others – have expressed interest in that and some of our OEMs have expressed interest in that.”
He said in the near future, “We will continue to see more automation creep into the production processes and better management of labor.”
Prior to the pandemic, Elkhart County enjoyed extremely low unemployment, but where that number winds up after the pandemic isn’t clear. In any case, EDC is prepared to confront any workforce problems.
“As an organization, we have a tool called Elkhart County Works, he said. “It’s aggregates Indeed, Monster, Career Builder and the state job lines. We’re updating that web page so that if we have pockets of businesses that are looking to hire, or workers who were displaced because of the pandemic, they’ll have a resource where they can go to single spot to look for work or workers.”
During this unprecedented time of COVID-19, many companies have been an aid in gathering materials and making masks for heath care professionals to use; Dometic is doing their part as well, the company announced today (April 23).
Two Dometic engineers have been using this time to create mask straps on 3D printers. The idea came from a student who sent a request for help creating these mask straps that help relieve pressure from behind the ears when wearing them all day.
Clayton Meyers, an engineer at Dometic’s Elkhart, Ind., Verdant office has been able to produce about 300 mask straps so far. A portion of the masks have gone to a local school system as they have been providing free lunches to students. The rest of the masks are intended for local hospitals and nursing homes.
Bill Rimel, an engineer located at one of Dometic’s manufacturing sites in Big Prairie, Ohio, has also been making mask straps, which have also gone to area hospitals and nursing homes.
”We want to do as much as we can to support our healthcare and essential workers during this unprecedented period,” says Scott Nelson, president of Dometic Americas. ”Our Engineers have been dedicating their time and talent for producing these mask straps. They have been able to utilize the resources that Dometic has available and provide relief from the current shortage of masks.”
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.
The COVID-19 Community Response Fund, created by United Way of Elkhart & LaGrange Counties and the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, has received a gift of 10,000 N95 respirator face masks, donated by Bill and Kristin Fenech, according to reporting in the Goshen News.
Bill Fenech is a former Thor Industries Inc. executive and co-founder of Grand Design RV. He currently serves as president and co-owner of Barletta Boat Company LLC, a pontoon boat manufacturer located in Bristol, Ind.
The protective face masks will be distributed to Elkhart General Hospital, Goshen Health and local nursing homes to protect health care workers from contracting and spreading the novel coronavirus, United Way officials state in a news release. Demand for the masks is outpacing supply nationwide.
Representatives from both Beacon Health System and Goshen Health indicated they welcome the gift of masks, which are essential items of personal protective equipment to help fight the spread of COVID-19. United Way and the Community Foundation began distributing masks Tuesday in accordance with the donors’ request.
The RV Technical Institute (RVTI) launched a new website today, a key component of which is the opportunity for prospective students to register for online classes as part of the program’s Learning Management System (LMS).
RVTI announced April 8 it would begin offering the Level 1 training course online later this month. The online, interactive classes will be virtually taught by RV Technical Institute trainers through Zoom. The rollout of this new curriculum delivery system will allow RV technicians to continue to be trained and receive the only industry-wide certification while following appropriate social distancing guidelines.
The first online Level 1 class starts on April 20 and will be delivered in four-hour increments on a daily basis from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. As RVTI moves to this virtual setting, hands-on training remains a cornerstone of the brand-new curriculum. The hands-on labs will be demonstrated during the online instruction class and students will then perform these labs on their own.
Textbook support materials will be distributed electronically through the Institute’s LMS.
Class participants will be given two weeks to complete their certification testing (included in the $275 course fee) via an on-line system using Proctor U. Those who pass the test will then become RV Technical Institute Level 1 certified.
Additionally, the online test will be available to experienced RV technicians who choose to test after reviewing the Level 1 curriculum without participating in additional training. This will allow experienced RV technicians to use their existing knowledge and skills to obtain the Level 1 certification.